COLLEGE PARK – A year away from the next election, Rep. John Sarbanes has $391,122 cash on hand — less than all but two members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, according to campaign filings.
But political scientists say the two-term congressman is in no danger of being unseated.
“I don’t think anybody should be particularly alarmed by that number,” said Thomas Schaller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. “If it were half that, maybe.”
Sarbanes is unlikely to have trouble raising money during the election year, and political action committees give more in even-numbered years, Schaller said.
Since January, Sarbanes has taken in $192,825, with 86 percent coming from individual donors and the rest from political action committees, according to the most recent reports with the Federal Election Commission. The 3rd District Democrat spent about $79,000 in operating expenses this year, the campaign finance report says.
The only Maryland representatives with less cash on hand than Sarbanes on June 30 were first-term Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, and nine-term Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, who had $86,870 and $316,547, respectively, the data says.
But Schaller said he would not expect any of the incumbents to have a problem raising money or getting re-elected. The only incumbent who may face a re-election battle is first-term Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, who had $503,818 on hand for his 1st District campaign.
“The only seat that’s really up for grabs is the 1st District,” Schaller said. “Unless (an incumbent) gets involved in a scandal or dies,” he said, Maryland will likely have the same congressional delegation in 2011 as now.
Eric Uslaner, a professor in the University of Maryland department of government and politics, said Sarbanes’ name and district work in his favor.
“I haven’t been following John Sarbanes per se, but it doesn’t seem to me as if he would have trouble getting re-elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic district with such strong name identification,” Uslaner said.
Sarbanes’ name recognition comes partly from his father, Paul, who represented Maryland for six years in the House of Representatives and 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The district the younger Sarbanes represents stretches from Reisterstown to Annapolis and includes part of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County.
The only potential challenger who has filed with the FEC is Republican Thomas Kevin Carney, who had collected $9,903 in contributions this year. About two-thirds of that money came directly from Carney, the FEC data says.
Even though he has a campaign Web site, Carney has not filed his candidacy with the Maryland State Board of Elections. Reached by phone, Carney said he had put his campaign “on hold.”
During the last election cycle, Sarbanes collected a little more than $1 million from Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2008, according to FEC data. At this time in that cycle, he had $388,736 on hand, almost exactly the same amount he has now.
He won re-election then with 70 percent of the vote, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.