WASHINGTON – Delegate Mark Kennedy Shriver has raised more than $1.6 million in his race for Maryland’s 8th congressional district, double what eight-term Rep. Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, has collected and more than all other Democrats combined.
Morella, who won re-election in 2000 with 52 percent of the vote, has raised roughly $721,400 to date, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Shriver is leading the money race against a pack of Democrats that included state Sen. Chris Van Hollen Jr., who has about $714,500; Ira Shapiro, who raked in $482,000; and Delegate Kumar Barve, who raised $146,990, before dropping out in January. The reports, due Monday, covered fund raising through March 31.
Shriver, D-Montgomery, aims to raise $3 million in his campaign for the hotly contested district, which was redrawn this year to split Morella’s Montgomery County base and help shift control of the House back to Democrats.
“People are realizing that we need a stronger voice, one that doesn’t occasionally vote the right way, but one that will fight for kids, will fight for families, will fight for senior citizens,” Shriver said. “The message that the children and families in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County need a stronger voice in Washington is resonating.”
Morella, on track to raise more than she has in any previous campaign, begins the race ahead of her competitors because of her strong record, her campaign manager said.
“I think that she starts with an advantage of having done a good job already,” Tony Caligiuri said. “Her name recognition is something like 93 or 95 percent in her district. That’s the kind of stuff that money can’t buy.
“But money’s not going to be everything in this race,” he said. “When it comes down to it, it’s more important what your product is than what your sales plan is.”
Shapiro agreed that “this race won’t turn on money.” He said his issue- oriented, grass-roots campaign has boosted his name recognition among voters beyond what the bottom line suggests.
Shapiro’s campaign is focused on “big issues,” with his monthly public forums including national experts on the Middle East crisis, the economy and the achievement gap in public education.
“The race will turn on who connects with voters on the broad range of concerns during these urgent times in our country,” he said.
The fact that nearly all Shapiro’s money has come from district residents shows that voters share his worldly concerns, he said.
Van Hollen also touted his local support, criticizing Shriver for collecting more than half of his contributions from out-of-state donors. He said his campaign would not attempt to “match Shriver dollar-for-dollar,” and claimed he has done more fund raising in the 8th District than any of his opponents.
Van Hollen plans to continue his focus on education, protecting the environment and gun control as he continues boosting his funding toward the Sept. 10 primary.
“If you look at who’s going to be voting on Election Day, we have more support in the community than any of the other candidates,” Van Hollen said.
Barve said he decided to get out of the race when it became clear that redistricting would put him in the same district with both Van Hollen and Shriver.
“I’m not running for Congress and the reason I’m not running is that they didn’t create the congressional district I wanted,” said Barve. He pledged to return campaign funds to donors who asked for it — minus a prorated portion for the costs of his aborted campaign.
The 8th District was the only one in Maryland where challengers’ fund- raising reports were on file with the FEC Tuesday. Other incumbents reported war chests ranging from $62,090 raised by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, to the $624,743 of Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville.
In other races, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, had $102,419; Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, had $265,353; Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, had $274,066; and Rep. Ben Cardin, D-Baltimore, had $389,715.
Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, who has announced that he will run for governor this fall, had $273,651 in his federal campaign account, according to the FEC.