MD 1st: Kratovil Outraises Harris in Sept.–But Even in Cash on Hand

October 16, 2010

By Lou Peck
Contributing Editor, Cecil Times and CongressDaily

Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil outraised his Republican challenger, state Sen. Andy Harris, in September but the two candidates entered the homestretch of the campaign fairly evenly matched in cash on hand, according to the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

During the latest reporting period, which covered Aug. 26 through Sept. 30, Kratovil reported receipts of just over $378,000, in comparison with nearly $336,000 for Harris, giving Kratovil an advantage of $42,000.

However, for the period covering July and much of August, Harris outraised Kratovil by about $38,000, putting them virtually even for the third quarter of 2010. In that time frame, each candidate raised a total of just over $500,000.

The latest haul means that Kratovil has raised nearly $2.3 million in the course of the entire campaign, compared to almost $2 million for Harris.

The rematch of the 2008 contest in Maryland’s 1st District — in which Kratovil defeated Harris by fewer than 3.000 votes – is considered one of the most competitive congressional races in the country this year. A recent independent poll showed Harris ahead by 43 to 40 percent. But that was within the poll’s 4.9-point error margin, making the contest a statistical dead heat.

The two candidates were also fairly evenly matched in terms of money in the bank as of Sept. 30. Kratovil reported $866,000 in his campaign treasury, to just under $820,000 for Harris. While that’s an edge of $46,000 for Kratovil, it’s down from the nearly $400,000 advantage that Kratovil had in cash on hand at the end of August.

The latter statistic reflects Kratovil outspending Harris during September by nearly $400,000: Kratovil reported expenditures of almost $858,000 during that month, while Harris spent just over $460,000.

This disparity was due to spending by each campaign for broadcast and cable TV advertising. Kratovil spent $772,000 in this category during September, as compared to just $350,000 for Harris.

As of Sept. 30, with just a little over a month to go in the campaign, the Harris and Kratovil campaigns had reported total expenditures of nearly $2.8 million. And that figure doesn’t begin to reflect the amount of money being poured into the race by the House campaign committees of both major parties, along with outside interest groups.

Based on a compilation of recent FEC filings, the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group – a Washington-based non-partisan organization – reports that, as of late last week, more than $2 million had been spent on the race by entities other than Harris and Kratovil campaign committees.

The majority of this – nearly $1.3 million – has come from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to FEC filings.

The NRCC put another $357,000 into the contest late last week, bringing to a total of $472,000 the amount spent to boost Harris.

But the DCCC so far has spent almost twice as much as its counterpart — $811,000 – to bolster Kratovil and attack Harris. The level of DCCC spending in this race, far greater than originally anticipated, reflects increasing confidence by party strategists that Kratovil – once considered among the year’s most vulnerable House incumbents – can hold on to the seat.

Kratovil has also received a nearly $170,000 boost from advertising paid for by the US Chamber of Commerce, part of a reported $2 million buy nationwide by the business group to favor conservative Democrats.

For his part, Harris – an anesthesiologist – has benefited from about $212,000 in advertising from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. In addition, a substantial percentage of individual contributions to Harris’ own campaign committee has come from fellow anesthesiologists outside of Maryland.

For the latest reporting period, about 60 percent of the money raised by Kratovil’s re-election committee came from individual donations, with most of the rest provided by political action committees (PACs) created by interest groups; Harris got about 80 percent of his donation from individuals, with the rest from PACs.

Kratovil received several donations from Cecil County residents during September. Norman Wilson, the attorney for the Cecil County Board of Commissioners, gave $75, bringing to $325 his total contributions to the Kratovil campaign, while former Cecil College President Robert Gell gave $150, for a total of $850 so far.

Other Kratovil donors: Elkton businessman Robert Archibald, $200 ($400 total); Carleton and Avis Brown, Perryville, $75 ($270 total); and Sue Fuhrmann, Elkton, $35 ($325 total).

Harris received $400 from Mark Mortensen of North East, the managing director of General Resonance, a Harford County-based scientific firm. To date, Mortensen has given Harris $2,400 – the maximum amount allowed per election under federal law.

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