Josh Kurtz: Follow the Money

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By: Josh Kurtz 

Beyond the gubernatorial race, the campaign finance reports released last week tell several other fascinating stories. You can already detect the storylines – and some of the potential major players – of upcoming elections.

A Real Mayoral Primary in 2016?

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had less money in her campaign account than both City Council President Jack Young and former Mayor Sheila Dixon – potential rivals when she runs for reelection in 2016 – even though she raised more money in the past year.

Rawlings-Blake raised $377,000 and had $221,000 on hand in early January. But she spent $211,000 – much of it on fundraising expenses.

Young raised $161,000 over the past year, spent $23,000 and finished the reporting period with $333,000 in the bank. Dixon didn’t collect any money, spent $5,600 on storage and cell phone service, and still retained $281,000 in her campaign account.

The Kids Are All Right

Some candidates for the legislature are raising staggering amounts of money – especially the younger ones.

Howard County Del. Guy Guzzone, looking to move up to the state Senate, pulled in $273,000 over the past year, and had $410,000 in the bank through Jan. 8. He had been thinking about a run for county executive and has been stockpiling cash for a while. Still, Guzzone’s haul since last January is impressive – and suggests that he’ll be financially equipped to be a player as soon as he arrives in the Senate.

Another young delegate looking to move up to the Senate, Johnny Olszewski Jr. of Baltimore County, raised $87,000 and banked $146,000.

Another impressive showing: Marc Korman, a lawyer and former Capitol Hill staffer running for the House in Montgomery County’s Bethesda-based District 16, raised $96,000 (a figure augmented by a $15,000 loan) and had $121,000 in the bank. Two other Democratic candidates in that district, Del. Ariana Kelly and Hrant Jamgochian, also reported more than $100,000 in their treasuries – though both had to help their campaigns significantly with personal loans. Kelly reported $113,000 in receipts, $100,000 from her own pocket, and $120,000 on hand, while Jamgochian seeded his own campaign with $120,000 – and pulled in an additional $63,000 – to finish the reporting period with $117,000 in the bank.

Then there’s Brooke Lierman, the young lawyer running for a House seat in Baltimore’s District 46. She’s the daughter of Terry Lierman, the well-connected former state Democratic chairman – and it shows.

Lierman raised $124,000 for her bid and had $104,000 on hand in early January. Her donors included: Irene Polin, widow of former Washington Wizards owner Abe Polin, and two of her sons, who each wrote checks for $4,000; Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s, who contributed $1,000; Ted Kennedy Jr., who contributed $250; pundit Morton Kondracke, who gave $500; top-shelf D.C. lobbyist Tommy Boggs, who donated $250; hotshot Democratic strategist Robby Mook, who just got Terry McAuliffe elected governor of Virginia, donated $100; and former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, an auto magnate, contributed $100. It’s enough to make you feel a little sorry for Bill Romani, who finished fourth in the District 46 race four years ago and may be the odd man out again this time.

Solidarity Forever

Two of my favorite candidates this year are Cory McCray, running for a House seat in District 45 in East Baltimore, and Mt. Rainier City Councilman Jimmy Tarlau, running for the House in District 47A in Prince George’s County.

Both are union men: McCray is an organizer with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 24 and Tarlau is an assistant to the vice president in the national office of the Communication Workers of America. And it shows: both have gotten substantial help from organized labor. Unions have contributed more than half of the $42,000 McCray raised in the past year, according to his campaign finance statement, and almost $31,000 of the $64,000 Tarlau pulled in. Tarlau’s donors include two former political directors of the national AFL-CIO, Steve Rosenthal and Karen Ackerman.


Rushern Baker IV, the son of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, raised $31,000 for his House bid. Of that total, $6,000 came from the elder Baker’s campaign account (the candidate’s mom chipped in another $100). The younger Baker ended the reporting period with $24,000 on hand. The three incumbents in the 22nd district, where Baker is running, Dels. Tawana Gaines, Anne Healey and Alonzo Washington, raised $14,000, $28,000 and $41,000 respectively. Their cash on hand totals: $16,000 for Gaines, $51,000 for Healey and $22,000 for Washington.

Washington took in $4,000 from the man he was appointed to replace in the House, former Del. Justin Ross, and another $4,000 from Ross’s wife. The Service Employees International Union Local 1199 contributed $6,000 to his campaign.


Speaking of the elder Baker, he reported $449,000 in his bank account, after raising $494,000. It doesn’t appear as if he has a tough reelection campaign, so he’ll be able to stockpile some of it for a future endeavor if he doesn’t give it away to other candidates. Similarly, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was sitting on $1,039,000 earlier this month after raising $479,000 over the past year – and he doesn’t have to sweat reelection, either.

Kamenetz’s predecessor, Jim Smith, who is now the state’s Transportation secretary, still had $531,000 in his account. His only expenditure in the past year was $19,500 for a poll.

Is it too early to start speculating about 2018?

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at .

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Josh Kurtz has been writing about Maryland politics since late 1995. Louie Goldstein, William Donald Schaefer and Pete Rawlings were alive, but the Intercounty Connector, as far as anyone could tell, was dead.

But some things never change: Mike Miller is still in charge of the Senate. Gerry Evans and Bruce Bereano are among the top-earning lobbyists in Annapolis. Steny Hoyer is still waiting for Nancy Pelosi to disappear. And Maryland Republicans are still struggling to be relevant.

The media landscape in Maryland has changed a lot, and Kurtz is happy to write weekly for Center Maryland. He's been writing a column for the website since it launched in January 2010.

In his "real" job, Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily down on Capitol Hill. But he'll always find Maryland politics more fascinating.

Kurtz grew up in New York City and attended public schools there. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He's married with two daughters and lives in Takoma Park, Md. He hopes you'll drop him a line, or maybe go out for a meal with him, because he's always hungry -- for political gossip.