- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley last year raised $4.3 million for his gubernatorial campaign, almost three times as much as his top Democratic rival — but still behind Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, who is thought to have raised about $6 million in the same period.

Mr. O’Malley’s opponent in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, raised $1.3 million, according to finance reports that the campaigns will turn in to elections officials today.

Mr. O’Malley released his fundraising totals on Monday.

Duncan campaign officials and supporters downplayed the fundraising gap.

“We have always expected our opponents to raise more money than us, so it’s no surprise they did,” campaign manager Scott Arceneaux said. “However, this race is not about money … it’s about the future of Maryland and the records of the candidates.”

But O’Malley spokesman Jonathan Epstein said the numbers “speak for themselves.”

“It adds to our growing momentum of consistent leads in polls, the quality of the lieutenant governor candidate we were able to attract, the flurry of early endorsements from across Maryland, and the strong grass-roots organization we’ve been able to assemble,” Mr. Epstein said.

Mr. O’Malley now has $4.2 million in his war chest, compared with Mr. Duncan’s $1.4 million.

Both Democrats are expected to be far behind the campaign totals for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who will announce his official totals today. He is thought to have about $10 million, which would just about match the $10.5 million that he raised for his entire 2002 campaign.

Mr. Duncan’s supporters said they will focus on grass-roots campaigning.

“Right now, it’s an insider’s game. The voters aren’t paying attention,” said state Sen. Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County Democrat, who has endorsed Mr. Duncan.

“Right now, Doug is building up his grass-roots campaign, his army. That’s below the radar. You’re going to see a groundswell of grass-roots support for him,” Mr. Garagiola said.

David Rodich, executive director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 500, which has also endorsed Mr. Duncan, agreed.

“Dollars are a factor, but they’re not the only factor. Having the capacity to go out and reach voters is very critical as well,” he said.

Mr. O’Malley’s supporters said the fundraising trends are significant.

“It’s a measurement of people’s support across the state,” said Delegate Neil Quinter, Howard County Democrat.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that close. I think the general election is going to be closer to be honest,” Mr. Quinter said. “It’s not to say Doug Duncan is a bad guy or would make a bad governor. I just think that Mayor O’Malley is a better candidate to beat Bob Ehrlich.”

Mr. Rodich said that Mr. Duncan is being underestimated.

“There is a long history of people counting Doug Duncan out in elections. I think it would be foolish for anybody to be counting him out at this point,” Mr. Rodich said.

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