By ROB BOCK
WASHINGTON (February 7, 2012)—Congressman John Sarbanes, D-Towson, has amassed more than $1 million in cash on hand in the 2012 race for Maryland's 3rd District, giving the three-time incumbent a massive financial lead over his competitors.
According to year-end Federal Election Commission reports filed last week, Sarbanes received $911,173 from donors in 2011, in comparison to the $908,856 total he received during the entire 2010 campaign.
Combined with the money left over from that election cycle, Sarbanes has $1,062,933 on hand.
"My campaign has been focused on securing the resources to effectively communicate with voters, particularly new residents of the Third Congressional District," Sarbanes said in an email. "I am also excited that we are piloting a model of grassroots financing for campaigns to counter special interest influence in Washington."
Sarbanes' fundraising lead is overwhelming, but that's to be expected, said Tony Campbell, a political science professor at Towson University.
"Incumbency has its privileges," said Campbell, who cited Sarbanes' previous successful runs, his recognizable family name and Maryland's preference for Democrats as advantages Sarbanes has over his competitors. "He should be able to make three times what any of his opponents make."
Sarbanes' father, Paul, was elected to represent the 3rd District twice before becoming a United States Senator from 1976 to 2006.
Sarbanes' lone challenger in the Democratic primary, Dave Lockwood, said he has not collected the $5,000 needed to trigger an FEC campaign spending report.
Lockwood, a management consultant from Silver Spring, said that with enough media attention, his campaign will take off and voters will see the strength behind his positions.
"He's got a name, I got a message," Lockwood said. "And that's fiscal responsibility."
Lawyers and law firms were among Sarbanes' most reliable donors, contributing a total of $139,849. Among them, attorneys and employees with Venable, LLP, Sarbanes' former employer, stood out, donating $38,854.
Venable employees were Sarbanes' biggest contributor in the 2008 election cycle, as well.
A significant number of donors also have Greek surnames. Sarbanes, like his father, is a practicing member of the Greek Orthodox faith, and has been a patron of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore since childhood.
Additionally, Sarbanes has served for more than 20 years as a board member of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, a nonprofit organization which seeks to promote understanding between members of different faiths.
Educators also have been Sarbanes' strong supporters, according to his reports. Sarbanes has backed increased higher education opportunities, and authored a public service loan forgiveness option in 2007.
Sarbanes received $48,950 from those involved in the education field in 2011, and his second-highest overall contributor was Johns Hopkins University, whose employees donated $16,750.
With less than two months to go before the Republican primary, none of the Republican candidates have raised or spent more than the $5,000 minimum required to trigger a filing with the FEC.
Thomas E. "Pinkston" Harris, Armand Girard, Eric Delano Knowles, and Draper Phelps are also running for the Republican nomination, though none have submitted campaign spending reports with the FEC at this time.
Harris did not respond to telephone calls or e-mails, but in the previous two election cycles, Harris did not raise or spend more than $5,000 on his campaigns.
Knowles, who describes himself on his website as a bartender and veteran, ran for Maryland governor in 2010. He said he plans to raise more than $5,000 and win the Republican nomination based on the merits of his ideas.
Draper Phelps, a 2008 Carroll County School Board candidate from Annapolis, said he does not plan to raise more than $5,000.
Nor does Armand Girard, a retired teacher and Army veteran from Baltimore. However, Girard, who last ran for Congress in 2004, said he will increase his efforts to raise money if he wins the Republican primary.
Sarbanes won all three of his general election congressional campaigns with over 60 percent of the vote, with the highest being 2008's victory, 69.6 percent to Harris' 30 percent.
A Republican has not won the 3rd District race since John Boynton Philip Clayton Hill lost his seat in 1927.