- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has raised more money this year for his U.S. Senate campaign than Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the leading Democratic candidate, according to campaign sources.

Mr. Steele, a Republican, raised $1.3 million from January to March, while Mr. Cardin raised almost $1 million, the candidates’ campaigns said.

When the official campaign finance figures are released tomorrow, Mr. Steele will report having $1.76 million on hand, and Mr. Cardin $2.6 million.

Meanwhile, the most recent Democratic poll shows Mr. Cardin, a 10-term congressman from Baltimore, in a dead heat with Kweisi Mfume, a former Maryland congressman and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

A poll conducted by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group shows Mr. Cardin with 32 percent of the vote and Mr. Mfume with 31 percent, far ahead of the other five candidates. Thirty-two percent were undecided.

The poll of 505 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted April 3 through 6 and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

The poll was commissioned by Delegate Peter Franchot, a Montgomery Democrat who is challenging Comptroller William Donald Schaeffer, a fellow Democrat, for his position in the fall.

The poll showed Mr. Schaeffer, a former governor and mayor of Baltimore, receiving 42 percent of the vote and Mr. Franchot receiving 36 percent, with 22 percent undecided.

In the Senate race, Mr. Steele outraised Mr. Cardin for the second quarter in a row. From October through December, Mr. Steele raised $853,000 to Mr. Cardin’s $850,000.

However, Mr. Cardin has been outspending Mr. Steele. During the first quarter this year, Mr. Cardin spent about $500,000 on his campaign and Mr. Steele about $330,000.

Mr. Steele was helped during the first quarter by fundraisers with top Republicans, including Vice President Dick Cheney; former White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr.; Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee; and Virginia Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner.

A recently leaked internal Democratic memo showed that Democrats think that Mr. Steele is a “unique threat” to their “stronghold” of black voters, and that they must link him to national Republicans to “knock [him] down.”

“Michael Steele’s ATM card is from the Bush bank and dispenses archconservative cash. We know that the national Republicans are going to raise money for Steele because he’s one of their own,” state Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman said.

Cardin spokesman Oren Shur called him the “best candidate to beat the Bush-Steele team next November.”

Steele spokeswoman Melissa Sellers said the fundraising totals show that “Marylanders are tired of Washington-style politics as usual and know they will have a fresh new, independent voice in Michael Steele.”

Miss Sellers said that Mr. Steele has 10,000 individual donors, compared with Mr. Cardin’s 6,500, and that Mr. Cardin has received $4.2 million from “special interests” during his 20 years in Congress.

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