WASHINGTON – As the Democratic primary race for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat begins a new year, its leading candidates differ not only on who has more money, but also where it is going.
While U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin, D-Baltimore, has raised nearly $2.9 million, about 37 percent of his expenditures — or $214,094 of $782,382 — have been outside Maryland, according to year-end totals from campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Meanwhile, former congressman and ex-NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume, who has raised nearly $421,000 since entering the race, is spending his money within the state. His $6,574 — just 2 percent of approximately $295,275 spent — is the lowest percentage spent outside Maryland of any Democratic candidate.
“Obviously it takes money to raise money and we’ve been very successful,” Cardin spokesman Oren Shur said. “It will also take money – lots of money – to take on the Bush-Steele machine this fall.”
Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is running for the Republican Senate nomination.
Mfume’s campaign did not return calls for comment.
Seven Democrats hope to win the nomination Sept. 12 in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., including history professor Alan Lichtman, businessman Josh Rales, forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren, former Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen and activist A. Robert Kaufman.
Spending out of state is understandable, said Tom Schaller, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Direct mail fundraising firms and various political consultants are not necessarily located in Maryland.
“There are a variety of candidates who hire Washington, D.C., pollsters,” Schaller said. “That’s just the nature of the business.”
Expenditures include everything from office supplies and shipping costs to fundraising, consultants and gifts to donors.
Most of the Democratic candidates have financed campaign research. Cardin has paid about $132,143 for fundraising or consulting, as listed on the form, including a single payment of more than $45,000 on polling services.
Mfume has spent about $30,000 to raise money or on consultants, including about $630 to the firm of Joe Trippi, the former campaign manager of ex-Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.
Rales, who raised $342,858, has paid more than $92,000 to Robin Rorapaugh of Rorapaugh-Teicher, a Florida-based political consulting firm. Rorapaugh, who lost in 2004 to Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fla., has served as chief of staff to Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Fla., and as a consultant on several campaigns. About 22 percent of Rales’ nearly $260,000 spent has left Maryland.
Mfume last month hired two former staffers also from the Dean campaign, Lindsay Lewis and Walter Ludwig, according to published reports. Only Trippi’s firm is named on the campaign finance reports.
Candidates tend to spend more money later on in the campaign, said James Gimpel, a political science professor at University of Maryland, College Park.
Mfume, although he does well in independent polling, has not been a match for Cardin in fundraising. Mfume’s campaign held $125,186 in cash on hand at the end of the year, while Cardin’s war chest held $2.2 million.
“He hasn’t spent that much because he hasn’t raised that much,” Gimpel said.
Cardin also has given more back to groups sponsored by African-Americans, who account for 30 percent of the state’s population. Cardin gave $750 to the Prince George’s County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and spent $570 on the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Awards Dinner. Tickets cost $40.
Mfume donated $100 to the Carroll County NAACP and $125 to the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. He also gave $500 to the Maryland Democratic Party and $500 to the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.
No Democratic candidate has yet spent significant money on media, including television, radio, or newspaper advertising, but such spending is not expected until summer as the election approaches, Gimpel said.
Steele, who outraised Cardin in the last quarter to bring his cash-on-hand total to $786,605, has raised $1.2 million. He has spent $485,264, including $20,000 to the Republican National Committee Nov. 28 for travel purposes, according to the official filing. A campaign representative said the money was to support Steele’s $125-plate event with President Bush.
Lichtman raised $338,441, including $250,000 of his own money, spent the least, $11,769, and has $322,806 on hand; Van Susteren raised $367,888, spent $212,794, and has $155,093. Independent candidate Kevin Zeese, who has raised about $30,000, said he has spent $7,000 and “virtually nothing” outside of Maryland.