ANNAPOLIS — Candidates for Maryland’s 1st Congressional District released their fundraising totals yesterday, in what is likely to be the most expensive race for the House seat.
State Sen. Andrew P. Harris, a Baltimore County Republican, leads the Republican race with $175,000 raised through June 30, but faces an uphill battle against nine-term incumbent Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, Eastern Shore Republican.
Mr. Gilchrest has raised $90,000 and has more than $350,000 cash on hand.
Mr. Harris has staked his campaign on voters being discontent with Mr. Gilchrest’s opposition to the Iraq war and his recent votes with the Democratic majority in Congress.
“I think we’ve found there’s a lot of sentiment for making a change,” said Mr. Harris, who has set a primary fundraising goal of $600,000 to $750,000.
Mr. Gilchrest’s staff says they are confident the congressman will fend off Republican and Democratic challengers in 2008.
“Our general reaction is that Harris has been talking about running for Congress for three years now, so we figured he would have more [money] than he has …,” said Tony Caligiuri, Mr. Gilchrest’s chief of staff.
Mr. Gilchrest has routinely beat Republican and Democratic challengers since taking office in 1990 but has not always outspent them.
The last Republican challenger to outspend him, David W. Fischer, spent $555,000 in 2002 but lost by 24 points.
Mr. Gilchrest spent $440,000 in the primary and general elections combined in 2002.
The last four Democratic challengers to Mr. Gilchrest have spent an average of $58,000.
Democratic challenger Frank M. Kratovil Jr. has raised $81,000. Mr. Kratovil, Queen Anne’s County state’s attorney, said in an e-mail to supporters that he hopes to raise a total $1.5 million for the primary and general campaigns.
“We’ve only really started that within the last month or so,” he said yesterday. “To raise that kind of money is a good sign.”
Mr. Kratovil has gained the backing of most state Democrats over his primary opponent, Christopher R. Robinson, who lost in the Democratic primary last year.
Mr. Robinson, an Eastern Shore attorney who spent more than $26,000 in last year’s race, was unavailable for comment.
Winners from the 2006 congressional elections raised $1.1 million on average, according to the Campaign Finance Institute.