If Maryland's 6th District election was a poker match, Democrat Milad Pooran would be all in.
The Jefferson physician, whose campaign for the Democratic nomination has largely operated in the shadow of two better-known opponents, announced today he will put $200,000 of his own money into his campaign -- a significant investment of his personal savings, aides said.
The unusual decision comes after a poll the campaign conducted showed nearly 40 percent of voters were still undecided in a race that has so far been dominated by state Sen. Rob Garagiola and businessman John Delaney. Pooran, 35, has cast himself as a progressive alternative to Garagiola and Delaney.
"It's clear from our polling that the race is wide open," said Pooran, whose family emigrated from Iran when he was 6 years old. "Yes, this is a risk, and it is a lot of money for me, but as my mother said, 'We came here with nothing but six suitcases. That was a risk, too.'"
The potential impact of such as last-minute investment is not clear. For starters, Delaney and Garagiola are still likely to outspend Pooran in the final days before the April 3 primary. Delaney's campaign is expected to report raising somewhere around $739,000 since January. Garagiola's campaign has not forecast its finances and the latest Federal Election Commission reports are not likely to be public until Friday.
Campaign aides said Pooran, who works at a Veteran's Administration hospital and serves in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, would use the money for a series of television advertisements and mailings in coming days. Pooran reported raising $68,021 in the fourth quarter of last year.
The track record for self-financed congressional candidates is not particularly good. Of the 58 federal candidates who contributed at least a half-million dollars to their own campaigns in the 2010 midterm election, fewer than one in five won, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis.
Delaney, a Potomac banker, has also invested in his own campaign -- at least $118,000 so far -- and has said he could spend up to $1 million of his own money on the race. However, Delaney's campaign said its large fundraising number for this year comes entirely from independent donors.
Pooran has beeen endorsed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Maryland's 6th District is currently held by 10-term incumbent Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Republican, though its boundaries were redrawn in Annapolis last year to be more competitive. Democrats nationally are eyeing the seat as a potential pickup opportunity that they believe will help them capture control of the House.