The latest batch of Baltimore City campaign finance reports trickled in Wednesday, and provide some insight into this spring’s Democratic mayoral primary. First-term Mayor Brandon Scott is is sitting on $835,000, according to a preliminary report uploaded to Maryland’s campaign finance reporting system. He raised $682,134 in 2023.

The first-term mayor faces former mayor Sheila Dixon. She raised $523,000 in 2023, a healthy jump from her reporting this time last year, which showed she had just $5,000 on hand. She now has about $370,000 on hand — less than half than Scott. Businessman Bob Wallace reported having $230,000. More than $200,000 of that sum comes from a self-loan.

A super PAC supporting Dixon reported raising just over $200,000. David Smith, the executive chairman of the nationwide network of Sinclair television stations who just personally purchased the Baltimore Sun, put $100,000 toward the effort. John Luetkemeyer, Jr., the son of former Treasurer of Maryland John Alexander Luetkemeyer, Sr., also put forward $100,000.

Money isn’t everything, but in campaigns donations translate directly to time, resources, and how many televisions advertisements reach voters.

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The next round of preprimary campaign finance reports are due on April 4 and will encompass mid-January to early April. Another round will be due on May 3.

The primary is May 14. In deep-blue Baltimore, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 10-to-1, winning in the primary is tantamount to winning in November.

Brandon Scott

Scott has $835,000 in cash. He raised $682,134 in 2023 and spent nearly $300,000. The Democrat reported a war chest of $451,000 this time last year.

Individuals who gave the $6,000 maximum include Jason Levien, the co-chairman of the D.C. United soccer team, lobbyist Sean Malone of Harris Jones & Malone, Michael Beatty and Nathalie Beatty of Beatty Development Group, Michael Hess of Hess Construction, Thibault Manekin of Seawall, Teresa Smack of Farmers and Merchants Bank, and Brandon Wylie of Fleurs d’Ave. Mark Sapperstein, the CEO of Walker Development, donated $5,000.

Donations from staffers of MCB Real Estate, the company redeveloping the Inner Harbor, also flowed in. Drew Gorman donated $5,000, Michael Trail donated $4,000, Peter Pinkard donated $5,000, and the company itself donated $6,000. MCB’s plans for the harbor project still requires zoning changes and voter approval.

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Businesses also donated to Scott. The Baltimore Gas and Electric PAC cut him a $3,500 check. Amazon gave Scott $1,000 while American Sugar Refining Inc., parent of Domino Sugar, contributed $2,500.

AFSCME Maryland Council 3 contributed $5,000, while Baltimore City Fire Fighters Local 734 donated $4,500.

Former Councilman Carl Stokes gave him $500. Christopher Mfume, a developer and the son of Congressman Kweisi Mfume, gave him $1,000.

“This strong financial backing from our community is a clear indicator of their faith in Mayor Scott’s direction,” said campaign manager Nicholas Simões Machado. “We are moving away from the failed policies of the past and marching towards a future where every citizen of Baltimore can thrive with Mayor Scott leading the way.”

The mayor spent $44,500 commissioning a poll from Global Strategy Group, cutting a check in mid-July.

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He reimbursed his interim Chief of Staff Marvin James $2,659 in April and $4,491 in March.

The campaign also transferred $2,000 to Councilman James Torrence’s committee in May and $999 to Baltimore County John “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr.’s Congress exploratory committee.

He did not receive any transfers from political allies.

Sheila Dixon

Dixon raised $523,000 in 2023 — a solid figure for a challenger to an incumbent. Her campaign has $370,000 on hand.

Notable donors include Alex and Eric Smith, the brothers who run Atlas Restaurant Group, each of whom donated $6,000 to Dixon. Their company also gave $6,000. So did their father Dr. Frederick Smith, a vice president at Sinclair Inc., which owns and operates WBFF Fox45.

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Members of the Luetkemeyer family also donated the maximum individual contributions. Jean Prema, Annie Luetkemeyer, Mary Luetkemeyer and actress Julie Bowen each donated $6,000. All of the women but Prema live in California; the family has strong Maryland political ties.

She also netted more than $10,000 in campaign transfers from a few fellow politicians: former comptroller Joan Pratt sent her $1,000; former mayor Jack Young sent her $2,000; Councilman Eric Costello sent her $6,000; former Baltimore City Sheriff John W. Anderson sent her $1,500; and Del. Dan Morhaim sent her $250.

Dixon’s expenditures included $43,500 on a poll from Hart Research Associates Inc., run by pollster Fred Yang. The campaign also sent about $47,100 to fundraising firm Rice Consulting.

In a statement, Dixon campaign spokesman Gabriel Ortis said that 321 of more than 600 individual donors were first-time contributors. The average donation was $679.

The Sheila Dixon super PAC

The Better Baltimore PAC was formed by members of the fundraising group firm Adeo Advocacy in August before Dixon had officially declared her candidacy.

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On Wednesday evening, the group reported raising a total of $200,065. Smith and Luetkemeyer contributed the overwhelming majority of the money, while several other donors contributed sums ranging from $2 to $25.

The super PAC paid Lake Research Partners $63,329 for a poll on Nov. 8. Another $5,000 was paid to MGKatz LLC for accounting services. The Georgia-based investigative research firm Evers-Chance, LLC was paid $9,950.

Adeo Advocacy, the firm that manages the PAC, was paid $22,745.

Better Baltimore has $95,800 on hand.

Bob Wallace

The businessman, originally from Cherry Hill, ran as an independent in the 2020 mayoral general election. This spring, he’ll appear on city ballots as a Democrat, hoping to appeal to voters who aren’t keen on Scott or Dixon. This time last year, Wallace reported having $13,181 in cash.

Since then, Wallace has raised $47,966 and loaned himself $202,685. He reported having about $230,000 on hand.

David Warnock, a venture capitalist who ran in 2016 as a largely self-financed Democratic mayoral candidate, donated $250 to Wallace. Patrick Russell, the owner of Sláinte Irish Pub in Fells Point, donated $1,000.

Wallace loaned himself about $300,000 during the 2020 election. His wife, Carolyn Green, loaned him $50,000.

This article will be updated.

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Teresa Smack.

Emily Sullivan covers Baltimore City Hall. She joined the Banner after three years at WYPR, where she won multiple awards for her radio stories on city politics and culture. She previously reported for NPR’s national airwaves, focusing on business news and breaking news. 

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