By ANJU KAUR, Capital News Service
WASHINGTON - Maryland, long known as a Democratic state, has given a record amount, more than $2 million, to Republican presidential candidates this year.
Although that's less than half the money that Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama raised in the state, about $5.4 million as of the third-quarter reports, it's more than five times the $405,777 given during the same period in the 2000 election, the last time the party had an open seat.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tops the list, receiving $722,250 from Maryland residents this year through September, according to Federal Election Commission records.
That's more than four times what the top candidate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, raised during the same time in the 2000 election.
"The increase in contributions is because we have an open election for the first time in decades," said Shawn Parry-Giles, professor of communications at the University of Maryland in College Park. There is no sitting president and the vice president is not running.
And the earlier primaries are also playing a significant role, she added.
With many states moving their caucus or primary earlier, candidates are driven to look everywhere for contributions, including states like Maryland where the potential for raising money is more significant than winning the small number of its delegates.
Giuliani is campaigning broadly across the country, including heavily Democratic states, Parry-Giles said. They all have to do that to stay in the campaign, which will cost a record amount.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney followed Giuliani among Marylanders, raising $634,485. And Arizona Sen. John McCain was next with $433,494.
"The Republican base is energized in Maryland," said Steve Raabe, president of the polling firm OpinionWorks. "There is a lot of money to be had here. This is a truly open election. And the need for money is very high. (A) tremendous amount of attention will be given to the winners of the (Jan. 3) Iowa caucuses and the (subsequent) New Hampshire primary. The bulk of the delegates will be decided within a few weeks (afterward)."
By comparison, Democratic candidates received a record $6.5 million from residents.
"Let's face it, Democrats are not paying much attention to Maryland either," said John Flynn, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. "They're just coming for money, especially to Montgomery County."
They are getting help from party leaders in the state, he added. Gov. Martin O'Malley is helping Clinton raise money here.
But Republican leaders in the state, although fewer in number, are doing the same for their presidential picks. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, for example, is actively campaigning for Giuliani, Flynn said.
According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, of the 3.1 million people registered to vote by the end of October, 883,665 were Republicans.