Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates, doing everything in their power to reach undecided voters during a stormy primary season, have combined to spend more than $5.3 million on new television, radio and online in the weeks leading up to early voting, according to new campaign finance reports.
The Democratic and Republican nominating contests to replace incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan are on the wire. A week of early voting began on Thursday and more than 90,000 voters had handed in mail-in ballots by Friday.
The latest financial disclosures — which were due Friday at midnight and are the last required before the July 19 primary — show just how much the nine Democrats and four Republicans have been raising and spending to reach voters in recent weeks.
Democrat Wes Moore, best-selling author and former nonprofit leader, has once again proven to be the most prolific fundraiser and spender in a race packed with experienced state and country politicians. .
A first-time candidate who built an energetic, approval-fueled campaign, Moore had by far the most individual contributors in the first six months of the year and most were Marylanders who contributed fewer. of $100, the Baltimore Sun reported last week.
His fundraising prowess continued into June, with him and his running mate, the former Del. Aruna Miller, raking in just under $600,000, spending $1.9 million and having just over $800,000, according to reports. They cover the period from June 8 to July 3.
Part of that was a high-profile nudge from Oprah Winfrey, a longtime friend of Moore’s who hosted a virtual fundraiser with him in mid-June and narrated a 30-second ad released Thursday.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez also hosted a fundraiser in mid-June with his own high-profile endorser — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a native of Baltimore.
Perez, along with his running mate, former Baltimore City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, raised the second-biggest in the period behind Moore, about $450,000. They were also left with the second highest amount, at around $645,000, after spending nearly $979,000 during the reporting period.
Only Democratic State Comptroller Peter Franchot and former Clinton White House official Jon Baron spent more, dumping nearly $1.3 million each on ads and other campaign spending in the weeks leading up to the vote. anticipated.
For Franchot, who had about $629,000 left on July 3, it represented a last-ditch effort to maintain the slight lead over Moore and Perez he held in recent polls. For Baron, who had about $337,000 to spend, it represented the culmination of a campaign in which he was polled in single digits while spending $1.7 million of his own money on the race.
“These reports don’t change the race for money,” said Roger Hartley, dean of the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore. “Each of them has enough money to get by for the past few days.”
On the Republican side, former state cabinet member Kelly Schulz retains a significant financial advantage over Del. Dan Cox.
Both candidates said they have roughly the same amount of money they had a month earlier — $734,000 for Schulz and his running mate, Jeff Woolford, and $189,000 for Cox and his running mate, Gordana Schifanelli.
Schulz raised about twice as much as Cox in the last period — $208,500 to $102,000 — but the total raised by Cox wasn’t all it seemed.
As he has throughout his campaign, Cox listed campaign expenses, such as meals and mileage, as loan donations he made to this campaign. In the latest filing, a new “loan” of $8,000 on July 3 is described as “payments for campaign work done by Patience Faith and Josiah Daniel,” who are two of her 10 children.
His campaign reported a total of $42,733 in loans and unpaid bills owed to Cox or his direct family dating back to last year.
While some candidates had been spending on TV ads since early May, ad buying appeared to pick up in June as the state board of elections began sending out mail-in ballots and several polls showed races tight on both sides.
Between eight of the leading Democratic candidates and the two leading Republicans, total spending between June 8 and July 3 reached $7.3 million, according to reports.
Of the $5.3 million listed specifically as “media,” about half came from just two candidates — Moore and Baron. For both, this included a mix of television and online advertising.
Franchot and Perez each paid approximately $715,000 in media expenses during the period.
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But reports show Franchot took a different strategy from the rest of the field, spending heavily on flyers in voters’ mailboxes. He spent $285,000 on such direct mail advertisements. Moore was the only other Democrat to spend anything on direct mail, around $20,000.
Former US Secretary of Education John King and former State Attorney General Doug Gansler, both Democrats, also made their mark filling the airwaves – spending $613,000 and $520,000 respectively on media .
Hartley said it was significant that favorites and those who had struggled continued to have the resources to run ads. All of the candidates, he said, “are taking the opportunity to expand their reach in different parts of the state or solidify their base.”
Campaign staff salaries, payments to consultants and pollsters, and campaign merchandise accounted for most of the rest of the field expenses.
Perez spent nearly $66,000 on expenses described as “giveaway items” like “buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts.” Moore paid a Washington, DC firm $47,000 for a survey in late June.
Schulz, the Hogan-backed Republican, has meanwhile spent $73,000 on TV and online ads, another $21,000 on direct mail and about $122,000 on consultants and staff.
Cox, backed by former President Donald Trump, and his running mate said they paid $49,000 for media, $30,000 for direct mail and nothing for staff other than expenses he and his family incurred that have were mainly described as loans.