Fundraising in Md. Senate Election Reaches Astonishing Heights

MARYLAND MATTERS: The 2024 campaign for U.S. Senate in Maryland is breaking all kinds of financial records, according to new campaign finance reports filed on Monday.

For the past few campaign finance reporting periods. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) has boasted of setting quarterly fundraising records for federal candidates in Maryland. She made the same assertion just last week, based on her most recent take of more than $2.1 million for the first three months of the year. That brought her overall fundraising since joining the Senate race in May to more than $7.1 million.

But Alsobrooks’ quarterly records for fundraising appear to have been surpassed by former Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who joined the Senate race on the Feb. 9 filing deadline. Hogan, who was recruited into the race by national GOP leaders, said he raised over $3.1 million between mid-February and March 31, spread out over three separate campaign entities.

“I am blown away by the strong response we have received since launching our campaign less than two months ago,” Hogan wrote in an email to supporters. “Together, we’ve shown the partisan politicians in Washington AND my high-spending opponents just how fed up we are with politics today.”

Then there’s U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), who continues to spend unheard-of sums of his own money on his bid for the Democratic nomination. Trone dropped another $18.5 million of his own cash into the race between Jan. 1 and March 31, bringing his overall investment in this election cycle to over $41.7 million.

Trone, Alsobrooks and Hogan are the leading candidates in the race to replace departing U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D). Mail-in voting in the primaries has begun this week. Early voting is in early May. Primary day is May 14.

Since launching his political career with an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2016, Trone has sought to make a virtue of his ability to self-fund his races, arguing that he’s not beholden to special interest groups and big-moneyed corporations that are fueling his opponents’ campaigns.

Trone has, however, been generous with dozens of his congressional colleagues, with Democratic officeholders in Maryland, and with various party committees. His latest campaign finance report shows contributions to at least three dozen Maryland Democrats or campaign committees over the past three months.

In all, Trone reported taking in $18,717,164.84 between Jan. 1 and March 31 — $18.5 million from his own pocket. That brought his overall take for the cycle to $42,417,875.25, with $41,771,000 in self-funding. Trone spent $18,173,104.92 over the past three months, and $44,698,540.44 overall.

Trone’s campaign finance report, filed with the Federal Election Commission, does show a few noteworthy contributions from people other than himself: William C. Murphy Jr., the Baltimore civil rights lawyer and former judge, donated $450 over the past three months. Wayne Rogers, a businessman and former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, who is currently leading the push to build a Maglev train in the Northeast corridor, donated $6,600. Gary Mangum, retired CEO of Bell Nursery USA and a key member of Hogan’s financial advisory team, gave Trone $4,200 (he also donated to Hogan).

Trone’s campaign has been on TV since last May and has also flooded Democrats’ mailboxes with targeted literature. His campaign has been a bonanza for an array of political consultants, as he’s paid some of the best in the business for a variety of services.

How did Trone spend his money between Jan. 1 and March 31? Here are some examples:

  • Gambit Strategies, a digital advertising firm, was paid $3,349,893.06
  • LiftOff Campaigns, a communications and digital firm, was paid $173,282.77
  • Siegel Strategies, a New York-based firm, was paid $230,000 for advertising production costs
  • Canal Partners Media was paid $6,762,192.87 for TV advertising buys
  • Hickman Analytics, a polling and strategy firm, was paid $527,441
  • Schall Strategies, a general consulting firm connected to former Maryland Democratic strategist Justin Schall, was paid $65,346.04
  • Liquid Soul Media, a firm that makes and places ads largely geared toward Black audiences, was paid $287,696.10
  • Adrian Harpool Associates, the political consulting firm of the Baltimore-based strategist Adrian Harpool, was paid $114,250
  • AMS Communications, a direct mail firm, was paid $685,600
  • Adeo Advocacy, the Baltimore-based fundraising and strategy firm, was paid $30,508.78

Alsobrooks, meanwhile, reported taking in $2,122,493.69 between Jan. 1 and March 31, and spent $2,053,115.92 during the same period. Overall, the campaign has raised $7,162,819.33 and spent $3,965,393.84.

Alsobrooks’ take this quarter included a $830,000 transfer from the Alsobrooks Victory Fund, a separate fundraising entity that operates under different rules than the standard campaign committee, and appears to have just begun raising money early this year. The victory fund reported collecting $926,815.

Some noteworthy donors to Alsobrooks’ campaign committee this quarter included $1,000 from a Love Supreme Political Action Committee, which is affiliated with U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the youngest member of Congress, who endorsed Alsobrooks earlier this month; $4,000 from U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.); $5,000 from M-PAC, which is controlled by U.S. Senate Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.); $2,000 from U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.); and $4,300 from J Street PAC, the liberal pro-Israel group that pushes for a two-state solution.

Alsobrooks’ biggest payments went to Break Something, a digital, online and text messaging firm, which was paid $163,672.08; Magnus Pearson Media, a political advertising firm that was paid $72,770.19; $36,000 to Hart Research, the campaign’s polling firm; and $32,999.72 to Rice Consulting, the Maryland-based fundraising firm.

As of March 31, Alsobrooks had $3,197,425.49 in her main campaign account, while there was another $64,495.89 in her victory fund. Trone finished the reporting period with $998,909.96 on hand, but that figure is largely irrelevant, given his apparent unlimited capacity to dig into his own pockets for his campaign fund.

Late last week, the Alsobrooks campaign released a poll suggesting that she is closing the gap with Trone, whose own polls released several weeks ago showed him with a considerable lead.

The poll of 600 likely Democratic primary voters, taken April 8-10 by Hart Research, showed Trone with 43% and Alsobrooks at 40%, within the poll’s 4-point margin of error. Media polls taken last month showed Trone with 7- and 9-point leads, respectively.

GOP senators race to donate to Hogan

Hogan, who shook up the Senate race with his late entry, used three different campaign entities to build his war chest.

His campaign committee reported raising $1,905,363.73 and spending $391,173.09, finishing March with $1,514,190.64 in the bank. Hogan’s PAC, Better Path Forward, raised $225,953.86. And another entity, the Hogan Victory Fund, collected $2,149,262.

When you factor in the $220,795.41 the PAC transferred to the campaign fund and the $906,396.44 that the victory fund transferred to the campaign committee, Hogan raised $3,153,387.74 overall since joining the Senate race in February.

The PAC had $316,170.10 in the bank at the end of March. The victory fund reported $576,161.80 in its war chest.

Hogan’s campaign committee pulled in $217,500 from political action committees, and what quickly emerges from an analysis of those PAC donations is that Republican senators are eager to have the former governor join them on Capitol Hill.

Hogan’s campaign finance report showed $10,000 donations from PACs controlled by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), and Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

The Hogan campaign reported $5,000 contributions from the PACs of Sens. Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.). Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley’s PAC gave $2,500, while North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer’s PAC donated $1,700.

The PAC controlled by John Bolton, former President Trump’s onetime national security adviser, who has since questioned Trump’s fitness for office, contributed $10,000 to Hogan’s campaign.

Hogan’s early campaign expenditures suggest the former governor is getting the old band back together. His campaign finance report showed $83,099.97 in payments for staffing expenses to Purple Surfboard LLC, a political consulting firm run by Hogan’s longtime campaign treasurer Thomas Kelso, plus a $5,790.38 reimbursement to the firm. He also paid $51,000 for ads and digital services to his longtime media firm, Strategic Partners and Media, where his former communications director Doug Mayer now works.

Hogan paid $10,000 for consulting services to Chris Cavey, who served as his appointments secretary when he was governor, and $5,000 for consulting to Chris Shank, a former state senator who held a variety of roles in the Hogan administration. The Hogan campaign also paid his real estate company $6,000 in rent. 


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