Rep. Steny Hoyer and state Delegate Anthony J. O'Donnell are the only 5th District primary candidates with any significant campaign funds, according to year-end financial reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
And though they are from different parties, they are already running as though they will be facing each other in the fall.
Mr. Hoyer, a Democrat and the House minority whip, has spent 31 years in Congress and it showed in his fundraising ability. Mr. Hoyer pulled in $376,125 in the final quarter of 2011, leaving him with slightly more than $1.1 million in cash on hand, according to his campaign finance disclosure filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.
Mr. O'Donnell, the Republican challenger, reported $13,695 raised by the end of 2011 after declaring his candidacy in mid-December. Of that, $1,000 came from party committees, his campaign finance disclosure stated. According to the report, Mr. O'Donnell held $13,590 in cash on hand heading into 2012.
Mr. O'Donnell's campaign said his ability to raise money was limited by the short time between that date and the end of the year, as well as by the holiday season.
Mr. Hoyer's campaign listed major donors including AT&T Corp. chairman and CEO Randall L. Stephenson, Philip Morris International chairman and CEO Louis Camilleri, and Exelon Corp. Vice President Mary Streett, each of whom donated $1,000.
Mr. Hoyer's donation list prompted a broadside from the O'Donnell campaign. Campaign consultant Kevin Igoe wrote in an email that Mr. Hoyer is "like a human vacuum when it comes to sucking up special interest cash."
"Hardworking families in Southern Maryland, Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties would be better served if Hoyer would spend less time with lobbyists and more time trying to pass a budget for America," Mr. Igoe wrote.
While Hoyer has not attacked any Republican candidates in the race, harsh criticism is not unusual for the insurgent O'Donnell campaign.
Mr. O'Donnell recently denounced as "imbecilic" comments Mr. Hoyer made about the federal government being able to function without a formal budget.
Both candidates have primary opposition, but they are not considered serious opponents. Mr. Hoyer faces Cathy Johnson Pendleton of Laurel, founder of GAM-JAM Publishing Co., while Mr. O'Donnell has two opponents: motorcycle technician David Hill of Bowie and author Glenn Troy Morton of Largo.
Both Mr. O'Donnell and Mr. Hoyer are the clear frontrunners heading into the April 3 primary, Michael Cain, a political science professor at St. Mary's College, said.
"We would expect them both to win handily," Mr. Cain said. As longtime officeholders in the region, he added, they both enjoy significant advantages in name recognition over their primary opponents.
Of the other candidates, the only one to file a year-end financial report with the FEC was Ms. Johnson Pendleton. Her campaign reported taking in $133 last quarter. Of that sum, $60 was contributed by the candidate herself.
The Hoyer campaign declined to comment for this story, with Hoyer spokeswoman Maureen Beach writing in an email that "it is our policy not to comment on fundraising reports."