Blair Continues To Significantly Outspend Rivals in County Executive Race

Blair Continues To Significantly Outspend Rivals in County Executive Race

Businessman has spent more on his campaign than the combined spending of other five Democrats

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Democratic Montgomery County executive candidates from top left, Roger Berliner, David Blair, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Bill Frick and Rose Krasnow

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Former healthcare executive David Blair is spending big on his campaign for Montgomery County executive.

Since launching his Democratic campaign for the county’s top political office in October, Blair has spent $3.018 million, nearly $1 million more than the combined spending of his five Democratic opponents.

The other Democratic candidates—County Council members Roger Berliner, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich as well as state Del. Bill Frick and former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow—have spent a combined $2.1 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed Friday with the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Blair has been financing his campaign with $2.9 million in personal loans and contributions. In the past month, he loaned his campaign another $1 million on top of the $1.9 million in loans and contributions he previously provided. Blair has a net worth of at least $75 million, according to estimates based on financial disclosure reports that the candidates filed with the county.

Chart created by Bethesda Beat using Maryland Board of Elections campaign finance date. Figures as of June 10, 2018.

All six candidates are focused on getting their messages to voters during early voting this week and before the June 26 Democratic primary. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 3 to 1 in Montgomery County so the Democratic primary typically also decides who will win in November’s general election.

Republican Robin Ficker, an attorney, has raised about $47,400 for his campaign and is not facing a primary challenger.

Blair’s spending has dwarfed that of his challengers. As of June 10, Berliner has spent $661,700; Elrich, $512,680; Leventhal, $480,230; Krasnow, $245,210; and Frick, $234,200.

Heading into the final week before the primary, here’s where the candidates stand with cash on hand:

  • Elrich – $257,600;
  • Krasnow – $228,100;
  • Berliner – $211,300;
  • Blair – $171,500;
  • Leventhal – $106,370; and
  • Frick – $87,100.

Besides Blair, only Berliner and Krasnow or their spouses have made significant contributions to their own campaigns. Berliner’s wife donated $6,000 to his campaign, while Krasnow loaned her campaign $5,000 in November.

Sources of campaign cash in county executive race. Chart created by Bethesda Beat. Data as of June 10, 2018. (click to expand)

Berliner has raised the most from outside contributors in the race, according to the campaign finance reports. He has collected about $863,000 in outside contributions. Blair has received the second-most at $284,800 and Frick was third with $276,000. Berliner, Blair and Frick are all using traditional campaign financing that enables them to accept individual contributions up to $6,000 each.

Elrich, Krasnow and Leventhal are participating in the county’s public campaign financing system. The candidates using the system can only accept contributions of $150 or less. Small-dollar contributions from county residents are then matched with multiples of county funds.

Elrich leads the other candidates in the amount of outside contributions he has received—about $163,400 in donations of $150 or less. Leventhal has received $121,000 and Krasnow, $108,100.

Because Elrich has raised more in outside contributions, he has received more in matching funds from the county. As of June 10, his campaign has received $605,670 in public funds. Leventhal has received $465,530 and Krasnow, $359,900.

In their latest filings, all the publicly financed candidates requested additional funds. The requests are reviewed by the State Board of Elections before being disbursed. Elrich requested $15,190; Leventhal, $23,900; and Krasnow, $13,420.

County executive candidates can receive up to $750,000 in public funds per election cycle, but it appears none of the three candidates will reach that maximum level before the primary barring a major influx of small-dollar campaign donations.

According to his filing, Blair spent $1.13 million in the last month—including $410,000 on TV ads; $295,000 on printed campaign materials; $175,000 on social media ads and $171,000 on campaign staff.

Blair spent nearly as much on television ads as Berliner, the second-highest spender during the past month, did on his entire campaign’s operations from May 16 to June 10.

Berliner spent $462,000 during that period and the vast majority, about $390,000, paid for television ads, according to the latest report.

The other candidates are also ramping up their spending in the last month. Leventhal has spent $197,680 since May 16; Erlich, $183,700; Frick, $96,000 and Krasnow, $74,900.

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