Mayor Martin O'Malley raised nearly $4.3 million this past year in his campaign to become Maryland's governor, putting the Democrat on solid financial ground as he prepares for September's primary election, his campaign said yesterday.
Since last January, O'Malley increased the cash his campaign had on hand to $4.19 million from $1.04 million, according to a statement he released in advance of a financial disclosure report due this week.
O'Malley's opponents did not reveal yesterday how much they have raised, but the mayor appears to have collected far more than past gubernatorial candidates at the same point in the election cycle.
"This is a campaign with incredible momentum based on Marylanders' desire to elect Martin O'Malley governor," said O'Malley's campaign manager, Jonathan Epstein. "People are disappointed in the lack of progress under Bob Ehrlich."
O'Malley's announcement - which also revealed that the campaign spent just over $1 million in the past year - was a summary of an annual report that candidates must file Wednesday with the State Board of Elections.
The reports will detail who contributed to the campaigns between Jan. 13, 2005, and last Wednesday and how much each gave. They will also document how the campaigns spent money.
Jody Couser, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who will face O'Malley in the Democratic primary, said the Duncan campaign expects to release a summary tomorrow.
Couser declined to comment on O'Malley's fundraising numbers.
Officials with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. did not return phone calls seeking comment, but a spokeswoman with the Maryland Republican Party quipped that O'Malley will need all the money he can get.
"He's going to need a lot of money to pay [public relations] experts to overcome his failures as a mayor," said the spokeswoman, Audra Miller. "He's concentrated more on his career ambitions than on doing the job he's been asked to do."
Miller said the Republican Party is especially interested to see the details of an O'Malley fundraiser held in June at M&T Bank Stadium at which the campaign said it had raised $2 million.
"This is a true test to see if the mayor's word is honorable," Miller said.
O'Malley appears to have raised more than past gubernatorial candidates at this point. Ehrlich, for example, had raised just under $800,000 from January 2001 through January 2002.
At the time, however, Ehrlich was not a declared candidate. He went on to win the election that year after receiving a large boost in contributions as the election drew closer.
Then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who was the Democratic candidate for governor, raised about $2 million from 2001 through early 2002, state campaign records show.
This year, the primary election is scheduled for Sept. 12, and the general election is set for Nov. 7.
All three candidates put on last-minute drives this month to boost their bottom line. Ehrlich's campaign sent an e-mail with the subject line "Time is Running Out!" Duncan and O'Malley also sent e-mails noting the Jan. 11 deadline.
O'Malley officials said their efforts paid off. In the week before the deadline, the O'Malley campaign raised about $100,000 online, according to yesterday's announcement. Overall, Epstein said, the campaign received 2,098 contributions of $100 or less.
A separate campaign committee for Del. Anthony G. Brown, O'Malley's running mate, has about $150,000 on hand, Epstein said.
O'Malley's fundraising efforts faced a disadvantage in that he had to raise money for his 2004 mayoral campaign - a race that required him to solicit millions months before he kicked off his bid for governor.
Ehrlich, on the other hand, must deal with a law that prohibits statewide officeholders from raising money during the legislative session, which continues into April.
The next campaign disclosure deadline is Aug. 15.
Donald F. Norris, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, cautioned against reading too much into early financial statements in an election where tens of millions of dollars could be raised and spent.
"It's a good start, but it's only a start," Norris said of O'Malley's figures. "God only knows what these guys are going to spend."