Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fourth Quarter House Campaign Finance Reports

By Marc Korman.

Back in October I wrote about campaign finance reports for the US House of Representatives candidates. Unlike state campaign finance reports, federal reports are released quarterly. Reports from the 4th quarter of 2009, covering October 1st to December 31st, are now online and it is time for an update.

1st Congressional District

In October, I wrote that Congressman Frank Kratovil is “Maryland’s most endangered incumbent.” I meant it then and it is just as true today. Unless former-Governor Ehrlich takes the plunge, this will be the only Maryland campaign to receive significant national attention in 2010.

During the 4th quarter, Kratovil raised a respectable amount and has a healthy amount in the bank. But despite that nice chunk of change, Kratovil has a lot of problems. His announced opponent, State Senator Andy Harris, is so far unopposed which is a significant improvement for him given his long primary battle in 2008 where the incumbent Republican, vanquished in the primary, endorsed the Democrat. Harris may start 2010 with less cash on hand, but he also starts with a double digit lead in the polls. In 2008 Kratovil did not pull ahead in the polls until around October, but the playing field will be very different this year now that Kratovil is an incumbent and the Democratic winds are no longer at his back.

4th Congressional District

Congresswoman Donna Edwards caught a break when Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey decided not to challenge her. But she took his potential challenge, as well as the stirrings from Delegate Herman Taylor, seriously and raised significantly more in the last quarter. She still has a lot less than a typical House incumbent, but her numbers are a significant improvement over the last quarter when she raised about $39,000 and had $56,000 in the bank.

I could not find a federal report for Delegate Herman Taylor. It is hard to see how Taylor can pull off an upset barring a scandal, especially if he does not have federal funds ready to go.

6th Congressional District

Long time incumbent Roscoe Bartlett continues his streak of not showing too much interest in fundraising or campaigning. But he is still in fine shape financially given his Republican leaning district.

One of Barlett’s potential opponents, Casey Clark, is making a spirited showing. Since Clark began his campaign, he has raised approximately $95,000. That presents two problems. First, it is significantly less than the $150,000 Clark claimed to have raised earlier in January. Though it is possible he raised $50,000 more in January. Second, that is just nowhere near enough to be competitive against a long time incumbent who has so much more in the bank and will be assisted by national Republicans if he is seriously threatened.

2006 Democratic nominee Andrew Duck continues to have low fundraising. His only hope of getting through the primary is significant grassroots support built up over two previous runs.

8th Congressional District

Congressman Chris Van Hollen is safe in his district, but has a lot of insurance with his multi-million dollar campaign account. A significant sum of that impressive total will be directed to House races across the country as part of Van Hollen’s efforts as DCCC Chair. The outcome of the midterm elections could have a huge impact on Van Hollen’s future in the House. He originally did not want to return as DCCC Chair, was persuaded to by Speaker Pelosi, and now may be in charge of the political arm of the House Democrats in a brutal election year. It is early and November is a long way away, but if House Democrats suffer serious setbacks, Van Hollen will look less like a “Man of the House” and more like a future Senate candidate.

And All The Rest

All of the other Maryland incumbent House members should coast to reelection. They are all well positioned financially. Each has a minimum of $500,000 in the bank and raised in the six figures last quarter.