ANNAPOLIS – Gov.-elect Bob Ehrlich significantly surpassed his opponent in campaign contributions in the most expensive gubernatorial race in Maryland history, according to the candidates’ campaign finance reports.
According to a report filed by the Ehrlich campaign to the Maryland State Board of Elections Tuesday, the Republican and his running mate, Michael Steele, raised $2.78 million in the last days before the election, Oct. 21 to Nov. 19.
The amount is more than double that of Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s total during that time period, which was approximately $829,000.
Ehrlich’s campaign raised $10.4 million during the race, while Townsend pulled in $8.5 million. Their combined total eclipses the 1998 gubernatorial campaign between Gov. Parris Glendening and Republican Ellen Sauerbrey, when their combined campaign fund-raising totaled about $6 million, the second highest in Maryland history.
“I think two conclusions can be drawn from this,” said Henry Fawell, Ehrlich campaign spokesman. “One, that the Republican base is as strong as ever, and two, that independents and conservative Democrats trust Bob.”
“We’re very proud this campaign raised the second most in Maryland history,” said Peter Hamm, Townsend campaign spokesman. “Unfortunately, the guy who raised the most in the state’s history was her opponent. Ehrlich got the job done in terms of raising money.”
Both candidates pulled in big name endorsements to attract contributions.
In early October, President Bush attended a rally for Ehrlich that raised $1.8 million, providing the campaign with one of its largest boosts.
Former President Clinton rallied for Townsend twice in less than a month before the election, pulling in over $750,000 for the lieutenant governor.
To the Ehrlich campaign, however, it was the little known endorsements that counted the most, said Fawell.
“Bob will be the first to tell you that the contributions that meant the most were in the number of small checks from people of all backgrounds,” said Fawell, who noted that most of those checks were less than $20.
However, Ehrlich’s key to winning was not money, Hamm said, but rather in getting out the vote.
“The loss was mostly unrelated to money,” Hamm said. “That’s not to take anything away from the Ehrlich campaign’s fund-raising. They did a good job.”
Hamm blamed the expensiveness of this year’s gubernatorial race on the cost of media advertising.
“It’s TV – TV advertising plain and simple,” Hamm said. “If they did not keep charging more and more for these ads, the campaigns all over the country would not be so expensive.”
While TV may have been a possible contributor to the high numbers, Fawell cited another factor. “This, from the get go,” Falwell said, “was a national race.” – 30 – CNS-11-26-02