Democratic heavy hitters have put their money where their mouths are, opening their wallets to finance state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno's bid for re-election in District 31.
A Brooklyn Park Democrat seeking his second Senate term, Jimeno and his supporters have repeatedly criticized his opponent, Republican John R.
Leopold, for raising more than $163,000 as an unofficial county executive candidate before entering the Senate race in June.
Democratic leaders have contributed $12,350 to Jimeno's campaign this fall, giving the senator $85,559 to battle Leopold, a two-term state delegate from Pasadena. Leopold has raised slightly more than $4,000 since June, but has had to return more $2,200 to contributors.
"There was a question of fairness," said Senate President Thomas V.
"Mike" Miller. "Phil's opponent raised a pool of money 10 times larger than his under the pretext of running for county executive."
"You can basically buy a state senate seat for that kind of money," said Jerry Grant, chief aide to U.S Representative Tom McMillen, D-4th, referring to Leopold's campaign finances. "We thought that was unfair."
Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Reflections Committee, one of the governor's several campaign committees, donated $5,000. Miller, D-Prince George's, and his Marylanders for Miller campaign contributed $2,500.
Baltimore City Mayor Kurt Schmoke has given $1,000.
County Executive O. James Lighthizer, who cannot by law serve a third consecutive term, contributed $2,000. The McMillen for Congress campaign donated $1,000.
State Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale, added $500 to Jimeno's coffers; his family restaurant supply business, H & M Wagner and Sons, gave $200.
Former District 31 Delegate William Burkhead and his Friends of Bill Burkhead committee donated $300.
"I don't indiscriminately make contributions outside of Prince George's County," Miller said. "I know Phil's family, I know his wife, I know his children. He's a man of good moral fiber.
"When you see someone like Phil, running against somebody of the nature of his opponent, you just want to help."
Leopold said the contributions "just show that he's tied hook, line and sinker with the tax-and-spend policies of the Schaefer administration."
"The special interests are fueling my opponent's campaign," said Leopold, who noted that Jimeno also has received $22,150 from political action committees, compared to the delegate's $7,825.
Leopold also noted that Miller, an attorney, opposes no-fault auto insurance. Leopold has unsuccessfully pressed the legislature to approve optional no-fault insurance the last two years.
Leopold said he doesn't mind the attacks from the state's top elected leaders. "The Democratic hierarchy just doesn't like members of the opposition party who they consider a threat to be competitive," he said.
Miller countered, "If Phil was the Republican and Leopold was the Democrat, I'd still send Phil $2,500. I feel that strongly about that race."