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Brown gains fundraising edge over Gansler in Maryland’s campaign for governor

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown speaks before supporters of raisng the minimum wage during a rally outside of Maryland State House on Tuesday . (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony G. Brown and his running mate on Wednesday reported collecting donations of about $5.4 million over the past year, enough to wipe out a huge fundraising advantage enjoyed by rival Douglas F. Gansler.

With the muscular showing, Brown, the state’s lieutenant governor, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) together had nearly $7.1 million available for the race as of Jan. 8, according to reports filed with the State Board of Elections.

That exceeded the $6.3 million that Gansler, the state’s attorney general, and his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D), had in the bank, according to reports filed Wednesday. Together, Brown and Ulman raised more than three times as much during the past year as the rival ticket.

Meanwhile, a third candidate for governor, Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), and her running mate, raised more than $1.1 million during the past year and had roughly $750,000 on hand, according to a spokesman.

The nearly $5.4 million raised by Brown and Ulman appeared to be a record for any ticket in Maryland heading into an election year, eclipsing the amounts raised by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2009 and by former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in 2005.

“I’m grateful for this tremendous outpouring of support from people who share our vision of a better Maryland for more Marylanders,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday night.

The competitive Democratic primary is scheduled for June.

A year ago, when the hopefuls last reported fundraising totals, Gansler had $5.2 million in the bank while Brown showed only $1.6 million.

Brown formally announced his candidacy in May and added Ulman as his lieutenant governor candidate in June. That move alone bolstered Brown’s financial standing. Ulman, who had been considering a bid for governor himself, already had $2.1 million in the bank.

The pair has maintained an aggressive pace of fundraisers ever since, according to aides, and they have benefited from a string of endorsements from prominent Democrats with an ability to help raise money.

During the past year, Brown reported raising about $4.1 million while Ulman, his lieutenant governor candidate, raised nearly $1.3 million into a separate account. Ultimately, money from both candidates can be used to benefit the ticket’s election.

Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock said that his ticket was proud of the support it had received and would have plenty of money to compete in the primary. He also took a shot at Brown, saying Gansler has spent more time doing his current job.

“Unfortunately, Lt. Gov. Brown paid more attention to shaking down special interests than he did to doing his job of implementing health care reform in Maryland,” Wheelock said, referring to the botched rollout of the state’s online health insurance exchange.

Brown campaign manager Justin Schall declined to respond.

Aides said Brown and Ulman received donations during the past year from 6,121 contributors, with donations coming from every Maryland county. The ticket’s fundraising total included 3,884 contributions under $250, aides said.

Mizeur’s fundraising picture is a little more complicated because she has agreed to participate in the state’s public financing system.

Her total raised for the year included the $284,000 she has so received so far in public matching funds. Meanwhile, some of the money she has in the bank likely won’t be able to be used on the race because of restrictions placed on candidates who participate in public financing.

The totals reported Wednesday by Republican candidates were anemic by comparison.

Harford County Executive David R. Craig, who has been touted as a leading GOP candidate for governor, has less than $183,000 available for his campaign after a year in which he and his running mate spent more than they raised.

Meanwhile, two other Republican hopefuls, Del. Ronald A. George and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar, finished the year with little money. George (R-Anne Arundel) reported cash on hand of only about $15,000, while Lollar reported less than $6,000 in the bank.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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