Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Money Chase: Maryland

Today, we examine the campaign funds of some of Maryland’s leading state and local politicians as well as those of a few potential challengers. All data pertains to the year ending 1/14/09.

Strongest Position

1. Attorney General Doug Gansler (Balance $1,255,115.52, Net Gain $609,184.48)
No statewide, state-level politician has had a better two years than Doug Gansler. He has no association with the special session’s tax package, the following spending cuts or the impending slots debacle. His job gives him priceless opportunities to go after crooks and polluters. He bet correctly on the Presidential race and has consequently made friends all over the state. And he raked in more cash than any state-level politician in Maryland last year. Gansler is the early favorite for Governor in 2014.

2. Governor Martin O’Malley (Balance $1,004,836.66, Net Gain $95,083.49)
O’Malley did not raise a lot of money last year for a sitting Governor but he may not need it. The state is more Democratic than it was in 2006 and a primary challenge is looking increasingly unlikely.

3. Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith (Balance $956,583.09, Net Gain $460,657.24)
Term-limited Jim Smith is raising tons of cash, a sign that he may very well challenge Comptroller Peter Franchot.

4. Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (Balance $303,609.91, Net Gain $172,350.89)
The 34-year old Ulman is raising more money than any Executive in the state other than Jim Smith. He will face an interesting decision when his term limit takes effect in 2014.

5. Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey (Balance $113,678.87, Net Gain $28,979.77)
Highly-regarded prosecutor has a leg up on his rivals to be the next Prince George’s County Executive. If Ivey can succeed in that office, he can go a long ways in state politics.

Needs to Do More

1. Senator C. Anthony Muse, D-26 (Balance -$4,063.83, Net Gain -$26,544.37)
Muse ran for Prince George’s County Executive unsuccessfully in 2002 and some believe he may run again. The problem is that his finances are an absolute mess – especially given his status as Prince George’s Senate Delegation Chair. If he cannot gain control of his campaign account, that may encourage another primary challenge even if he stays in the Senate.

2. Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Executive Candidate (Balance $39,459.73, Net Gain -$188,938.53)
Baker raised $210,153.05 last year but spent $399,091.58. Of that amount, he directed $317,895 to loan repayments, including $310,000 to Renter’s Finance Corporation of Silver Spring. A 2006 Washington Post article identified that entity as a subsidiary of Southern Management, a large apartment building owner in Prince George’s County that has feuded with County Executive Jack Johnson. Baker still owes himself $196,000. None of this will help him run against Glenn Ivey or Anthony Muse.

3. Comptroller Peter Franchot (Balance $283,597.94, Net Gain $190,462.79)
Franchot’s fund-raising numbers are well below those of potential rival Jim Smith. He may need to take out another $750,000 mortgage on his home to survive.

4. County Executive John Leopold (Balance $544,763.38, Net Gain $26,125)
Leopold has a decent war chest. But in the wake of his recent mini-scandal, he may face challenges from both the left and the right.

5. Former Governor Robert Ehrlich (Balance $151,529, Net Gain $29,080.90)
Low fund-raising totals suggest that he is not running for Governor again.

The Wild Card

Senate President Mike Miller (Balance $644,233.77, Net Gain $264,350.45)
Big Daddy is capable of raising a whole lot more money than this and he certainly will. Miller does not need the money for himself. Instead, he will send it to tight Senate races across the state. Where will he invest? Where will he direct his donors? And how hard will Big Daddy try to get rid of his mortal enemy, Peter Franchot? Miller’s decisions will affect a lot of races in 2010.