Dels. Bill Frick of Bethesda and Aruna Miller of Darnestown—both of whom intend to run for the District 6 congressional seat if U.S. Rep. John Delaney vacates it to seek the governorship or pursue other opportunities in 2018—raised more campaign funds than Delaney during the second quarter of 2017, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission late Saturday.
Miller, who established a campaign committee with the FEC in early May, took in more than $355,000 in the ensuing two-month period by tapping into a nationwide network of Indian-American professionals and entrepreneurs. If elected, Miller—who was born in India and emigrated to the United States with her family as a child—would be the first Indian-American member of Congress from Maryland.
More than 95 percent of the contributors to Miller in the latest report were of Indian-American ancestry, and, among the latter group of donors, more than four-fifths reside outside the state of Maryland—with Michigan, Texas and Virginia among the top states from which Miller received contributions.
Frick, who became majority leader of the House of Delegates shortly after the start of the 2017 session, reported raising $213,000 since creating his congressional campaign committee in mid-April. Frick relied heavily on the legal community inside and outside of Washington for his initial fundraising haul, with about $30,000—nearly 15 percent of what he took in—coming from 40 individuals associated with the prominent Washington law firm of Akin Gump, where Frick works.
Delaney, currently scheduled to disclose his political plans at the end of this month, filed a report showing he raised just $127,000 in outside contributions during the second quarter of the year, significantly less than either Frick or Miller. By comparison, during the same period in the 2015-2016 election cycle, at a time when Delaney had made clear he was seeking re-election, he raised $345,000—nearly three times as much.
As one of the wealthiest members of Congress, Delaney—a former financial services entrepreneur—could afford to self-finance either a race for governor or re-election to the House. But, in three successful runs for Congress since 2012, his practice has been to rely primarily on outside fundraising to underwrite his campaigns. Delaney has given his blessing to Frick, Miller and others to begin fundraising efforts in District 6 as he mulls his political future.
The 6th District was heavily redrawn—critics say gerrymandered—in 2011, a year before Delaney ousted long-time GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. The district now extends from Potomac and Gaithersburg nearly 200 miles west to the edge of the Maryland panhandle; about half of its voters are Montgomery County residents. Delaney is actually a resident of the neighboring 8th Congressional District, as is Frick; the U.S. Constitution requires only that a member of Congress be a resident of the state he or she is representing, not the actual district.
Frick reported campaign expenses of $26,000 over the past three months, leaving him with $187,000 in his campaign treasury as of June 30. Miller, whose campaign spent just over $4,000, reported more than $351,000 on hand, nearly twice as much as Frick. But that gap narrows when taking into consideration the funds each raised that can actually be spent in the forthcoming primary.
Federal law currently limits to $2,700 the amount an individual can give to a congressional campaign each election, with an individual contributor allowed to give up to $5,400 in an election cycle—$2,700 for the primary election and $2,700 for a general election. Many of Miller’s donors gave more than the $2,700 allowed for the primary, resulting in $110,000—about 30 percent of her total recent donations—being eligible for use only if she were to win the nomination in next June’s Democratic primary and go on to compete in the general election. That leaves about $241,000 of her recent fundraising haul available for the primary.
By the same token, nearly $18,000 of what Frick raised is restricted for use in the general election, meaning that just under $170,000 of what he had on hand at the end of June is available for the primary. While most of Frick’s contributions came from individuals, he reported about $7,000 from political committees—including $5,000 from the political action committee of Bethesda-based Marriott International. PACs are allowed to donate up to $5,000 per election.
Among the donors to Miller’s campaign was long-time state Del. Kumar Barve of Rockville, who gave $500. Barve also tapped into the national Indian-American community for contributions in an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year in neighboring District 8. There are currently four Indian-Americans serving in the U.S. House nationwide, along with a senator, California Democrat Kamala Harris, whose mother is of Indian-American heritage. But, prior to them, only two other Indian-Americans had ever served on Capitol Hill.
While Barve was unable to expand his fundraising base significantly beyond the national Indian-American community, Miller could benefit from support from women’s groups unhappy that the 2016 election left Maryland with no women in its congressional delegation. EMILY’S List last year pumped $3 million into then-Rep. Donna Edwards’ bid for the Democratic Senate nomination against now-Sen. Chris Van Hollen, along with another $300,000 to boost the 8th District congressional bid of current Maryland Democratic Chair Kathleen Matthews.
Miller last week told Bethesda Beat that she doesn’t plan to position herself as a women’s candidate, although she added that having a working mother in the delegation would bring diversity and a “different perspective.”
If Delaney opts against re-election, at least three other Democratic contenders besides Frick and Miller are expected to get into the congressional race. One of them, Andrew Duck of Frederick County, filed a FEC report Saturday showing about $20,000 in his campaign treasury, virtually all of it in the form of a loan to himself. Duck was the Democratic candidate against Bartlett in 2006 and 2010.
State Sen. Roger Manno, who represents a legislative district that stretches from Silver Spring to Gaithersburg, is also actively lining up support to run, but has yet to file with the FEC and begin raising money. And Potomac businessman David Trone, who finished second in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 8th District in 2016, has said he is considering either a run for Montgomery County executive or a bid for the 6th District nomination.
Two other state legislators who had earlier contemplated a run in District 6, Dels. Andrew Platt of Gaithersburg and Kirill Reznik of Germantown, are now planning to seek re-election to their current posts.
On the Republican side, Potomac-based national security consultant Amie Hoeber, who lost to Delaney by a 55-41 percent margin in the 2016 general election, is considering another run—but is said to be waiting to see what Delaney does before making a decision. Hoeber still has a campaign committee filed with the FEC, which reported that it neither raised nor spent any money in the April through June period. It showed just $350 in cash on hand and $450,000 in debts—money that Hoeber loaned her campaign in 2015-2016.
In large part, Hoeber’s congressional bid was fueled by a so-called “super PAC,” an independent expenditure committee financed by $3.8 million in donations from Hoeber’s husband, telecommunications executive Mark Epstein. That committee, Maryland USA, has reported no activity since the end of 2016.
Delaney’s latest FEC fundraising report shows him raising $74,000 from political action committees and just $53,000 from individuals during April through June. Of the individual donations, more than half, $28,500, came from members of the real estate brokerage industry both in Maryland and across the country. According to sources, this was part of an effort by the National Association of Realtors to direct contributions to members of Congress who had been supportive of that group’s agenda.
Delaney’s campaign reported just $54,000 in cash on hand as of June 30, and is carrying a total of nearly $1.25 million in loans made by Delaney to his campaign committee over the course of his three successful campaigns. Delaney, who has a personal financial worth of at least $115 million according to disclosure documents filed with the U.S. House, has lent his campaign about $80,000 since the beginning of the year, according to the FEC filing.