Wednesday, 19 February 2014 14:03

Weir, Grammer have most funds in House race

by Ben Boehl

    With the 2014 primary election just over four months away, the year’s first round of campaign finance reports have been released.
    While the candidates with the most money do not necessarily win elections, history shows that having plenty of cash can be a major advantage. Moreover, a bulging war chest can often be a sign of a campaign’s overall strength.
    In races for the local General Assembly seats, incumbents appear to have larger sums in their campaign accounts.
    Del. John Olszewski Jr., who will be leaving the House of Delegates to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by retiring state Sen. Norman Stone, had a cash total of $145,000 as of the Jan. 15 reporting date.
    According to the Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System (MCRIS), Olszewski received $70,736.21 in contributions in 2013, made up of approximately 270 individual contributions, of which all but 15 were less than $1,000.
    Del. Michael Weir Jr. received $14,670 in contributions during 2013, which gave him a total of $21,938.60 as of Jan. 15.
    Stone, who is in the process of winding down his campaign committee, still had $21,938.60 on hand at the beginning of 2014. State law gives him the right to transfer that money to other candidates, but his 2013 spending was mostly on contributions to local nonprofits.
    Stone recently made two separate $500 contributions to the campaign by former Dundalk-area delegate Connie DeJuliis, who is running for state Senate in a district in northern Baltimore County.
    Del. Joseph “Sonny” Minnick also announced last year that he will not run in 2014. His MCRIS report showed him with a balance of  $13,817, with no reported expenditures in 2013.
    Among the many hopefuls running for the two vacant local seats in the House of Delegates, newcomer Robin Grammer leads the pack with $10,402.37 in his MCRIS report.
    The 33-year-old Republican took in $12,116, including an impressive $8,531 in direct contributions for his campaign.
    “Our campaign is ecstatic to be leading in fundraising among the candidates for this race.  We are proud to have successfully replaced the thousand-dollar-per-plate fundraisers with small community-based events,” Grammer said.
    “Our lead in this race is proof that our communities are ready to make Maryland work again.”   
    Republican Bob Long, making his second House bid, listed $6,761.15 in his MCRIS report, and former Delegate and Democratic candidate Jake Mohorovic reported that he had $6,079,98 as of Jan. 15.
    The most surprising revelation in the January reports was that two experienced candidates, both considered likely to be among the front-runners, reported campaign treasuries under $700.
    Democrat Eric Washington, who ran for the House in 2006, reported a balance of $685.56 in January. Washington did not spend any funds in 2013 and raised $500 between Jan. 10, 2013 and Jan. 8, 2014.
    After holding a fundraiser in 2012, Washington did not hold any events in 2013 and believes his campaign will be fine. He said he has a fundraiser scheduled for April.
    “No, I am not concerned. My first fundraiser [in 2012] brought in thousands, which I used for campaign materials,” Washington said.
    “While money is important, being involved with the community is more important.  [I’m been a] CCBC instructor the past 10 years, PTA president at Dundalk Middle [School] and volunteered in many of our district’s youth and adult programs.”
    “It’s the work, not the money.”
 Two-time Republican nominee Ric Metzgar’s numbers showed him with only $166.16.
    According to MCRIS reports, Metzgar, who ran for the House in 2006 and 2010, entered 2013 with a total of $121.34. He raised $4,749.97 last year, but spent $4,705.15.
    Metzgar responded that he has spent money to promote his campaign. He also said that he does not have loans to pay, as some other candidates do, and that he is planning another fundraiser.
    ”I’m starting a huge push for funds at my fund-raiser,” Metzgar said. “Remember, I am a conservative. [I] spend only what is needed.”
    Democratic newcomer Marcus Foreman had a reported $14.25 in his account.
    Democrat Jonathan Campbell and Republican candidates Mitch Toland Jr. and Roger Zajdel have each signed an affidavit of limited contributions and expenditures, in which
where they agree to not spend or receive contributions totaling in excess of $1,000.
    There were no reports filed by Democratic House candidates Er Crizer and Larry Harmel, both of whom filed for office near the January deadline.
    There were also no reports for House candidate Dan Libertore and Senate candidate Johnny Ray Salling. Both Republicans
filed for office last summer and were both fined $160 each for not filing a campaign finance report.
    Libertore later signed an affidavit of limited contributions and expenditures on Feb. 6.
    “I think that the money mixed in with the politics is part of the problem. I know that at some point it becomes necessary, but I’m gonna take this route,”  Libertore explained.


DiCara has most money in council race ... so far

Latest reports based on Jan.15 campaign data 

by Ben Boehl

    When County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. announced that he would not seek re-election this year, Democratic candidates started to come out for that open seat.
    Some say that the council race is hard to figure out. Many had Essex-Middle River Renaissance Corporation president Joe DiCara as the early favorite when he announced his candidacy back in November, but then Olszewski endorsed County Seal Democratic Club president Ron Yeatman and former Councilman Joe Bartenfelder went on to endorse former New 7th Democratic Club president C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald.
    With Greater Dundalk Community Council  president Scott Holupka also in the race, who has the advantage?
    The first round of campaign finance reports for the 2014 election is now available. While it is true that having the most funds does not necessarily translate into a victory, history shows the candidates with the most money can have a major advantage.
    Moreover, successful fundraising can be interpreted as an indication of a candidate’s broader appeal, and sources of funding can say much about a specific candidate.
    According to the Maryland Campaign Reporting Information System (MCRIS), DiCara had $8,085.15 in his campaign treasury at the Jan. 15 deadline.
    DiCara’s report showed that he had received  $8,980 and over 34 contributions were under $1,000. He did receive one $1,000 contribution from the International Union of Operating Engineers.
    “It is indicative of how I live my life and of my career. It is a diversity from people who are not known to community leaders and business owners” DiCara said.
    “The way I have lived my life is to work with everybody. That is how I plan to work in the council.”
    Yeatman reported a cash balance of $5,679.19. Most of his contributions came in larger sums.
    The MCRIS reported that Yeatman received $1,000 each from the Baltimore County Firefighters PAC and the County Seal Democratic Club (of which Yeatman is president).
    Yeatman also received $3,000 from John  Olszewski Sr.’s campaign committee. Olszewski officially endorsed Yeatman on Jan. 17.
    One political insider said he was more impressed with DiCara because his contributions were more diverse.
    “The $3,000 contribution is from (Olszewski). It is nothing Ron went out and worked for by himself, as compared to Joe DiCara whose financial report demonstrates a diversity of support in and out of the district,”  the insider explained.
    Holupka reported $2,025 and Staigerwald had $1,013.22 in his account as of Jan. 15.
    Staigerwald raised $2,250, but spent $1,236.78 on campaign items.
    The reports were filed before Staigerwald’s fundraiser on Feb. 8 and Yeatman’s fundraiser on Jan. 28.
    Meanwhile, Republican Todd Crandell still does not have a primary opponent as the Feb. 25 filing deadline nears, but that has not kept him from building up his war chest.    
    Crandell’s report showed him raising $7,760, second to DiCara’s $8,980. Crandell has spent the most money of any council candidate as of Jan. 15.
    The MRIS report shows that Crandell spent $2,337.31 on campaign expenditures such as printing and campaign materials and purchasing booth space at local events and carnivals.
    One interesting piece of activity is the donations by the Baltimore County Firefighters PAC.
    The organization  gave Yeatman $1,000 on Jan. 3 and gave DiCara $500 on Nov. 18, before Yeatman officially entered the race.    
    However, there was no report of Staigerwald, who is president of the North Point-Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department, receiving any money from the Firefighters PAC.
    Michael K. Day Sr., president of the Baltimore County Professional Fire Fighters Association explained that the  firefighters PAC did receive solicitations for contributions from DiCara and Yeatman, but did not receive any requests from the Staigerwald and Holupka camps.
    Staigerwald explained that he sent a contribution request letter to a third party and he said he blames himself for not directly going to Day for a contribution.
    Day added that contributions are given to candidates with the most strengths and that the firefighters PAC has not been impressed with the Staigerwald campaign.
    “A lot of it has to deal with electability,” Day explained.
    “I don’t think [Staigerwald] has a [strong campaign]. I don’t think it is pulling together.”   
    Staigerwald responded that his campaign did not get going until his Feb. 8 fundraiser, at which he had a large turnout and got an endorsement by former Councilman Joe Bartenfelder.
    Staigerwald said he plans to contact Day and the firefighters PAC.
    “Everybody has their opinion, and I hope Mike realized that I had over 300 people at [the fund raiser], but at the same time, I respect his opinion. I will send something out to Mike.”