Harford executive far ahead in fundraising

Craig's account tops opponent's 2-to-1


Harford County Executive David R. Craig, freed of a self-imposed ban on campaign fundraising earlier in the year, raised more than $200,000 since February, well outpacing his Democratic rival and reaffirming the Republican as the front-runner.

According to campaign finance reports filed this week, Craig trounced opponent Ann C. Helton, who reported $40,788 in contributions from Jan. 13 through Aug. 8 after a fast start to her campaign. Craig, a Republican who was appointed county executive in July 2005, has raised $348,924 so far, compared with Helton's $145,833.

Craig began collecting contributions a month after his self-imposed fundraising moratorium expired Jan. 1, collecting more than $50,000 in February alone as the council debated the comprehensive rezoning bill. Craig ultimately vetoed the bill.

"After Jan. 1, I was done with the issue of comprehensive zoning and it became a council issue," said Craig, who was attending a conference in Ocean City yesterday.

For the period ending in January -- when candidates last reported campaign cash -- Helton had collected $106,700 to Craig's $46,200. Craig supporters had cautioned that totals had been affected by the comprehensive rezoning ban.

A review of Helton's most recent fundraising report shows a sharp drop in contributions after an early burst out of the gate. Fifty-one of her first 68 contributions were for $1,000 or more, many of them from close friends, campaign workers and relatives, and she eclipsed the total raised by 2002 Democrat candidate Paul Gilbert.

Since then, contributions have come in much smaller chunks.

"I'm happy with where I am and what I have to do," Helton said. "Many of my large expenses are planned and paid for."

Mark Fisher, a Republican challenging Craig in the primary, has opted against fundraising. He said he wants to put the focus on issues.


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