ANNAPOLIS – Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a likely Democratic contender in the 2002 governor’s race, raised more than half her campaign funds from out-of-state sources, with most of those contributions in the largest allowable amount, according to state campaign finance data.
Marylanders contributed 48 percent – or $859,000 – of Townsend’s $1.78 million in contributions collected between November 1999 and the most recent reporting date in November 2000.
She is glad to have out-of-state support, said Townsend campaign treasurer Jeffrey Liss. Townsend receives a fair amount of money from an annual fund- raiser held by her mother Ethel at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., Liss said.
Townsend is the oldest child of the late Robert Kennedy, niece of the late President John F. Kennedy and niece of longtime U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D- Mass.
Townsend’s ability to raise large amounts from outside Maryland has, so far, eclipsed the efforts of any other potential rival for the 2002 gubernatorial race.
Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry, and Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger have all been mentioned as potential Democratic contenders for that race.
The likely Republican candidates being mentioned are U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, R-Timonium and U.S. Rep. Constance A. Morella, R-Bethesda.
There are no confirmed gubernatorial candidates from either party. Gov. Parris N. Glendening is prohibited from running again.
Townsend’s available cash is more than $1.8 million; Ruppersberger has more than $1.5 million; Duncan more than $725,000; and Curry has $219,000.
Ehrlich’s state campaign fund has more than $97,000. Morella has not established a state campaign account. Both Ehrlich and Morella have federal campaign accounts, which could only transfer $4,000 to a state campaign account.
Townsend was the only one of that group who received substantial support from out-of-state, with the most significant amounts from Massachusetts, New York and California.
“I guess she’s a very popular candidate in Massachusetts,” quipped Ehrlich.
In fact, contributions from Massachusetts were nearly 13 percent of Townsend’s war chest, and nearly half of them were the maximum $4,000 contributions. New Yorkers gave more than 10 percent, and Californians gave a little more than 6 percent to Townsend’s treasury.
By comparison, Duncan collected 79 percent of his funds from Maryland and Curry got 91 percent of his funds from Maryland.
The problem with out-of-state contributors is not knowing who they are and what their business interests might be, said Janet Levine of Common Cause Maryland.
Maryland does not require contributors to disclose their employers or occupations, Levine said, which is required for candidates and elected officials in 20 other states and for federal campaign accounts.
Townsend also has a major advantage in collecting the largest allowable contributions of $4,000 for a four-year election cycle.
Between the November reporting deadlines in 1999 and 2000, there were 272 contributions or transfers of $4,000 or greater to Maryland campaign accounts.
Townsend captured 122 of those, totaling $488,000 – more than one-quarter of her total contributions for the same period, and more than one-third of those large contributions for all candidates.
Large, out-of-state contributions are a sign of Townsend’s popularity among national Democratic activists and women, said Ann Beegle, the Maryland Democratic Party Executive Director.
The ability to gather outside money is a sign of her political strength and her family’s support, said Montgomery County political analyst Blair Lee.
But it also should be a warning to other potential candidates, Lee said. “Ruppersberger and Duncan don’t understand. They’re not running against (Townsend), they’re running against the Kennedys,” he said, “. . . an organized, national political machine.” – 30 – CNS-4-24-01