Harris Gains on Kratovil in Late 2009 Fundraising

Capital News Service
WASHINGTON – Republican state Sen. Andy Harris outraised incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, in the last quarter of fundraising in Maryland’s highly-contested 1st Congressional District, Federal Election Commission reports show.

Harris raised $270,443 over that period, compared to $237,480 for Kratovil, who still holds a sizable cash-on-hand advantage over Harris by $855,000 to $497,000. The year-end reports, which cover all fundraising from October through December, were filed with the FEC on Jan. 31.

Kratovil defeated Harris in 2008 by fewer than 3,000 votes, and this year’s rematch is expected to be just as competitive.

In the 2008 race, Harris spent just over $3 million while Kratovil spent almost $2 million.

Harris hauled in more cash than Kratovil for the first time during this election cycle, adding to speculation that the freshman incumbent may be in for a serious fight to keep his seat.

“We raised more than 80 percent from individuals, he only has 40 percent from individuals…,” Harris said. “What you’re seeing at this point in the race, the incumbent, as usual, is supported by inside-the-Beltway special interests. Despite that, we were able to raise more money in the last quarter of the year.”

Tim McCann, Kratovil’s campaign manager, said Kratovil is still starting the year in a stronger financial position than Harris and that the money is only as important as the message it supports.

“This is a district that elected someone who campaigned on the promise of being an independent voice,” said McCann. “That’s a promise he’s kept.”

Kratovil bucked his party on multiple occasions during his first year. He voted against the health care reform bill and President Obama’s budget for fiscal 2010. He also showed reluctance to vote for the $787 billion stimulus bill last February.

Tom Schaller, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said Harris’ strong performance is likely to attract even more money as the year goes on because it makes him look like a more viable candidate.

“Just to beat him by a dollar sends a signal. People who look more competitive get more money,” Schaller said. “Harris is in an ideal situation.”

Schaller said he wouldn’t be surprised if national money starts to pour into the race on both sides as Republicans sense an opportunity for a win and Democrats try to shore up Kratovil’s defenses.

Harris seems to have already gotten the attention of Washington Republicans. He said that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., is scheduled to come to the 1st District for a campaign event in early March.

Other fundraising totals for the end of 2009:
1st District*
– Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, raised $237,480.
– Republican Andy Harris raised $270,443.
– Republican Jefferson Ghrist raised $155.
2nd District
– Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville, raised $209,681.
– No challengers filed.
3rd District*
– Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Baltimore, raised $246,085.
4th District
– Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, raised $125,600.
5th District
– Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, raised $475,861.
– Republican Charles Lollar raised $13,535.
– Republican Collins Bailey raised $1,122.
6th District*
– Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, raised $54,105.
– Democrat Casey Clark raised $25,800.
– Democrat Andrew Duck raised $4,466.
7th District
– Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, raised $100,444.
– No challengers filed.
8th District
– Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, D-Kensington, raised $200,285.
– No challengers filed.
* Indicates additional candidates have filed statements of candidacy, but have yet to report significant fundraising activity.

Capital News Service reporter Tiffany March contributed to this report.