Downcounty Dominates Public Financing, Part Five

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part Four illustrated the significant flows of political contributions from downcounty to candidates in public financing. Today, we shall see which communities lagged behind.


Gaithersburg combines an incorporated area with a municipal government and an unincorporated area administered directly by the county. Zip codes in the incorporated and unincorporated areas together account for roughly 14% of the county’s population, and along with Germantown, comprise one of the two biggest population centers in upcounty.

The table below shows amounts and percentages of fundraising from Gaithersburg by executive and council at-large candidates who qualified for matching funds. Winning candidates are shown in red.

Despite its size, Gaithersburg accounted for less than 5% of individual contributions eligible for matching funds. Gaithersburg’s population is slightly larger than the combined populations of Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Kensington. Residents of those areas gave $358,885 to publicly-financed candidates while Gaithersburg residents gave $60,800.


Germantown’s zip codes account for roughly 9% of the county’s population but its residents donated less than 2% of the in-county individual contributions received by candidates in public financing. Germantown’s population is larger than Bethesda’s. Nevertheless, Bethesda residents contributed $194,124 to publicly financed candidates while Germantown residents gave $26,080.

The tables below shows areas with significant population but lower than average participation rates in public financing. Note their concentration in upcounty and east county.

Public financing is here to stay and many – perhaps even most – county politicians will use it. Politicians go where the money is and they tend to be particularly attentive to constituencies who contribute. Right now, this system favors downcounty, where concentrations of contributors and high-frequency voters tend to be located. If other parts of the county want to get equal attention, they are going to have to run some candidates and get behind them with money and votes.