COLLEGE PARK – Rep. Steny Hoyer has outspent his 5th District opponent by a nearly 12-1 margin and still has 95 times more cash on hand for November, according to the latest Federal Election Committee reports.
But Republican challenger Brad Jewitt insists he is “undaunted” by Hoyer’s financial lead. He argues that the 12-term congressman and recently elected House minority whip — the No. 2 Democratic position in the House — has lost touch with his district and “doesn’t have an absolute right to that seat.”
“Things are going well,” Jewitt said in a call from his headquarters. “We’ll never raise as much money. But all we’ll need is one more vote.”
Pollster Patrick Gonzales said that vote may be difficult to get, however.
“It’s real hard to beat an incumbent,” said Gonzales, of Gonzales Marketing and Research Strategies. He said he sees nothing unusual about the match-up between Hoyer and Jewitt.
But Jewitt says Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s 2002 win signifies “the winds of change blowing” statewide.
He said he has reached out to voters through phone banks, at Metro stations and at their front doors since winning the GOP primary in March, adding that he has yet to experience any “really nasty or tough situations.”
But that has not translated into fund raising success. The latest filings showed Hoyer had spent $858,266 to Jewitt’s $74,502 as of June 30 and the incumbent had $718,567 on hand to his challenger’s $7,546.
Of the money Hoyer spent from April through June, less than half was on his own campaign. About 60 percent of the $155,165 spent by the Mechanicsville Democrat during that period went to campaigns in states such as Kentucky, Georgia, Maine and Pennsylvania, according to his FEC report.
Jewitt has accused Hoyer of neglecting his constituents’ interests in his pursuit of leadership, saying Hoyer has put much of his personal campaign spending this cycle into districts other than his own. He also insists that “this is not just a tired argument that has failed previous campaigns.”
Jewitt’s own political history includes a stint on the Berwyn Heights Town Council and a brief term as mayor. Elected in May 2002, the Marine reservist served until January 2003, when his unit was called up to stateside active duty. That call-up lasted until August 2003.
But Hoyer campaign officials note that previous campaigns have failed — repeatedly.
“The voters of the 5th District are the best judges of Steny Hoyer’s record,” said Sharon Weslow, spokeswoman for Hoyer for Congress.
Political columnist Blair Lee said he thinks Hoyer is a sure win precisely because he does pay attention to his constituents, despite Jewitt’s claim.
“Southern Maryland voters are good politicians,” Lee said. “They understand who brings home the bacon.”
Hoyer’s reign is not lost on Jewitt either as he traverses counties in the mostly Southern Maryland district meeting voters, including those who know Hoyer.
“I’m not telling you not to be his friend,” Jewitt said he has told them, but that “you don’t need to vote for him anymore.”
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