Harvesting the rewards of incumbency, freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil has expanded his financial edge over potential 2010 Republican challenger Andy Harris, according to new campaign finance reports.
Their latest Federal Election Commission filings show Kratovil outraising Harris by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.The contest for Maryland's 1st Congressional District, which includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties, is one of the most closely watched in the nation. In 2008, Kratovil benefited from a strong Democratic trend, but the district leans Republican, making him among the most vulnerable House Democrats.
The fundraising edge that incumbents generally enjoy is particularly pronounced this year, with sweeping legislative battles in Washington affecting powerful interests.
Fights to overhaul the nation's health care and energy sectors helped the Eastern Shore Democrat raise $296,928 in the three-month period ending June 30.
Donations from political action committees, representing a wide range of special interests, again accounted for a clear majority of the congressman's campaign take.
Kratovil received more money from PACs - $162,564 - than Harris received from all sources combined.
Harris, a Baltimore County state senator, collected $118,299 over the same period, between April 1 and June 30. Most of that - about $91,600 - came from individuals, while just over $26,600 was from PACs.
Multibillion-dollar lobbying and legislative wars over health care and energy brought Kratovil contributions from PACs affiliated with insurance companies, drugmakers, nurses, electric power companies, the nuclear industry and others.
Harris, hoping to avenge his narrow loss to Kratovil last time, continues to attract money from fellow anesthesiologists. He also drew contributions from PACs tied to medical and conservative groups.
A highly publicized Harris fundraising event with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, however, does not appear to have attracted many large donations. Just over $6,000 in contributions were recorded on the date of the event, including $1,000 from Joe Gaylord, a longtime Gingrich adviser who lives in St. Michaels.
At the halfway point of 2009, Kratovil has just over a half-million dollars in the bank to Harris' $210,000. Kratovil is unopposed for his party's nomination, but a Republican primary fight would seriously drain Harris' resources.