Smith reports raising more than $500,000

January 22, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. raised more than $500,000 in his first year in office, about half as much as he spent during his 2002 campaign.

The executive's take is well below that of the state's political stars, such as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, but on a par with what his predecessor, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, typically raised in a year when he was county executive.

"He's on track," said Robert J. Barrett, Baltimore County's recreation and parks director and Ruppersberger's right-hand man when he was executive.

Smith, who has three years remaining in his term, raised $507,850 in the 53-week period that ended Jan. 19. In that time, he spent $120,572.85, leaving him with just under $400,000 in the bank, according to a funding-raising report filed yesterday with the state Board of Elections.

The report is, in many ways, a testament to the power of incumbency and the professionalization of Smith's fund-raising organization.

In his run for office in 2002, Smith's campaign and fund-raising operation was run entirely by family and volunteers. In that race, he raised about 60 percent of his donations from corporations, political action committees and other politicians, with an average donation of just over $400.

In the last year, he has turned over fund-raising operations to Colleen Martin-Lauer, who is also O'Malley's chief fund-raiser. More than 70 percent of his contributions in the past year were from corporations, PACs and other groups, with an average donation of $633.

Most of Smith's biggest donors are real estate, construction and development companies and attorneys, the report shows.

No other Baltimore County politicians are raising nearly as much money as the executive.

The two Democrats Smith's campaign asked about in an August poll, County Councilmen Joseph Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz, raised $35,807.36 and $54,194.12, respectively, according to their campaign finance reports.

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