- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

BALTIMORE (AP) — Mayor Martin O’Malley appears to have raised far more money early in the election cycle than have past challengers for governor — a sign, according to his campaign, that his bid to replace Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is gaining momentum.

The campaign announced Sunday that Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, had raised nearly $4.3 million in the past year and that he has $4.19 million in campaign cash on hand.

“This is a campaign with incredible momentum based on Marylanders’ desire to elect Martin O’Malley governor,” said Mr. O’Malley’s campaign manager, Jonathan Epstein. “People are disappointed in the lack of progress under Bob Ehrlich.”

Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates must file annual financial disclosure reports tomorrow with the state Board of Elections.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Mr. O’Malley’s rival in the Democratic primary, will announce today how much money he has raised, his campaign spokeswoman said.

The reports will detail who contributed to the campaigns between Jan. 13, 2005, and Jan. 11, 2006, and how much each donor gave. They also will document how the campaigns spent money.

Mr. O’Malley appears to be off to a faster start than candidates had been in the 2002 race for governor.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, had raised a little less than $800,000 from January 2001 through January 2002, but he was not a declared candidate at the time.

His Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, raised about $2 million from 2001 through early 2002, state campaign records show.

Despite Mr. O’Malley’s fast start, his fundraising still trails Mr. Ehrlich’s by a substantial margin. The Washington Post reported this month that Mr. Ehrlich likely will have more than $10 million on hand when his finance report is released.

Maryland Republican Party spokeswoman Audra Miller suggested that no matter how much money Mr. O’Malley raises, it won’t be enough.

“He’s going to need a lot of money to pay [public relations] experts to overcome his failures as a mayor,” Miss Miller said. “He’s concentrated more on his career ambitions than on doing the job he’s been asked to do.”

All three candidates put on last-minute drives this month to boost their bottom lines. The O’Malley campaign said it raised about $100,000 online in the week before the deadline.

The primary election is scheduled for Sept. 12, with the general election Nov. 7.

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