By Adam Pagnucco.
It’s time to start looking at the geography of in-county contributions for the thirteen candidates who have so far qualified for public matching funds: County Executive candidates Marc Elrich, Rose Krasnow and George Leventhal and Council At-Large candidates Gabe Albornoz, Bill Conway, Hoan Dang, Evan Glass, Seth Grimes, Will Jawando, Danielle Meitiv, Hans Riemer, Mohammad Siddique and Chris Wilhelm. While all participate in the same system, there are immense differences between them in where they are raising money.
First, an overview.
Long-time Council Members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal lead in public financing fundraising. But former Rockville Mayor and Planning Department staffer Rose Krasnow is closing on them. Krasnow qualified for matching funds in 109 days, far faster than Elrich (209 days) and Leventhal (278 days). All three lead the Council At-Large candidates in total raised primarily because of the higher public matching rate for Executive candidates. Riemer, Conway and Glass lead the council candidates while Meitiv, Siddique and Grimes trail. The fact that some candidates last reported two months ago while others reported within the last few weeks will affect this data somewhat. Including the traditionally funded candidates, Roger Berliner so far leads the Executive candidates while Delegate Charles Barkley is one of the Council At-Large leaders and Ashwani Jain is competitive.
Here’s an important thing to note about public financing: it’s not just about money. It’s also a cornerstone for a field program. The same folks who show up at campaign events and bring small checks are the people who can be tapped for neighbor-to-neighbor letters, canvassing, phone banking, lit drops and poll coverage. The total amount raised is a useful proxy for the number of ardent supporters, so money raised in a local area may be a possible, partial precursor to actual electoral performance.
Now to the three Executive candidates.
Elrich is the number one fundraiser in Downtown Silver Spring, Olney and Takoma Park, the latter by a mile. His contributions have been heavily concentrated in the Democratic Crescent, which accounts for 53% of all in-county contributions and 68% of in-county contributions to Elrich. This resembles the Downcounty support for Jamie Raskin in his 2016 race for Congress. That distribution along with Elrich’s number one finish in the last two at-large elections and his many progressive endorsements makes him the front runner in the eyes of most observers.
Leventhal, a former Chair of the county Democratic Party, has leveraged his more than twenty years in county politics to assemble the most geographically diverse contribution distribution of the Executive candidates. He is the number one fundraiser in Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Germantown and Montgomery Village. Leventhal leads Elrich in Upcounty but trails him by a lot in the Democratic Crescent. Can Leventhal pull enough votes from Midcounty and Upcounty to overwhelm Elrich’s strength in Silver Spring and Takoma Park and break through?
Krasnow was an elected official in Rockville between 1991 and 2001 and she is crushing both Elrich and Leventhal in money raised from the city. On the other hand, she trails them badly in the Democratic Crescent. Krasnow is off to a fast start in public financing but she needs more exposure in Downcounty areas like Downtown Silver Spring, Bethesda and Chevy Chase. Elrich and Leventhal have been working those places for years and time is getting short.
Next, we will start looking at the Council At-Large candidates.
Disclosure: the author is a publicly-listed supporter of Berliner for Executive.