The Washington Times Online Edition
Select a category: 

Voters vs. cash: Races could be turned by out-of-state money

Ad surges give warped reflection of true support


Maryland state Sen. Nancy Jacobs (Associated Press)

Judging by the fundraising, one might think Republican Nancy Jacobs has no chance in her bid for a House seat representing parts of Anne Arundel County. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a five-term Democrat, raised three times as much cash last quarter, giving the impression of broad support that will let him blanket the district with advertising.

A closer look at his list of financial supporters shows it’s missing one thing, though: people who can actually vote for him.

Only 15 percent of Mr. Ruppersberger’s $157,000 haul came from Maryland. State residents, in fact, gave Mrs. Jacobs twice as much cash as they did the incumbent.

The bulk of Mr. Ruppersberger’s money, instead, came from Washington-based unions and from defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp. Until earlier this summer, Mr. Ruppersberger sat on the House Armed Services Committee.

“I think it’s pretty clear that my supporters are local Marylanders who believe in me, not lobbyists and PACs from other parts of the country,” Mrs. Jacobs said.

The disparity between in-state and out-of-state contributions on display in the Maryland congressional race is playing out in other races across the country this year, as well.

A Washington Times analysis of newly released Federal Election Commission records found 70 House races and two Senate races where one candidate raised the most money from within the state, but the opponent raised the most overall thanks to out-of-state donations.

Local races, national money

Most often, it was Democrats who led in the total dollar chase, but were outdone by their Republican opponents when it came to in-state money.

An incumbent often was relying on money tied to interests of the candidate’s congressional committees.

There were also instances in which national groups such as ActBlue or Club for Growth had swooped in to local races to try to knock out an incumbent for ideological reasons.

The stark disparity between Mr. Ruppersberger and Mrs. Jacobs took place in the second quarter, after the lesser-known Mrs. Jacobs’ bid gained steam. In this case, PACs were primarily responsible for giving Mr. Ruppersberger his edge.

Mr. Ruppersberger’s campaign noted that his percentage of Maryland money was higher earlier in the year and that Washington-based PACs don’t always represent purely outside interests.

“Some PAC contributors are headquartered out-of-state but have strong Maryland ties — businesses with Maryland facilities and Maryland employees, or trade associations with Maryland members,” spokeswoman Jaime Lennon said in an email.

In Michigan, Republican Glenn Anderson raised four times as much as the Democratic incumbent, Rep. John Conyers Jr., from state residents last quarter, even though Mr. Conyers has represented the district since 1965. Yet Mr. Conyers, who also has withstood a series of ethical controversies, raised twice as much cash overall.

No totals reflect contributions less than $200 because their sources are not disclosed.

Incumbency not always key

As often as incumbents use out-of-state money to beat back challengers, the tables occasionally have turned the other way, including in the Washington region.

Near Frederick, Md., the talk has been that Democrat John Delaney is poised to knock out Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, turning a long-red seat blue. Indeed, Mr. Delaney outraised his opponent by 50 percent in itemized contributions last quarter.

But Maryland donors aren’t as blue as they might seem: Mr. Bartlett has outraised Mr. Delaney by half in home-state money.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story
About the Author
Luke Rosiak

Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at

blog comments powered by Disqus
All site contents © Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC
Jobs | About | Customer Service | Terms | Privacy