Cecil Co Exec Race: Top GOP Contenders Each Raised $20K, Business PAC did Same; Records Show $60K+ Race
The campaign for the Republican nomination for Cecil County Executive drew a total of over $60,000 in contributions and fundraiser ticket purchases for the leading contenders and a business political action committee active in the campaign, according to state Board of Elections records. The latest reports were filed on 8/30/16, covering shortly before the April 26 primary election through mid-August.
Going into the November general election, County Council vice president Alan McCarthy, the winner of the Republican primary for County Executive, has a remaining campaign warchest of $11,654. His opponent, Democrat Wayne Tome of Port Deposit, was unopposed in his party primary and had minimal campaign finance activity this year. But Tome recently held a campaign fundraiser in Port and is expected to take a more active role on the campaign trail in the next two months. Tome had a $1,707 carry-over balance from 2014 in his campaign fund from previous elections but has filed affadavits stating he has not yet raised or spent over $1,000 in his new campaign for county executive.
In the contested Republican primary for County Executive, McCarthy was the top vote getter, with 4,448 votes or 39.4 percent of the total votes cast in the four-candidate primary. Coming in second was County Council member Dan Schneckenburger, with 2,945 votes or 26.1 percent of the vote. In third place was “outsider” candidate Joe Carabetta, with 2,647 votes or 23.5 percent, and in last place was Greg MacDonald, with 1,238 votes or 11 percent.
Based on a Cecil Times review of all campaign finance reports covering the 2016 election cycle, including new donations in 2015, McCarthy raised about the same amount in total contributions– $20,320—as Schneckenburger, with $19,890 in direct contributions and fundraiser ticket purchases for his campaign. But McCarthy didn’t spend it all and left a comfortable $11,654 cushion for his general election campaign. Schneckenburger spent most of his contributions on what became a heated county exec primary race, leaving a small cushion of $3,207 left over in his bank account for a future campaign. Schneckenburger’s County Council seat is up for re-election in 2018 and he could run for re-election or seek another office, such as a state Delegate seat.
The also-rans in the GOP primary racked up relatively small donation tallies. Carabetta raised $3,679 in donations and fundraiser ticket buys while MacDonald compiled $5,595 overall.
Another key player in the GOP primary for County Executive this year was the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government (CBL) Political Action Committee (PAC). CBL endorsed McCarthy for County Executive and spent donated funds on advertising and a direct mail flyer supporting his candidacy. CBL did not endorse any candidates in the GOP primary for two County Council seats. (There were no Democratic candidates for County Council, so the winners of the GOP primary in Districts 5 and 1 will be unopposed in the November general election. )
State elections records show that CBL raised a total of $20,956 during the 2016 election cycle, according to a review of multiple state campaign finance reports. At the end of the primary election cycle, CBL had just $404 left in its bank account. Mario Gangemi, vice chair of the group, told Cecil Times that a classic car show to be held Thursday night would help replenish the PAC’s campaign coffers and other fundraising efforts were planned.
Just before the April primary, Schneckenburger took a negative turn in the campaign, with several flyers, social media posts and a robocall attacking McCarthy in personal terms and with a Donald Trump-like attack on illegal immigrants—despite the fact that immigrants, legal or illegal, are a miniscule segment of the county’s population. [SEE CECIL TIMES Special Report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2016/04/schneckenburger-vows-to-kill-county-contracts-grants-to-hire-aid-illegal-immigrants-hits-political-stick-at-problem-stats-show-is-minimal-here-advisor-has-political-baggage/] Campaign finance reports show that Schneckenburger paid a campaign consultant, Erik Robey, $1,209 for costs of a robocall. McCarthy’s campaign responded to the attack with robocalls of its own, costing a total of $970.
In terms of contributions, most of McCarthy’s donations throughout the 2016 election cycle came from local Cecil County residents and businesses, while Schneckenburger consistently drew many donations from out of county and out of state interests. In the most recent campaign finance filings, however, McCarthy drew contributions from several out-of-county Maryland business entities, apparently linked to a partner in the long-stalled Bainbridge re-development site outside Port Deposit. The abandoned US Navy training facility has been vacant and crumbling for decades, faced with environmental pollution issues and a remote site not served by public utilities needed for re-development.
In the most recent campaign filings, three business interests apparently tied—via the same business address and similar namings—to a partner in the multi-faceted Bainbridge re-development group provided donations to McCarthy. On McCarthy’s most recent finance report, he received a total of $2,500 in donations from three business entities with the same Lanham, MD address and apparently linked to the NAI Michael Company group that is one of several partners in the proposed Bainbridge re-development project.
McCarthy told Cecil Times he never asked for a donation from people associated with the NAI Michael group, and was unaware of the donations since he does not personally review contributions to his campaign that are submitted through his campaign treasurer. However, he said he wants to see the Bainbridge site re-developed, through the multiple private partners involved in the project so as to bring the long dormant site into a productive, job-creating revitalization effort.
Schneckenburger received a donation of $1,000 from a Lanham, MD agri-business with the same address listed on his finance reports as the NAI Michael-related entities.
In addition, Schneckenburger received one of his largest-ever donations from a business seeking to develop a new warehouse facility on the site of the former Nazarene religious retreat camp in North East. Schneckenurger received a $3,000 donation from the North East Commons LLC group, which formerly included the Clark Turner development company until that entity filed for bankruptcy last year. Now, a Towson, MD-based partner in the venture has taken over the project, which has zoning matters pending before the town of North East, and the development group provided its substantial donation to Schneckenburger on 4/11/16, according to state records.
(Cecil Times phoned Schneckenburger for comment on his campaign finances and future election plans but did not yet receive a response. This report will be updated upon his response.)