Thursday, January 18, 2018

Pocketbook Abattoir

Quick thoughts on the fundraising numbers. 

Normally, the release of the campaign finance data results in a couple of candidates pondering how to exit the room most gracefully.  This time around, it is challenging to see who is in clear mortal peril.  Let’s start at the top and focus on surprises:

Governor’s Race: Baker and Kamenetz both clear $1.0M raised in the reporting period (2017), but the latter leads the former in the critically important Cash on Hand category by a sizable margin ($2.0M to $696K.  Note – all figures are from my hand-scrawled notes. Second note – loans are important to acknowledge as distinguishing between financial backing expressed through contributions vs. self-financing is one, albeit just one, indicator of “public” support.  However, money spends like money so I am not breaking out loan data here.

So Shea has $1.3M Cash on Hand. Big deal.  Show me his constituency.  He – like Ross – will probably have to rely on a “well, if we finish in second place everywhere, we have a shot at this” strategy.  Between the two, I think Ross is better situated to execute such a maneuver, and even then, he is unlikely to pull it off.  Unless Shea starts distinguishing himself on Issues (yes, I will get to Madaleno soon), I don’t know where his campaign goes.  Just another well-funded vanity exercise?  Possibly. An audition for the LG slot?  Perhaps.

Jealous pulled in $1.25M in 2017, more than Baker and Kamenetz, it should be noted.  But he started from $0 and he had a relatively high burn rate, so he is showing just shy of $400K.  His union and progressive support and ability to garner paid media attention still make him a serious force.  He needs to consolidate the left though (fine, Rich, give me one second).

Sen. Madaleno strikes me as similar to a thoughtful, left-of-center Michigan politico named Lynn Jondahl.   Jondahl was a respected figure in Michigan politics for decades, a long-time member of the state House of Representatives (a Delegate in Maryland verbiage).  He ran for Governor in 1994 and he finished 4th in the Democratic primary with around 10% of the vote.  Madaleno has only $193K CoH, but I anticipate he will continue to make some noise in Annapolis through policy proposals (like the $15 minimum wage bill he is introducing with Delegate Hettleman).  Probably just visible enough to appeal to good-government, media and policy-attentive progressives.  Can he build a constituency large enough to capture a plurality in Montgomery County? Maybe.  Could he finish in the top 3 in neighboring Howard County? Conceivably.  This author – who has not yet selected a favorite – believes that Madaleno would be a very good Governor, but I am not seeing an easy path to the Democratic nomination for the Senator.

Krish Vignarajah, whose website can be found here:, had a better than expected showing.  I fell asleep before her numbers were posted. I woke up expecting her to have a CoH figure around Madaleno’s and definitely south of Jealous.  $405 CoH, with a very frugal burn rate (only $25K in expenditures compared to $431K raised) is not bad at all.  With these numbers, her campaign clears the threshold of “serious.” In a low turnout primary, a woman who is a policy wonk with sufficient money in the bank can be well-positioned to make a move…particularly going into the televised debate season and especially if folks like Baker and Kamenetz start going after each other.  Can Vignarajah pull off a Feingold ’92?  I don’t see why she couldn’t.  

I will focus on other state and local races shortly.  Back to work.

In solidarity.  

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