Gov. Martin O'Malley pulled in $4.78 million in campaign donations during the past year, giving the incumbent governor $5.72 million available to date for his re-election effort, according to figures released Thursday by the campaign.
"We feel like it is a good strong number," said O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell. "It puts us in a strong place for the election year."
State law prohibits the governor from raising money for the next three months, while the General Assembly is in session. But Russell predicts that the fundraising will pick up later. "I do expect we will be fairly busy when we get to the point where we can raise again," Russell said.
The campaign says they've raised money from 6,200 donors.
The number reflects significantly more fundraising activity than in 2008, when O'Malley raised $1,343,654. The new figure reflects the combined balances of three different campaign accounts - O'Malley's, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown's and a joint O'Malley-Brown account, Russell said.
George W. Owings III, a former Maryland veterans affairs secretary who announced earlier this month that he will challenge O'Malley in the primary, called the governor's numbers "impressive." He attributed the cash influx to incumbency.
"He does have a lot of well-heeled individuals who relish the access," Owings said. "You pay for it."
Owings said his report will show that he only has about $300 or $400 in the bank and says he'll need "a couple of million" to challenge the governor.
He says his efforts will rely on populist sentiment, not a slick campaign organization. "If this campaign gets any traction, it is going to come from the grass roots up."
So far, O'Malley doesn't face any well-known general election opponents, though former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is contemplating running again.