Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mike Hargadon knows a lot of people, and he’s asking them to help him unseat seven-term incumbent Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat, in Maryland’s 7th District.

He likely will need full participation.

Mr. Hargadon, a first-time Republican candidate, is running in a district in which Democrats outnumber Republicans 4-to-1 and in which Mr. Cummings has an 80-to-1 advantage in campaign dollars.

As of June 30, Mr. Hargadon’s campaign had $8,459 in donations, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Mr. Cummings’ campaign had raised $714,748.

Mr. Hargadon, a self-described “Ron Paul Republican,” said his chances of winning the November election will be better if he can raise $40,000. He wants to advertise on the radio because he does not think people watch television anymore.

“Radio is where I think we’re going to make some real headway,” he said.

Mr. Hargadon has already made lawn signs, buttons and bumper stickers. He campaigned at the Howard County Fair and has other appearances planned.

“Dr. Mike,” as the dentist-turned-candidate is known by supporters, has made T-shirts with “I like Mike” printed on them. He has sent letters to everybody he knows, and his campaign workers have started compiling a database of supporters, including friends from his 25-year career in dentistry.

It is unusual for a Republican to have such an organized campaign in such a heavily Democratic district, said Justin Ready, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. The district encompasses parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County.

However, the campaign has yet to attract big campaign dollars. The majority of Mr. Hargadon’s money has come in small amounts from individual donors.

Most of Mr. Cummings’ money, according to FEC reports, comes from political action committees (PAC), companies or groups of people who give to a campaign. Mr. Hargadon has said he will not take PAC money.

“I don’t want to be beholden to anybody but the people in the state,” he said. “I don’t want anybody holding strings on me.”

Mike Christianson, counsel for Mr. Cummings, said that because the congressman has to run every two years, he needs to stockpile money in case there is a particularly difficult opposing candidate one year.

Although Mr. Hargadon thinks television ads are ineffective, Mr. Cummings likes to run them during difficult campaigns, Mr. Christianson said.

“It’s unlikely that the congressman will spend money on television on this campaign unless he’s attacked in the media,” he said.

Mr. Hargadon said he’s optimistic about his chances. “We’re doing the best we can,” he said. “Elijah Cummings was unopposed last time, and a lot of people say he doesn’t represent them.”

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