Blair injects another $1.85 million in personal funds into county executive’s bid

County Executive candidates Marc Elrich, David Blair and Hans Riemer

Businessman David Blair has loaned his campaign an additional $1.85 million in recent weeks, bringing the amount Blair has put his hand in his pocket to secure his campaign to a total of $4.8 million. second attempt in four years to win the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County executive.

In a period that spanned just under four weeks from June 8 to July 3, the Blair campaign spent more than $1.87 million, according to campaign finance disclosure reports filed Friday with the State Board of Elections. More than $1 million was spent on the television ad blitz that Blair mounted on Washington, D.C. market broadcast stations as well as county cable television systems.

This latest installment brought Blair’s total overall spending in the 2022 campaign to nearly $5.07 million as he was due to go through to the July 19 primary – putting him on track to tie or surpass the $5.7 million he spent in 2018, when he lost the Democratic primary. to current County Executive Marc Elrich by just 77 votes.

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The $5.7 million in 2018 — $5.4 million of which came from Blair’s personal assets — set a new spending record for a county leadership race, surpassing the previous record of $2.7 million. dollars spent by then-county council member Steve Silverman in a bid for the Democratic nod in 2006.

Blair far outpaces his two main Democratic rivals – Elrich and County Councilman Hans Riemer, who use the county’s public campaign finance system adopted before the 2018 election.

By early July, Riemer had spent a total of $640,000 on his campaign, with the vast majority of that $389,000 coming from early June; Elrich’s total spending in 2022 as of July 3 was just under $607,000, more than two-thirds of that, $410,000, in recent weeks.

Their recent increase in spending came as Elrich and Riemer launched pay-TV efforts, joining Blair – who began airing pay-TV spots in mid-May.

Through small private donations and government matching funds, Elrich and Riemer have each raised about a fifth of the amount Blair has spent so far, according to their latest filings.

Riemer qualified and received the maximum $750,000 in matching public funds that county executive candidates are allowed under the county’s public campaign finance law. To be eligible for public matching funds, a candidate must limit individual private donations to $250 per person and cannot accept contributions from businesses or political action committees.

Between nearly $305,000 raised in private donations and the $750,000 public match, Riemer’s campaign has brought in just over $1.05 million as the mainline campaign enters the home stretch.

Elrich has so far raised about $250,000 in private contributions, matched by just under $698,000 in public funds. Under the public campaign finance system, private donations under $150 can be matched at variable rates of up to $6 in public funding for every private dollar received.

In his latest report, Elrich said he was eligible for an additional $52,000 in matching funds, which would bring him up to the maximum public match of $750,000. If successful, Elrich would have raised a total of approximately $1 million in private and public campaign finance.

While the $4.8 million in personal assets Blair has invested in his campaign are technically loans, candidates who lend money to their own campaigns are rarely repaid — those funds are usually reclassified as contributions. at one point. So far, Blair is self-funding more than 90% of the cost of his campaign, supplemented by about $400,000 in contributions from outside donors.
Friday’s filing with the State Board of Elections was the last campaigns had to make before the July 19 primary, meaning overall amounts and spending details for the remaining two weeks of the primary season will not be known. . until several weeks after Primary day.

In his latest filing, Blair reported $1.33 million in media advertising spend in the previous month. Combined with previous spending in this category, that brings his campaign’s total ad spend to over $2.3 million so far.
Two-thirds of that total – $1.55m, including $1m of the latter amount in June – was spent as Blair went on the attack – saturating the airwaves with ads highlighting his recent endorsement in a Washington Post op-ed that also strongly criticized Elrich’s first term as executive.

Prior to June, Elrich had reported little — less than $6,500 — spent on media advertising. But its latest report lists nearly $350,000 spent in this category, including at least $315,000 spent on TV ads.

Riemer’s latest report shows nearly $375,000 was spent on paid media. Most of the latest round of spending – about $347,000 – was spent on TV ads in which Riemer attacks aspects of Elrich’s tenure while harassing his other adversary as “wealthy Blair , trying to buy it”.

In addition to television and online media spending, the Blair campaign has spent more than $550,000 to date — $292,000 coming in June — on direct mail, which has filled the mailboxes of large Democratic voters. glossy brochures. The Blair campaign has received backlash on social media for a recent post titled “Montgomery County Democratic Primary Voter’s Guide 2022” – the flip side of which turns out to be giving Blair positive and Elrich negative ratings. on several issues, while again promoting Blair’s post endorsement.

Neither Elrich nor Riemer are spending significant funds on direct mail efforts, according to their filings — though the Elrich campaign brought in nearly $50,000 in postage in June in conjunction with sending campaign materials.
For the third time since announcing his candidacy in late March, the other contender in the Democratic leadership race, tech entrepreneur Peter James, has filed an affidavit with the State Board of Elections stating that he plans to not not collect and spend more than $1,000.

One of the two candidates for the Republican nomination, Friendship Heights attorney Shelly Skolnick, also filed such an affidavit. The other candidate, Montgomery County Republican Committee Chairman Reardon Sullivan, raised about $5,300 in June, in addition to nearly $23,000 previously raised since his announcement in April, his biggest expense — about $10. $500 – going to online advertising.
The Republican primary winner will face a tough challenge in November in a county that’s about 4-1 Democrat.

Louis Peck, editor of Bethesda Magazine, can be reached at: [email protected]

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