WASHINGTON – Last quarter, Donna Edwards raised more funds and kept more money in the bank than Al Wynn for the first time in their Democratic primary, an ideal position in the last days of her campaign to dislodge the eight-term incumbent.
Edwards raised $440,545 to Wynn’s $416,365 in the last quarter of 2007, according to reports the campaigns filed with the Federal Election Commission. Wynn’s total campaign take of almost $1 million dollars is about one-third more than Edwards, a Prince George’s County lawyer and activist, raised.
Wynn spokeswoman Lori Sherwood said his fundraising totals are actually higher because of some late donations. FEC reports show Wynn collecting $121,900 in the last couple weeks, while Edwards garnered another $14,600.
As of Jan. 23, Edwards’ cash on hand was $204,349 versus $146,367 for Wynn, putting her in a slightly better position for any last-minute media buys before the Feb. 12 primary.
Another factor in the race is spending by outside, independent organizations. Federal election reports from February indicate these groups have spent more than $700,000 to support Edwards. These reports must be filed within 48 hours of the expenditure.
The Wynn-Edwards’ primary is a rematch of 2006, however their fundraising this time around is much greater. Wynn won that race by just 3 percent of the vote, raising a total of $566,988, while Edwards collected just $260,038 then.
In this election cycle, Edwards’ fundraising has been driven by groups like Emily’s List and MoveOn.org.
“She’s become a cause celebre across the country,” said Thomas Schaller, associate professor of political science at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Edwards has raised 86 percent of her funds from outside the state, while just 14 percent of Wynn’s contributions came from non-Maryland residents and organizations. Another 4 percent of Edwards’ contributions has come from political action committees through Jan. 23, 2008. Her campaign reports an average contribution of under $100.
MoveOn.org has also raised more than $110,000 from its members to help Edwards, according to spokeswoman Ilyse Hogue.
In contrast, a majority of Wynn’s fundraising – 58 percent – has come from political action committees. Through the third quarter of 2007, individuals and PACs associated with energy and natural resources contributed the most to his campaign ($84,400), followed by miscellaneous businesses ($62,450); then finance, insurance, and real estate ($57,100), according to information compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
“She’s taken a lot of money from outside the state. He’s taken a lot of political action committee money,” said Schaller. “Neither is unusual. It speaks to the two styles in the race.”
Outside organizations are also having an impact in this race.
The Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education filed reports in the last six days that show they are spending $600,000 to support Edwards, on workers and Internet and television ads.
The League of Conservation Voters and “Women’s Voices. Women Vote” Action Fund are funding phone calls and mailings for Edwards. Emily’s List and another Service Employees International Union committee are paying for mailings.
Edwards has criticized Wynn for taking money from political action committees that represent energy and financial industries. After the release of fourth-quarter figures last week, Wynn criticized the Edwards campaign in a press release for receiving money from industry executives.
The Wynn campaign also filed a complaint on Jan. 29 with the Federal Election Commission, accusing the Edwards campaign of fundraising improprieties. Edwards characterized the filing as “desperate” and 11th hour.”
Paul Ryan, a lawyer for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said the complaint doesn’t come close to the “required level of specificity” to show election finance laws were broken.