Just a little under two months since filing her intent to run for office, Montgomery County Council member and Democrat-turned-independent candidate for County Executive Nancy Floreen has raised $342,040, according to campaign finance reports.
A little over half the money Floreen has raised, $180,855, was spent on consulting fees, largely to help her in collecting the 7,255 signatures she needed to qualify to be on the November ballot. Last week, the Montgomery County Board of Elections certified that Floreen had more than enough signatures to get her name on the ballot.
Many of Floreen’s donations come in the form of $6,000 checks from developers and law firms – the maximum donation under Maryland law.
While critics have said that Floreen’s campaign is being influenced by developers, Floreen insists that her contributions are no different than the support her opponent, Democratic nominee and fellow County Council member Marc Elrich, has received from unions.
“What this all revealed is the depth and breadth of the interest that the community has, of course, of having another choice on the ballot,” Floreen said. “And of course, having a choice for the County future that is sensible, pragmatic and realistic.”
Among the three candidates running for the County Executive’s office, Floreen is the only one to not participate in the newly-created, publicly-financed campaign system, because, given her late entrance in the race, she missed the deadline to apply.
While Elrich cannot accept money from unions or political action committees, as he is participating in the public campaign-financing system, both Elrich’s opponents – Floreen and Republican Robin Ficker – argue that the unions and PACs that are endorsing Elrich are helping his campaign, but perhaps not through direct monetary donations.
While Floreen said she thinks the unions’ support of Elrich and participation in the race is fair game, Ficker has cried foul, saying the union’s support of Elrich violates the spirit of the County’s campaign-finance law, which sought to reduce the influence of companies and unions on campaigns.
“Everyone has a right to participate…I’m not criticizing the unions for making Marc their person,” Floreen said.
For his part, Ficker has raised $234,200, most of which has come in the form of public funds through the public campaign finance system – which is the most cash on hand of any candidate.
Ficker criticized Floreen’s petition drive, saying he had to spend only a few thousand dollars in his petition drive to get his name on the ballot when he ran as an independent candidate for County Executive in 2006.
“How you finance your campaign and how you run your campaign reveals what type of County Executive you’re going to be, Ficker said.
Elrich has raised the most money so far, but had a head start over Floreen, who only recently joined the race. According to the last financial disclosure, Elrich had raised $787,586 and has a cash balance of $102,932.
Elrich could not be reached for comment by publication time of this story.