Outsiders seek to influence Maryland election with campaign donations totaling millions

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ANNAPOLIS (March 8, 2022) – When Wes Moore, a Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland, raised more than $4 million and dominated a crowded primary field in fundraising last year, the campaign tapped into million in outside contributions to help build its foundation.

Along with out-of-state funding, Moore, a political newcomer, raised more money than any candidate from Maryland donors, propelling his campaign to be one of the best-funded in the race.

An analysis of campaign data by Capital News Service found that other Democratic primary candidates also dipped into the well of money from other states. Their campaigns have been fattened by donations from Democratic strongholds like New York, California and Chicago, campaign finance records show.

Maryland’s gubernatorial race, which is open because Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is time-limited, has garnered little national attention compared to contests in Virginia last year and a highly anticipated gubernatorial fight in Texas in November.

However, the run-up to the June primaries reveals how candidates across the country are bolstering their races by raising awareness of cash-rich fundraising zones in other states, according to data analysis, campaign veterans, political scientists and campaign donors.

Among major campaigns, some Maryland gubernatorial candidates raised more than half of their money from outside the state last year, the analysis found.

Reports show a sharp divide between nationally profiled figures and those primarily rooted in Maryland.

Moore, a U.S. Army veteran, author, and former nonprofit CEO, built a campaign war chest that included more than $2.3 million in outside contributions. Tom Perez, a former Democratic National Committee leader, raised nearly $1.7 million in donations outside of Maryland.

John B. King, former Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama, raised $2.2 million in campaign finance last year. Only 11%, or just under $240,000, came from donors in Maryland. King has raised over $534,000 in New York alone.

Moore raised over $1 million in New York and Perez earned over $226,000 from the state. Perez has also received nearly $235,000 from California donors and raised more than $100,000 in Florida and Virginia. Moore and King raised more than $100,000 each in Illinois.

Moore has raised more than $1.7 million in Maryland, the highest total of any contestant.

Moore, King and Perez contrast sharply with former Maryland state delegate and current Comptroller Peter Franchot, who raised more than 78% of his $1.66 million from inside Maryland.

Out-of-state fundraising helped candidates like Moore and Perez catch up with the financial advantage held by Franchot, who still led all candidates with $3.3 million in cash at the end of 2021.

Kerman Maddox, who donated $1,000 to the Perez campaign, is a longtime Democratic fundraiser who served on President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee.

Maddox, chair of Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass’ finance committee, said in an interview that Democratic candidates come from all over to raise funds in California, New York and Chicago because “it’s is where the money is”.

Maddox, who lives in Los Angeles, said donors in California and other Democratic-leaning states may be motivated by the possibility of taking a Republican Party gubernatorial seat. Many of these donors give through a network of personal connections, he said.

“I have friends all over the country,” he said. “They’re going to write me a check (for a candidate) because of our experience.”

While breaking into these lucrative networks is valuable, Maddox said digital fundraising via email, text and social media is an “equalizer” because it allows contestants to earn money without spending a ton of time. or money to do so.

Bert Deixler, a partner at Los Angeles-based law firm Kendall Brill & Kelly, is an example of a California donor who uses his money to help campaigns outside his state.

Deixler donated $6,000 to Moore’s campaign and is a longtime contributor to Democratic candidates.

“I consider him the most exciting political candidate since Obama, with the ability to connect with voters like Bill Clinton,” he said in an interview.

Deixler said he typically donates to candidates based on his personal connections, citing a longtime friendship with one of Moore’s sisters, and said he contributes to campaigns across the country because the Decisions made by politicians, even in other states, affected his life and the future of his family.

Where the money comes from may not affect the Maryland race, experts said.

Although campaigns sometimes try to ask where opponents are getting their money, voters generally don’t focus much on funding geography, according to Micah Rasmussen, who has run grassroots campaigns in New Jersey and is the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.

What matters most, Rasmussen said, is the infrastructure that campaigns have in the state to help train primary voters.

“Cash is no longer the ultimate solution,” Rasmussen said. “Applicants must have something worth selling.”

Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, echoed Rasmussen’s comments.

It doesn’t matter if the money comes “from a zip code across the street or from a zip code across the country,” Eberly said.

What strong fundraising can do, no matter where it comes from, is help candidates catch up to more seasoned politicians in the race, he said.

The challenge remains for candidates with little political experience to create an infrastructure to boost voter turnout and garner state support, he said.

Fundraising as a campaign issue

Campaigns have begun to highlight their funding sources. The camps that raised a larger percentage of money in the state say that indicates a high level of support from Maryland voters. Campaigns receiving lots of money from out of state say they are proud of the enthusiasm the candidates have generated across borders.

Franchot’s campaign boasted in a statement that he is “the only candidate whose majority of the money raised comes from the people of Maryland.”

“Our success speaks to the clear support of Marylanders for a candidate who has already demonstrated the ability to deliver results that create a better quality of life for all of our communities,” campaign spokesperson Jordan Bellamy said. in the press release.

Moore’s campaign said his strong showing in the state reflects popular support for the candidate inside and outside of Maryland.

“We set the tone for fundraising, including raising more money in Maryland and having 73% of donations of $100 or less, because this campaign inspired thousands of people from all walks of life in Maryland. and across the country who see the opportunity to make Wes Moore governor of Maryland and change the trajectories of families who have been left behind,” the campaign said in a statement.

Perez’s campaign boasts the support of national Democratic figures like Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who hails from Baltimore but represents a California district.

“The support we’ve received from across the country shows that all eyes are on Maryland, as the race has consistently been slated as one of the best chances for Democrats to flip a gubernatorial seat in 2022,” he said. said Perez’s publicist, Hannah Crook, in a statement.

Less than a third of the money Perez raised, 31%, came from donors in Maryland.

King’s campaign, which raised just under 11% of its money from Maryland, said it received donations from every county in the state and said the support it received from other states was telling. that voters were looking for a candidate with leadership on education issues.

“With more than 5,000 individual donors,” King’s campaign manager Joe O’Hern said, “it’s clear that Democrats, not just here in Maryland but across the country, are looking for a leader of the education capable of resisting far-right attacks on public schools”.

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