- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin’s campaign for U.S. Senate raised $925,000 in the second quarter, which has dropped the Democratic candidate’s cash-on-hand total below that of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the Republican front-runner, according to statistics released yesterday.

Mr. Steele raised about $1.8 million in the quarter — from April to June — and now has about $3 million on hand, with donations from more than 15,000 persons. Mr. Cardin now has $2.3 million, from about 8,500 contributors.

Cardin campaign officials have said that national Republicans are “making good on their promise to pump millions into the state for Michael Steele.”

Steele spokesman Doug Heye said the latest news is “another sign of [Steele’s] growing momentum.”

Cardin spokesman Oren Shur said the 10-term congressman from Baltimore “is the only candidate with the experience and strong campaign organization needed to defeat Steele in November.”

However, Mr. Cardin is facing a tough test in the Democratic primary from Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman and past president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Mr. Mfume raised only $135,000 in the second quarter, but this past week he brought in $100,000 at two fundraisers.

“We expect the next reporting to be a significant increase due to increased momentum of our campaign,” said Mfume spokesman Mark Clack.

Bethesda businessman Josh Rales’ candidacy could also work against the Cardin campaign in the Sept 12 primary. Mr. Rales is spending millions of his own fortune to broadcast seemingly non-stop TV ads that could siphon critical support from Mr. Cardin in Montgomery County.

Democratic leaders had hoped that Mr. Mfume would drop out early, leaving Mr. Cardin an open path to a showdown with Mr. Steele.

However, Mr. Cardin had to spend $680,000 in the second quarter to secure television time during the last two weeks of August, which helped deplete his war chest.


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