As today's deadline arrived for U.S. Senate candidates to file campaign finance reports, the numbers showed that Rep. Ben Cardin has not only raised more than any of his Democratic rivals, he had more cash on hand at the end of the year. He also bests Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, though the Republican hopeful raised slightly more in the final quarter of the year.
Aides to Cardin said the Baltimore-area lawmaker's campaign finance report would show he had raised more than $2.8 million during the year and finished the year with more than $2.1 million on hand.
Those figures dwarf the totals of those of Cardin's best-known Democratic rival, former NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume, whom aides said raised $421,000 during the year and finished with a little more than $125,000 on hand. Two other Democratic candidates, Josh Rales and Allan Lichtman, show more than twice as much money in their accounts.
Aides to Mfume tried to play down the difference, suggesting the former congressman from Baltimore will not need as much money, because he is widely known and has a loyal following.
"It's a comfortable position for us to be in right now," said Lindsay Lewis, one of two newly hired veteran operatives working for Mfume. Lewis added that Mfume has numerous "major" fundraising events scheduled in coming weeks.
Mfume's available cash is lower than some of his other Democratic rivals, who entered the race far more recently and whose totals were bolstered by personal money.
Cardin's totals for the year also exceeded those of Steele, who aides said reported raising nearly $1.3 million and finishing the year with $786,604 on hand. During the final three months of the year, however, Steele out-raised Cardin, $853,350 to $778,537, according to figures provided by aides.
Cardin aides said their candidate is the only one who had demonstrated the ability to compete with a well-funded Republican. during a campaign that will require heavy spending on television.
"The recipe for winning a modern Senate campaign in Maryland is pretty simple," said Cardin spokesman Oren Shur. "You need an effective leader with strong Democratic principles who also has the ability to mount a well-funded and well-organized campaign."
The campaigns of other Democrats running for Senate said they would report the following totals:
--Josh Rales, a businessman from Montgomery County: $602,141 raised, including $145,475 of his own money; $342, 857 on hand.
--Allan Lichtman, an American University professor from Montgomery: $338,442 raised, including $250,000 of his own money; $322,806 on hand. (Corrected from earlier posting)
--Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist from Montgomery: $366,312 raised, including about $90,000 of her own money; $155,093 on hand.
Totals were not available yesterday for Dennis Rasmussen, a former Baltimore County executive, who only recently entered the race, and for A. Robert Kaufman, a Baltimore community activist.
John Wagner and Ann E. Marimow
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