Fundraising Expectations for Candidates Continue to Rise Across the State of Maryland

Common Cause Maryland released research today analyzing winning legislative candidates’ fundraising totals from the 2018 election cycle. “Campaign in Maryland: Does it Still Cost a lot to Win?,” a sequel to our previous report analyzing the 2014 election cycle, documents how fundraising expectations for candidates continue to rise. From the years 2015-2018, Senators, on average, received a contribution total of $266,000.00. This amount of contributions was a slight decrease from the 2014 election cycle, but it is still a significant amount of money raised for state senate seats on average. Delegates received an average contribution total of $125,499.00, which is a 64% increase from the 2014 election where the average amount fundraised was $79,878.00.

“While it seems the average for Senate seats took a slight dip, it doesn’t mean the cost to run for a Senate seat in Maryland is not still really high depending on what county candidates run in,”  said Tierra Bradford, Policy Manager for Common Cause Maryland and author of the report.

“The average does not reflect that the highest total of contributions raised for a Senate seat in the 2018 election cycle is higher than the highest total previously raised in the 2014 election cycle. Additionally, the average fundraising for a delegate seat rose substantially. To me, this indicates that if nothing changes, we can expect to see fundraising totals continue to rise each cycle.”

“This report only focuses on how much candidates raised, not how much they spent or any spending done by independent groups. What we want to get across is how some candidates may feel they are at the mercy of major donors and corporations because the cost to run a competitive race only continues to rise. Based on numbers, readers can infer which candidates in different counties and regions may feel the most pressure to fundraise in high amounts.”

“We need reform that can help lower the cost of running competitive campaigns in Maryland elections,” says Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland. “Currently, Montgomery County, Howard County, and Prince George’s County have these programs in place, and Baltimore City and Baltimore County are right behind them. We must seek out reforms like Public Financing Programs that will change the culture of campaign fundraising to focus on how many constituents’ candidates are able to reach, not on how much candidates were able to raise.”

Bradford produced the report by using the state’s campaign finance database to gather each winning candidate’s total contributions from January 2015 through December 2018. She then averaged the contribution totals by region and county.

To read the full report, click here.