By Shifra Dayak, Capital News Service
Maryland Del. Joe Vogel, D-Montgomery, has raised and spent the most money out of all candidates vying to represent the state’s 6th District in the House.
Vogel has raised $252,813, putting him above his fellow Democrats — and also above all Republicans running for the seat. Currently representing District 17 in the Maryland House of Delegates, Vogel has not officially filed for candidacy, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website, but announced his congressional campaign in May.
Navy veteran and political newcomer Tom Royals leads Republicans in funds raised, with $160,383.
The district is rated as a “likely Democratic” seat by Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s nonpartisan Center for Politics.
Since announcing his campaign in July, Royals has adopted hard-right talking points, campaigning for parental rights and against children being “indoctrinated.” Royals officially filed for candidacy with the state election board last month.
Slightly under a year from the 2024 general election, the candidates are part of a field where four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent have officially filed to run for the 6th District seat. Democratic incumbent Rep. David Trone is running for the Senate in a crowded race to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland.
Of 582 itemized donations to Vogel’s campaign, only 6.8% are from donors in Maryland, according to records on file with the Federal Election Commission. Almost half of Vogel’s donations are from small-dollar donors who donate via ActBlue, a Massachusetts-based online fundraising platform used by almost every Democratic candidate.
If elected, 26-year-old Vogel would become one of the first Generation Z individuals in Congress.
“He’s doing sort of the nitty gritty but necessary work of going everywhere, talking to everybody and doing what it takes to fundraise,” Vogel’s campaign manager, Oren Adam, told Capital News Service.
Adam added that Vogel’s campaign has prioritized meeting voters where they are to build a “robust fundraising operation” with a “broad, multi-generational approach.”
Republican Royals has garnered more support from in-state donors than Vogel, with about 46% of money raised coming from Maryland contributors, according to FEC records.
Royals also has seen some financial support from PACs — namely WinRed, ActBlue’s Republican counterpart. But only 8% of Royals’s contributions come from WinRed.
Americans and Maryland families are “increasingly rallying behind Tom’s campaign,” Royals’s campaign manager Brendan Duffy said in an e-mail to CNS.
“After raising nearly double the rest of the GOP field combined last quarter… Royals is clearly the only Republican candidate who can raise the resources and inspire the base of grassroots support required to win this critical race that may determine which party controls the U.S. House next fall,” Duffy said.
Besides Vogel, Democratic candidates include Army veteran Geoffrey Grammer, environmentalist and political newcomer George Gluck, former gubernatorial candidate Ashwani Jain and businessman Stephen R. McDow.
Like Vogel, several other Democrats have announced campaigns and begun raising money but have not formally filed with the state elections board: Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, state Del. Lesley Lopez, State Department employee Joel Rubin, Montgomery County Council Member Laurie-Anne Sayles, former federal government employee Destiny Drake West and former Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary April McLain Delaney, wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who held the 6th District seat from 2013 to 2019.
In addition to Royals, Republicans who have filed include Army veteran Chris Hyser, former Senate candidate Todd A. Puglisi and Air Force veteran Mariela Roca.
Repeat 6th District candidate and former Del. Neil Parrott, former Del. Brenda Thiam, Woodsboro Mayor Heath Barnes and former gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox have announced campaigns for the GOP nomination but have not formally filed.
Independent Jason Johnson will be on the ballot for the 6th District seat only for the November 2024 general election because independents cannot run in Maryland's closed primaries.
The deadline to file for candidacy for Democrats and Republicans is Feb. 9, 2024. Independents must file by July 1, 2024.
Among the field of Democratic candidates for the 6th District, Grammer is closest to Vogel in fundraising, with $238,982. But less than $20,000 of Grammer’s contributions are from individuals. Almost $220,000 of his total funding comes from loans.
Grammer is the only Democrat whose fundraising includes loans.
But two Republicans — Hyser and Thiam — have both raised over $10,000 through loans.
Of those vying for the seat so far, three candidates have previously sought to represent the 6th District.
Roca ran in and lost the 2022 Republican primary. Gluck ran independently in 2020 and earned less than 2% of the vote, and then ran in and lost the Democratic primary in 2022.
Parrott was the Republican nominee for the seat in 2020 and 2022, but lost to Trone in solidly-blue Maryland during both elections.
The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported in 2022 that Parrott received more individual contributions from donors, but Trone — whose campaign was self-funded — outspent him.
This year, Parrott represents a spending anomaly as the only candidate who has spent more money than he has raised. Contributions to Parrott’s campaign totaled $33,242, putting him in fourth place among Republicans for fundraising, but the candidate has spent $57,084.
Parrott did not respond to a CNS request for comment.
But Parrott’s spending is only slightly more than half of Vogel’s, who also leads the field of candidates in spending, with $93,374 in disbursements so far.
Grammer has spent the second-most among Democratic candidates at $83,988.
Roca leads Republicans in spending — despite not having raised the most money — and Royals ranks second. Roca has spent $85,889 and Royals has spent $57,846.