BALTIMORE SUN: Franchot, Olszewski, Alsobrooks top fundraisers among Maryland politicians

Pamela Wood

JAN 20, 2021

Maryland’s only announced candidate for governor, Democrat Peter Franchot, heads into the 2022 campaign season with more than $2.2 million in the bank.

Franchot, currently the state’s comptroller, has significantly more money on hand than other rumored and prospective candidates, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports.

In an email to supporters, Franchot wrote that the money means “we’ll have the resources we need to share our message” through on-the-ground staff across the state and TV, radio and online advertising.

Franchot reached the total on the strength of more than $790,000 in contributions received over the past year, which he said was notable given that many traditional types of fundraising were off the table due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of Franchot’s money came from online donations.

Franchot’s fundraising pace was eclipsed by two potential Democratic gubernatorial rivals: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (raised $827,000) and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (raised $805,000).

Olszewski, who was elected county executive in 2018, has about $1.6 million in the bank.

Olszewski made no mention of whether he’ll run for reelection as county executive or for governor in a news release.

“Amid this difficult year, I am honored by the overwhelming support we’ve received from so many across Baltimore County and Maryland who believe in our work to build a better Baltimore County,” Olszewski said in a statement. “I remain focused on defeating the deadly COVID-19 pandemic even as we continue working in partnership to continue working towards a better future for us all.”

Alsobrooks, who also was elected to her post in 2018, reported having a little more than $1 million cash on hand. Rachael Rice, who is Alsobrooks’ fundraising consultant, said the money gives Alsobrooks options when deciding her political future.

“It certainly gives her the resources to do what she wants to do,” Rice said. “The possibilities are limitless.

Running a gubernatorial campaign in Maryland can cost well into the millions of dollars. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s team, for example, spent $12 million in his successful reelection bid in 2018. (Hogan is barred by term limits from running in 2022.)

Only potential candidates who currently have state campaign accounts were required to file reports by the 11:59 p.m. deadline Wednesday.

Doug Gansler, a former state attorney general who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014, reported raising nearly $225,000 with more than $428,000 in the bank — an indication he may be looking to reenter politics.

Gansler said he’s been sought out by people encouraging him to run again. He said he isn’t actively fundraising, noting that most Marylanders are more focused on getting through the pandemic than on an election that’s still far off.

“For the few people who are looking toward next year, they know me and they see me as an experienced progressive who can win,” Gansler said.

The Democratic nominee from 2014, U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, raised nearly $26,000 in his state campaign account. He spent most of it paying back loans to himself and had less than $2,000 in the bank, according to his report.

The Democratic nominee from 2018, Ben Jealous, reported raising no money over the past 12 months.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball raised more than $383,000, with more than $691,000 in the bank.

On the Republican side, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman will be prevented from running again in 2022 due to term limits. He said he’s weighing a run for governor or comptroller. Or he said he might challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, who has faced backlash for voting against certifying some states’ Electoral College votes after a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters violently overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I’ve been swamped with calls from the Eastern Shore,” Glassman said. Harris represents the 1st Congressional District, which includes the entire Eastern Shore, much of Harford County and parts of the northern suburbs of Baltimore.

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For now, Glassman said he’s focused on guiding Harford County through the pandemic and getting vaccinations out to residents. He’ll consider his next step in the spring, and noted that after 30 years in politics, he could opt for “a regular job.”

Glassman reported raising nearly $149,000, with more than $441,000 in the bank.

Other reported potential Republican candidates include state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who doesn’t have an active state campaign account, and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who did not raise any money in the past year.