The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Maryland’s Hogan has more cash than all Democrats in the governor’s race combined

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) had more campaign cash in the bank heading into 2018 than the seven Democrats vying to challenge him combined, according to records filed Wednesday.

The numbers — Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) raised $5.4 million in the past year and have accumulated a $9 million war chest — illustrate the daunting task Democrats face as they try to wrest back the governor's mansion from an extremely popular incumbent.

Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2 to 1 in Maryland, and Democratic officials nationwide are counting on a wave of opposition to President Trump to power their candidates in November. But Hogan has made clear his differences with Trump. And the many Democrats vying to challenge him in November will have to spend a lot and attack one another's positions in the months before the June 26 primary.

Why today is the Day of Reckoning for gubernatorial candidates in Md.

With $2 million in the bank, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz had the most campaign cash of any Democratic gubernatorial hopeful. He raised about $1 million in the past year, building on years of earlier fundraising.

Kamenetz relied on donations from businesses and organizations more than any other candidate, drawing nearly half his haul from those sources. He also had the most local money, with about 91 percent of his campaign cash coming from Maryland, and the fewest small donors.

The biggest fundraisers in the past year were two first-time candidates: Ben Jealous, a former head of the NAACP, and James Shea, a lawyer and longtime Democratic fundraiser, both of whom raised about $1.5 million from others (Shea reported a total of $2 million in fundraising, including $500,000 he contributed to himself).

The pace of fundraising is expected to pick up as the primary approaches. Early hauls help potential donors identify which candidates can marshal the resources to go on air with television ads and assemble field operations.

Here are some more details from the filings:

●While Shea isn't widely known to the public, his connections in the legal community and among established Democratic donors helped him. Half of what he raised from others came from people who gave the maximum $6,000, and about $587,000 came from employees of Venable law firm, where Shea served as chairman.

He had $1.34 million available as of last week, making him the only Democrat besides Kamenetz with seven figures in the bank.

●Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who has led the Democratic field in early polls, raised $1 million in his first year and has nearly $700,000 on hand. About a quarter of his fundraising came from businesses, and about half of his donors gave small contributions.

Hogan's campaign seems to be keeping a close eye on Baker.

"Baker faces a hotly contested primary, and whomever emerges will have had to drain their bank account, and will likely begin the general election [campaign] battered, bruised and broke," campaign chairman Tom Kelso wrote in an internal campaign email widely obtained by news outlets. "Meanwhile, our financial position allows us to begin making key early investments in staff and infrastructure that will pay off down the stretch."

●Jealous, a favorite of national progressive groups, and his running mate, Susan Turnbull, raised $1.5 million and have $643,000 cash on hand. They have spent $860,000, more than any other Democratic candidate, mostly on staff and consulting expenses.

Nearly 7,000 small donors gave less than $250, a sign of Jealous's deep ties to the national progressive base from his stint as a surrogate for the Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

About 1,100 of the small donors were locals, which translates to more small donors from Maryland than any other candidate. Still, nearly 83 percent of his campaign cash came from out of state. The donor list includes liberal financier George Soros and members of his family, comedian Dave Chappelle and his wife, and former Reddit chief executive Ellen Pao.

●Alec Ross, a little-known technology entrepreneur and former Obama administration official who has lagged in early polls, reported raising $1 million, with $445,000 on hand. About a third of his haul came from California; one-fifth came from Maryland.

Fellow techies donating to his campaign include Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox, Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. Half of Ross's fundraising came from 85 donors who gave the maximum $6,000. But he could tap those same donors again when he chooses a running mate.

●State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery) raised $440,000 in 2017, including a $120,000 loan to himself. He had about $193,000 available, according to his filing, but even more in debt, including the loan.

Madaleno relied the most on small donors, who gave nearly a third of his fundraising take. They are instrumental in his plans to seek public financing. If he qualifies, his donations would be matched by public money, but total spending would be limited to $2.8 million.

●Krishanti Vignarajah, a former aide to Michelle Obama and the only woman in the contest, raised $431,000 since entering the race in September, including a $100,000 personal loan to herself, and has spent little. About 80 percent of her money came from out of state, including Indian Americans and several celebrities, including actress Ashley Judd and actress Meryl Streep.

●Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a policy consultant and the wife of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), struggled to raise many before dropping out of the race this month after her husband was hospitalized. She'd taken in $153,000 since October.

●Hogan had a strong grass-roots showing, with nearly 6,600 small donors, just behind Jealous. But unlike Jealous, most of Hogan's small donors were local. Overall, about 86 percent of Hogan's campaign cash came from Maryland in the past year.

Although direct contributions to candidates and their running mates are limited to $12,000, organizations are free to spend beyond that on independent campaign expenditures. The general election is likely to attract significant spending from the Republican Governors Association, the Democratic Governors Association and other outside groups.

Earlier versions of this article incorrectly said a donation from actress Meryl Streep was given by her husband, Don Gummer. The article has been corrected.