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Several Candidates Boost Campaigns With Personal Funds, New Filings Show

Bethesda Physician Hugh Hill Pumps $50,000 Into Senate Bid In District 16

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Hugh Hill

Emergency room physician Hugh Hill filed for the open Senate seat in Bethesda-based District 16 just hours before the Feb. 25 filing deadline, and concedes he faces tough odds. But he is clearly willing to bet a chunk of his own money on succeeding.

Campaign reports filed with the state Board of Elections  this week show Hill, 65, putting $50,000 in personal funds into his campaign, in which he faces Delegate Susan Lee for the seat being vacated by Sen. Brian Frosh. Hill is the latest example of several local candidates this year who have made large personal donations to their bids for the General Assembly, a part-time position that pays $43,500 annually.

Also filing Tuesday was Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member Charlotte Crutchfield, a contender for an open state delegate seat in District 19. Crutchfield reported raising just $4,850, but is largely self-financing her campaign with a $31,600 personal loan and about $3,300 in in-kind contributions. She had more than $34,000 in her campaign treasury with the primary 10 weeks away.

District 19 extends from Silver Spring into Rockville and Gaithersburg. Also aiming at the seat of retiring Delegate Sam Arora are Paul Bardack — a former federal official who reported $14,600 in donations, supplemented by a $3,000 family loan — and Marice Morales, an aide to District 19 Sen. Roger Manno.

Like Morales, a majority of candidates seeking state or county office this year filed financial reports in mid-January, and do not have to file again until the end of May. Crutchfield and Bardack, as well as Hill, were among late-filing candidates who had not formed a campaign committee by the January deadline.  So they were required to file disclosure reports by the close of business on April 15.

At the county level, long-time Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz did not pump any of his own funds into his bid for the District 3 seat being vacated by Councilmember Phil Andrews, a candidate for county executive. But the latest reports show Katz pulling in $61,625 in contributions since announcing in January, with $53,650 remaining on hand.

Katz recently closed his family-owned department store in Gaithersburg, and his business background is bringing him significant financial support from other county businesses, according to his report. His biggest single contributor was Potomac-based developer and patent investor Aris Mardirossian; two corporate entities controlled by Mardirossian donated $7,000, with Mardirossian’s wife giving another $3,000.

Another candidate in District 3, Rockville City Councilmember Tom Moore, trailed Katz in fundraising; he reported raising about $22,000 with $14,700 on hand. Moore, a former journalist, issued a rather blunt appeal as the deadline for donating loomed last week.

“I need your help, and I need it today!” Moore said in an email to potential contributors. “Here’s why: Reporters and bloggers pick up on how much we raise from our fundraising reports, and then send that to every single politico in the state. These stories drive the conversation about who can – and who will – win.”

Two other District 3 candidates, Gaithersburg City Councilmember Ryan Spiegel and party activist Guled Kassim, filed finance reports in January. Spiegel has emerged as the favorite of the county’s influential employee unions: He previously received the endorsement of the Montgomery County Education Association and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, and Tuesday added the backing of SEIU Local 500, which represents the school system’s non-teaching employees.

Republican James Shalleck, who will face the winner of June’s Democratic primary for county executive, Tuesday reported raising just $720 so far, with $470 from Shalleck himself. “This latest filing…doesn’t reflect fundraising,” Shalleck said in an email. “We start our fundraising events in May.”

Among the more than 20 Republican candidates for state and local office who filed finance reports this week in the heavily Democratic county, most raised and spent less than $1,000. There were a few exceptions, such as District 16 House of Delegates candidate Rose Maria Li. A former National Institutes of Health official, Li is seeking to position herself as a moderate Republican as she hopes to capitalize on an increasing number of voters registered as independents.

Li reported raising nearly $16,400, with $4,000 of that a contribution from her consulting firm, Rose Li and Associates. It was supplemented by a $5,000 loan to the campaign from Li herself, with $19,000 left on hand.  One well-known donor to Li’s campaign: retired Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, a Potomac resident, who gave $1,000.

Hill, who has both law and medical degrees and is currently associated with Johns Hopkins University Hospital, is one of three candidates for the District 16 Senate seat, along with Lee and education management professional J’aime Drayton. A campaign finance filing for Drayton had not been posted to the state Maryland Board of Elections Web site by Tuesday’s deadline.

Hill, who said he has brought in nearly $9,000 on top of the $50,000 personal loan, hopes to raise $100,000 in outside donations by the primary. He is not anticipating further gifts or loans from personal assets.

He entered the race late after several better known candidates passed on the chance to take on Lee, who has been in the House of Delegates since 2002 and who has been running for the Senate seat since Frosh announced a bid for attorney general a year ago. Hill said he joined the race after pleas urging him to run “sort of reached the tipping point.”

Hill, who noted there are no medical professionals now serving in the Maryland Senate, acknowledged a political hurdle — that many in the primary electorate regard Lee as the incumbent. “I understand it’s an uphill plug,” he said of the race. “But I resist the notion that she’s the incumbent. It’s an open seat.”

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