One of the key ways incumbents get reelected is by raising so much campaign cash that they can scare away most challengers, and beat any challenger bold enough to try.
On that note, during the past two years, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh raised more money than any statewide official — except for that other chief executive from Anne Arundel County who lives down the block from Schuh’s Annapolis office, Gov. Larry Hogan.
Schuh’s campaign brought in $1.4 million, but he spent a good chunk of it on fundraising and other campaign expenses. He also used 10% of it to pay off loans he made to his campaign in the past.
Schuh now has almost $700,000 in cash on hand, and not a challenger in sight. Which is the way he wants to keep it.
Hogan is fully expecting a well-funded Democratic challenger, and has raised $5.6 million in the past two years, with $4.6 million of that left on hand.
By contrast, two Democratic county executives who are term limited and considering running against Hogan are raising money, but nowhere near as much as the sitting governor.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has raised almost $1.2 million in the past two years. With money left from his 2014 reelection, he has $1.3 million on hand. And Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has raised $497,000 in the past two years, but has just $250,000, a fairly paltry sum with the Democratic primary 16 months away.
All of this money talk doesn’t amount to much if the right under-funded candidate has the right message. Hogan proved that in 2014, when he and the GOP spent $5 million to defeat Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who had $6.6 million.
Hogan has already raised more than he spent to win the job, and has another year of fundraising left. Statewide office holders, including the governor, comptroller and attorney general, as well as all the members of the legislature, are not allowed to raise or accept campaign dollars during the General Assembly session; county executives are not bound by that law.
Comptroller Peter Franchot has upset many of his fellow Democrats by his alliance with Hogan on the Board of Public Works. However, he has $1.3 million in his campaign chest, with no challenger in sight.
Astle for Annapolis
Democratic Sen. John Astle, who has represented Annapolis for 34 years, with 22 of them in the Senate, is taking a hard look at running for mayor of Annapolis. The race would potentially set up the 74-year-old ex-Marine helicopter pilot and ardent game hunter against the 33-year-old Republican Mayor Mike Pantelides.
Astle has had fairly close races in the last two elections against relatively unknown Republicans. Former Republican Del. Ron George, who ran for governor in 2014, has already announced he is running for the Senate in 2018. In 2010, George got more votes in the three-way delegate race than Astle did running for reelection to the Senate.
Del. Herb McMillan, who ran for Senate against Astle in 2006 and lost, wonders why the senator would want to take on the thankless job of mayor. Compared to the relatively easy job Astle has now as vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, McMillan pointed out to Astle that a mayor gets all the complaints about the streets, the police, the trash.
Astle said he wants to give back to the town that’s been good to him and has continued to raise campaign money since the 2014 election, indicating no plans to retire, and he has $125,000 cash on hand, compared to $150,000 for Pantelides.
Restaurateur Gavin Buckley, who owns several restaurants on West Street, is also looking into entering the race.