O'Malley puts campaign funds to work

Mayor gives $57,000 to help 10 incumbents win primary for City Council

January 28, 2004|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

Call him Mayor O'Money.

Mayor Martin O'Malley was the biggest financial backer of nearly every incumbent City Council member who won September's Democratic primary elections and was the recipient of wide support from both businesses and unions, according to the mayor's year-end campaign finance report.

During last year's campaign, the mayor pumped $57,000 into the coffers of 10 victorious incumbent council members. He also gave $13,000 to the campaigns of four losing candidates, two of whom were incumbents.

O'Malley raised nearly $1.9 million in campaign contributions last year, nearly all of it from a single event. He spent $2.1 million, incurring the bulk of those costs in the final weeks before easily defeating high school principal Andrey Bundley in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary. O'Malley, who began the year with more than $1 million in his campaign account, reported a cash balance of $832,058 in his latest finance report filed this month.

The victorious incumbent candidates who benefited from O'Malley's largesse were President Sheila Dixon, Vice President Stephanie C. Rawlings Blake, Paula Johnson Branch, Robert W. Curran, Kenneth N. Harris Sr., Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., Edward L. Reisinger, Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Agnes Welch.

O'Malley's contributions of $6,000 to each made him one of the biggest benefactors for all of those candidates.

In one council race, O'Malley split his generosity between two incumbents competing for the same seat, giving $3,000 each to Helen L. Holton and Melvin L. Stukes. Holton defeated Stukes.

In two other council races in which no incumbents ran, O'Malley backed two losers with $2,000 each.

Councilwoman Lois A. Garey also received $6,000 from O'Malley, but she lost in her bid for the Democratic nomination against Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. D'Adamo, who received no money from O'Malley, is an ally of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The mayor is widely expected to challenge Ehrlich in 2006.

Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University, said O'Malley's campaign fund-raising prowess rivals that of Ehrlich and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. If O'Malley runs for governor, he may have to face Duncan in the Democratic primary.

Crenson said the mayor's generosity to council members will likely persuade them to "refrain from making troubles for O'Malley for leaving [the mayor's office] early to run for governor."

O'Malley's flush position stemmed from a successful fund-raising season, especially his May 14 fund-raiser at the Ravens stadium that netted his campaign $1.6 million and charged a top price of $4,000.

Many of Baltimore's top business leaders and companies were counted among the mayor's $4,000 club: Arthur B. Modell, owner of the Ravens; David Oros, founder of Aether Systems Inc.; and developer Otis Warren Jr.

Five organizations gave $6,000, the maximum groups can contribute. Among them were former state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman's campaign account; the law firm of Whiteford, Taylor and Preston; and the United Industrial Workers. Several other unions also gave to O'Malley's campaign, including Baltimore City Fire Fighters Local 734, United Steelworkers of America and the Baltimore Teachers Union.

O'Malley's latest campaign report can be accessed at the state Board of Elections Website at www.elections.state.md.us.

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