Republican nominee George W. Bush continues to raise money for his presidential campaign at a blistering pace in Maryland, according to the latest figures from the Federal Elections Commission.
The Texas governor raised $64,203 in Maryland in June, well ahead of the $16,675 raised in the state that month by Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat.
As of June 30, Bush had collected a total of $1.68 million from individual donors in the heavily Democratic state, compared to $1.41 million for Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Maryland contributions accounted for 1.8 percent of Bush’s $91.3 million national total from individual contributors, and nearly 3 percent of Gore’s total of $47.7 million.
Bush’s success in Maryland is noteworthy because voter registration in the state is 50.9 percent Democrat to 30.9 percent Republican.
But Mason-Dixon polls taken in the state from July 12-15 show the race to be a statistical dead heat, Gore holding a 43 percent to 40 percent lead over Bush in a four-man race including Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan and Green Party nominee Ralph Nader. Ten percent of voters were undecided in that July poll, which had a 4-point margin of error.
Gore’s lead in the polls has faded since March, when he led Bush by 8 percentage points, 46 to 38. Coincidentally, that was the only month of the campaign in which Gore edged Bush in fund raising.
Much of Bush’s success can be attributed to his ability to tap contributors who have not always been available to Republican candidates. Ellen Sauerbrey helped establish new fund-raising bases for Maryland Republicans in her recent, but unsuccessful, gubernatorial bids. In 1998, she was just barely edged out in fund-raising by Gov. Parris Glendening, who raised $4.72 million to Sauerbrey’s $4.69 million.
Sauerbrey, who is Bush’s Maryland campaign chairwoman, acknowledged that it has been a difficult state for Republicans to raise money. In 1996, President Clinton raised more than twice as much in Maryland as the Republican nominee, Bob Dole, and he went on to defeat Dole by 16 percentage points in the state. Clinton held a 27 percent fund-raising edge over former President Bush in Maryland in 1992, and won the state by a 14 percent margin.
But Sauerbrey said the fund-raising edge this time around is just one positive sign for the younger Bush’s campaign.
“George Bush is a far more popular candidate [than Dole] and has been, I think, blessed by the party unifying around him early and perceiving that he has a chance to win,” she said.
Bush’s fund-raising edge is in part due to the campaign’s decision early on to forgo federal matching funds through the primaries, allowing it to aggressively raise and spend an unlimited amount from private contributions up to the convention. Gore, who accepted the federal matching funds, was subject to the federal spending limitations of $33.5 million that came with the money.
Both Bush and Gore will accept $67.5 million in public funds for the general election, to be distributed after each claims their party’s nomination.