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Harris, Kratovil Staged Spending Blitz in Campaign's Final Weeks

Capital News Service
Friday, Dec. 3, 2010


WASHINGTON - The candidates spent almost $2.5 million in the last month of the hotly contested congressional race in which state Sen. Andy Harris unseated freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed Thursday.


The candidates in Congressional District 1 spent more than $4.9 million total in the contest, a rematch of the 2008 election in which Kratovil bested Harris by a margin so small the race took a week to decide.


When the two met in 2008, Kratovil, D-Stevensville, spent $2.3 million and Harris $1.8 million.


This time around, Kratovil's spending totaled $2.6 million and Harris $2.3 million -- $800,000 more than their last match.


Advertising was by far the campaign's largest line item -- over the past two years, Kratovil spent $1.9 million on advertising, including $515,000 in air time purchased on Oct. 7.


Harris spent $1.4 million on ads, including $675,000 in the final three weeks of the campaign.


And much more television time was paid for by outside groups: according to the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, almost $4 million came into the race via outside spending. The American Society of Anesthesiologists dumped $212,000 into the race for TV and radio ads for Harris, for example, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put up $1.5 million against him.


Kratovil spokesman Kevin Lawlor said the district received so much attention and cash because of close polling that was attractive to both parties.


"Maryland 1 had been near the top of that list since day one," Lawlor said.


Kratovil collected $2.66 million in contributions, with $1.2 million from political action committees.


He also received $62,000 in direct contributions from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of the Democratic Party led by Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington.


Van Hollen's personal campaign committee also donated $4,000. Kratovil received a total of $89,500 from Democratic candidates attempting to shore up his campaign, including $4,000 from outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.


Donations also came into the First District from across the nation: While Kratovil received the majority of his contributions from Maryland and the District of Columbia, Harris received donations from as far away as Washington state and Puerto Rico.


Harris got $150,000 from Texas, for example, and $95,000 from Florida. In total, Harris received $922,000 in individual donations from Maryland; he received just over $1 million from elsewhere in the country.


The influx of out-of-state money isn't unusual, said Peter Brusoe, a research analyst with the Campaign Finance Institute: "Even with state and local elections we see a lot of that coming in."


Copyright 2010 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. All rights reserved.

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Banner graphic by Newsline's Ben Giles.