The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Former Hogan administration official brings in hefty fundraising haul in governor’s bid

Kelly M. Schulz’s $1.52 million lags behind several Democratic candidates vying for the seat. Wes Moore appears to lead Democrats with nearly $5 million.

The Maryland State House in Annapolis. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

Kelly M. Schulz has raised $1.52 million in her bid to fill the seat being vacated by her former boss, Gov. Larry Hogan (R). While it’s a significant haul for a first-time Republican candidate in a blue state, her fundraising still lags behind several Democratic candidates vying for the seat.

Schulz’s campaign said the former labor secretary has $1.05 million cash on hand — more than Hogan had in his first campaign finance report in 2014 — as she enters a competitive primary against Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick), a Trump-endorsed candidate, and Robin Ficker, a former state delegate and perennial candidate.

“I think that Kelly Schulz’s fundraising total means she’s a really viable candidate,” said Melissa Deckman, the chair of the political science department at Washington College, adding that if Schulz raised less than a million, it would have spelled trouble for her bid.

Wednesday was the deadline for filing campaign finance reports. Cox’s campaign reported raising just over $344,000 and loaning his campaign about $15,000. He has about $271,000 on hand, according to campaign finance documents. Ficker, an anti-tax activist, loaned his campaign nearly $1.1 million, leaving his coffers with just over $910,000 on hand.

Democrats are vying to regain the governor’s mansion after losing the seat to Hogan twice. Two of the past three governors in Maryland, a blue state, have been Republicans.

Schulz’s coffers pale in comparison with those of top-tier Democratic candidates, including author and former nonprofit chief executive Wes Moore, whose campaign reported $4.8 million; State Comptroller Peter Franchot, who raised $1.1 million and has $3.3 million on hand; former U.S. labor secretary Thomas Perez, who reported raising $2.7 million; former U.S. education secretary John B. King Jr., who took in $2.5 million; and Jon Baron, a former nonprofit executive who refused to take money from lobbyists or corporations and raised about $420,000 but had $1.7 million on hand due to a $1.7 million loan he gave to his campaign.

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In a crowded field, a bigger bank allows candidates to introduce themselves to voters and to get their message out to them.

Like Schulz, Moore, King and Baron are first-time candidates.

Former Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler (D), who ran for governor in 2014, took in just over a half-million dollars and has just under $400,000 on hand, according to his first filing.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who was a top gubernatorial candidate in the 2018 Democratic primary, plans to use the state’s public financing system. He took in about $128,000 and listed having just over $63,000 on hand. Campaign officials said Baker raised the required in-state donations needed to qualify for seed money from public financing.

Former Montgomery County Council candidate Ashwani Jain reported raising a little more than $100,000 and has about half of that on hand, according to campaign finance documents.

Jerome Segal, the former head of the Bread and Roses party, filed an initial affidavit with the election board that he does not intend to raise or spend more than $1,000.

Laura Neuman, a former Republican Anne Arundel County executive who switched to the Democratic Party in 2020, launched a gubernatorial campaign less than two weeks ago.

In other big statewide races, U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) and Katie Curran O’Malley, a retired judge and wife of former governor Martin O’Malley, are in a tight race financially in the Democratic primary to become the state’s next attorney general. Brown raised nearly $600,000 and received about $47,000 from state and federal accounts. He reported having about $617,00 on hand. Meanwhile, Katie Curran O’Malley raised a little over $625,000 and has about $616,000 on hand.

In the one-of-a-kind matchup, Brown, who served as lieutenant governor during the O’Malley administration, faces the wife of his former ally. The race is expected to be a tough competition, with both candidates garnering some heavy endorsements shortly after launching their campaigns.

Based on campaign coffers, Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) and Bowie Mayor Tim Adams (D) are locked in a tight money race for state comptroller, the state’s chief tax collector.

Lierman’s fundraising prowess has resulted in $1.7 million in the bank, while Adams has $1.85 million on hand in a self-funded campaign, leaving both candidates in a down-ballot race with more funding than some gubernatorial candidates.

Adams, an entrepreneur and first-time statewide candidate, loaned his campaign $2 million, according to campaign officials.

Census data shows Maryland is now the East Coast’s most diverse state, while D.C. is Whiter

Lierman, who is endorsed by Emily’s List, is vying to become the first woman to serve as state comptroller. Adams, if elected, would be the first Black person to hold the position.

The same gender and race dynamics are also present in the contest to be Maryland’s next governor and attorney general. All of those top statewide elected offices in Maryland have only been held by White men.