Gubernatorial candidate Blaine R. Young (R) said he raised nearly half of his goal at his first fundraiser two weeks ago and, if he doesn’t raise the rest, is dropping his bid for governor at the end of the year.
Young, president of Fredericks’ Board of County Commissioners, wants at least $300,000 in the bank by Dec. 31, he said.
To convince donors at Holly Hills Country Club on June 5 to give to his campaign, he said he had to first persuade them he can win the Republican nomination. His goal for the evening, with between 120 and 140 guests, was $150,000. He raised $147,000. He plans a second fundraiser tonight in Bethesda.
“The challenge is making people feel their investment is worth it and that I actually have a shot at the Republican nomination,” he said.
The field is picking up, with new hopefuls popping up in the past few months. But if former lieutenant governor Michael Steele decides to run, “it’s a game changer,” Young said.
“The average voter knows his name and he has star power. He could possibly raise $1 million in his first fundraiser,” Young said.
According to the state’s campaign finance records for this election cycle, Steele has listed no contributions so far, and has not yet indicated he will run for governor.
Big spending defined the 2010 general gubernatorial race: Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) spent $14 million, and opponent and former governor Robert Ehrlich Jr. spent $8 million.
Aside from Steele, Young views Harford County executive David Craig as his biggest competitor.
Craig, who has been a city councilman and mayor of Havre de Grace, served in both chambers of the General Assembly before his election as county executive in 2006. Last year, the retired school administrator gave campaign training seminars across the state, a move many pundits think was the foundation for the 2014 gubernatorial race. Since 2011, he’s raised $157,539, most of it from businesses. Craig has spent $110,000, including $11,000 on fundraising activities, and nearly $10,000 on Republican candidates.
Larry Hogan of Annapolis formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee in 2010, but does not have one yet for 2014, although he still is considering it, according to various news reports. The real estate developer who once served as appointments secretary for Ehrlich, raised $42,000, but spent $80,000, according to campaign finance records.
Marty Madden, a former state senator who also worked for the Ehrlich administration, formed an exploratory committee last month. The insurance agent from Howard County, who plans to use public financing in the race, donated $5,000 to his campaign.
“Money is not an overriding factor, but is an important factor,” Young said. “People’s attention span is lower these days, so you have to get your name out there.”