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Alsobrooks way ahead of the fundraising field in Prince George’s executive race

Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D) announced her candidacy for county executive in July. (Arelis Hernandez)

Prince George's State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks has a large fundraising lead among Democrats vying to become the next county executive, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

Alsobrooks netted more than $770,000 in donations in 2017. Coupled with her campaign accounts from previous years, that gives her nearly $1 million in the bank — nearly seven times as much as her nearest competitor.

The first campaign finance filing of the 2018 election cycle gives an early, if incomplete, view of fundraising prowess and momentum heading into the June 26 primary. In Prince George's County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1, winning the primary is tantamount to victory in the general election.

Alsobrooks, the county's top prosecutor since 2011, is running against two veteran lawmakers, state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's) and former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards; and two political neophytes, former Obama administration official Paul Monteiro and Lewis S. Johnson.

The winner will succeed County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who is term-limited in his position and is running for governor.

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Alsobrooks reported 2,000 ­individual donations from a total of 1,600 people, most of them county residents. She said donors included her childhood neighbor, business owners, sorority sisters and politicians across the state. But her support also included influential law firms, well-known real estate developers and lobbyists in Maryland.

"We have people who could afford $5 and those who can max out at $6,000," said Alsobrooks, who came into the race with nearly a ­half-million dollars in the bank and spent about $300,000 in 2017.

Muse, who as a state lawmaker is prohibited from fundraising during the legislative session in Annapolis, reported raising more than $123,000 last year. Like Alsobrooks, he had money in the bank before the race began. He has $134,000 cash on hand.

Muse, who has built a career as a contrarian voice to the Democratic establishment in Annapolis even though he is in the party, is offering himself to voters as the untethered choice in the county executive's race.

He and Edwards, who is also portraying herself as an anti-
establishment figure, pointed to Alsobrooks's finance report as evidence she is the anointed candidate of "big-money business interests."

"If you are ready to clean house . . . our campaign is the only one that is able to win and willing to get started with the cleaning," Muse said, touting his reliance on small donors rather than business leaders or politicians.

Edwards, who was not known as a strong fundraiser while in Congress, reported raising nearly $160,000 since October, much of it in $5, $10 and $25 contributions. She spent nearly half of that, leaving about $60,000 on hand.Glenn F. Ivey, who preceded Alsobrooks as state's attorney and ran unsuccessfully for the congressional seat Edwards vacated in 2016, is the treasurer of Edwards's county executive campaign, according to the fundraising report.

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In an indirect jab at Alsobrooks, Edwards described her own campaign as "powered by people, not the well-financed interests that have exercised undue influence in the county in years past."

The former congresswoman has pledged not to take money from developers, but she reported a $1,000 donation from Calvin Cafritz, a scion of a prominent family of real estate developers. She also reported several large-dollar checks from wealthy donors outside of Maryland.

Edwards has known Cafritz, who is a philanthropist, for years and worked closely with him on philanthropic endeavors in Prince George's County, her spokeswoman Nina Smith said. She doesn't consider taking the donation a violation of her pledge.

Nearly 40 percent of Edwards's contributions came from outside the state. She also is backed by some of the most powerful and deep-pocketed labor unions in the region, five of which provided her with the maximum contribution.

Alsobrooks also enjoys some labor support — including one group that defected from Edwards. She called her opponents' efforts to link her to the county's moneyed elite a "big fat lie."

"It's a tactic. . . . They don't know what else to say," Alsobrooks said, adding that her campaign raised $100,000 in two hours during a campaign event with women from across the county. "I was a complete outsider in 2010, and people only support me now because I delivered on what I promised."

Monteiro, who is not well-known in county politics, raised more than $60,000 in 2017 but spent nearly three-fourths of that on staff, office, materials and signs, leaving his campaign with just under $15,000. He reported contributions from California, New York City, Washington and Chicago, where he worked for President Barack Obama's campaign operation.

Johnson, who is not expected to eclipse the field of well-known and financed candidates, reported that he did not intend to raise or spend more than $1,000.

The executive race is no longer the only countywide contest in Prince George's. A 2016 referendum introduced two at-large County Council seats, expanding the legislative body and opportunities for political hopefuls, including two term-limited council members.

Baker's longtime aide Calvin Hawkins raised nearly $200,000 in the first reporting cycle and has twice as much cash on hand as his primary rivals — outpacing incumbent council members Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) and Karen R. Toles (D-Suitland).

Franklin raised $95,000 and Toles $49,000 last year, and both had existing funds in their campaign accounts. Former state delegate Gerron Levi reported raising more than $25,000 but has outstanding loans. She has just under $15,000 in her campaign account.