Harris cuts into Kratovil's financial lead, disclosures show

Republican Challenger Out-Raises Endangered Incumbent in First Three Months of 2010

April 16, 2010|By Paul West, The Baltimore Sun

Washington — — Republican candidate Andy Harris has cut into Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil's financial advantage in the most closely watched congressional contest in Maryland, new financial disclosure reports show.

The Democratic incumbent has more money in the bank — $1,034,000 as of March 30, to Harris' $703,000. But the Republican raised more than Kratovil during the first three months of the year, collecting $324,000 to the freshman Democrat's $247,000, to narrow the gap.

Federal Election Commission records show both men benefiting from the high-profile character of their potential rematch. Kratovil narrowly defeated Harris in 2008 to become the first Democrat to represent Maryland's easternmost district in almost two decades, and national Republicans have targeted him for defeat.

Republican politicians from around the country, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, are among those funneling contributions from special interests, corporations and lobbyists to Harris, a state senator from Baltimore County. Other Republican lawmakers from Texas, California, Louisana, Ohio and Michigan are also directing money to Harris, who has the support of the national Republican House campaign committee.

Similarly, Democratic House members from other states are channeling special-interest money to Kratovil.

The Eastern Shore congressman is drawing more heavily than Harris on political action committees, a pattern that typically favors incumbents over challengers. Kratovil received $112,000 from PACs, including those representing banking, agriculture, health care, defense contracting, telecom, law-lobby firms and utility companies, during the first three months of the year.

Republican Harris, a licensed physician, continued to receive strong support from PACs representing medical and health care interests around the country, and reported total PAC donations of $78,700 He faces no significant opposition in the September Republican primary and is favored to unseat Kratovil in the conservative 1st District.

Running statewide, Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski reported $979,000 in new contributions for her re-election campaign. The Baltimore Democrat had $2.7 million in her campaign account, a modest amount by national standards but far exceeding that of any potential rival.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland is distributing some of his $2.7 million in re-election funds to other Democrats. He transferred $185,000 last month to the Democrats' national House campaign committee and has given the Maryland Democratic Party $19,500 this year. Hoyer, who has a house in Mechanicsville, also gave $2,000 to the St. Mary's County Democratic Party.

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Frederick, the state's lone Republican and a heavy favorite for re-election, raised $24,900 in the first three months of the year, less than any of his Maryland colleagues. But he also reported no campaign expenses and had $378,000 in the bank.

Among Baltimore-area congressmen, none of whom faces a competitive challenge, Rep. John Sarbanes raised $155,000 and had $637,500 in available cash; Rep. Elijah E. Cummings collected $41,300 and had $760,200 in the bank' and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger reported $85,100 in new donations and $927,600 cash on hand.

paul.west@baltsun.com

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