Former U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn has raised four times more money than any other candidate in Maryland’s crowded, competitive 3rd Congressional District, according to new campaign finance reports.

Dunn brought in $3.77 million in the first three months of the year, buoyed by donors across the nation drawn to his compelling story of fighting off a mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The tally places Dunn far ahead of the rest of the field of 22 Democratic candidates.

The large pool of candidates has been drawn to a seat in the Central Maryland suburbs that’s open following U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes’ decision not to run for reelection this year. The district includes all of Howard County, the central and northern parts of Anne Arundel County and a small portion of Carroll County.

Dunn, who lives outside of the district in Silver Spring, reported having nearly $1.7 million cash on hand heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

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Dunn’s team acknowledges that only about 5,000 of his 115,000 donors are from within Maryland. But they point out that his average contribution is about $21. Dunn’s campaign touted his haul in a news release as evidence of a “grassroots juggernaut.”

“I’m so humbled by the outpouring of support for our campaign from across the district, Maryland, and the country,” Dunn said in a statement. “We’re going to win this race, and when I get to Congress, I know who I will work for and I will be accountable to — and it won’t be the Super-PAC donors or the special interest groups.”

That statement is a nod to rival candidate Sarah Elfreth, a state senator who has been the beneficiary of ad spending by the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC.

Elfreth raised $513,000 in the first quarter, with a total of $915,000 raised since she entered the race, and still has $569,000 in the bank to spend.

More than 80% of Elfreth’s donations came from Maryland residents, according to her campaign.

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Elfreth said the first quarter numbers were “strong” and showed the consistent support she’s received from constituents since her first race for state Senate in 2018. The Anne Arundel County Democrat said she’s grateful for the financial resources to continue delivering what she describes as a positive message.

The other candidate in the 22-person Democratic field with significant financial resources is Clarence Lam, a physician and state senator from Howard County.

Lam raised $248,000 during the reporting period, for a total of $640,000 since he joined the race, and has $505,000 cash on hand. Like Elfreth, Lam stressed that most of his donors — 75% — are from Maryland.

Lam also criticized AIPAC for getting into the race. “I am disappointed that a super PAC has recently decided to spend millions of dollars to influence the outcome of this election and try to buy this seat for their preferred candidate,” Lam said, a reference to Elfreth.

The rest of the Democrats in the field raised significantly less money and have less cash available to buy ads and send out mailers in the final weeks of the campaign.

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Juan Dominguez, a military veteran and businessman from Anne Arundel County, has just $9,400 left after raising about $75,000 in the quarter and $366,000 overall.

His team is targeting “a persuadable universe of people” that they’ve identified through research.

Dominguez said he and his team speak to about 700-800 voters each day by knocking doors and making phone calls. Many of the voters tell him they’re still undecided, he said.

John Morse, a labor union lawyer from Anne Arundel County who is backed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, said candidates shouldn’t be measured only by how much money they raise. He raised about $115,000 and has $94,000 cash in the bank.

“If it just comes down to who raised the most money, then it would just be a fundraising game, and the rest of us should not even try,” he said.

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Morse said his supporters don’t have “millions of dollars” and have real-world financial struggles like wanting to buy a home and pay for prescriptions and child care.

Other Democratic candidates who reported campaign activity include: Del. Mike Rogers of Anne Arundel County; Del. Terri Hill of Howard County; Del. Mark Chang of Anne Arundel County; defense attorney Michael Coburn of Anne Arundel County; business owner Abigail Diehl of Anne Arundel County; Aisha Khan, an entrepreneur who previously ran for office in Baltimore County; and Don Quinn, a lawyer and military veteran from Anne Arundel County.

Nine Republicans are running in that party’s primary, but none have significant name recognition or campaign resources.

The Republican nominee will also face a challenge in the general election: The 3rd District’s voters are about 46% Democrats, 28% Republicans, 24% unaffiliated with any party and the rest belonging to third parties, according to state registration statistics. Democrats are considered strong favorites to retain the seat, according to ratings from Inside Elections and the Cook Political Report.

Mail-in voting is already underway, with in-person early voting scheduled for May 2-9 and traditional Election Day voting on May 14.

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Correction: This article has been updated to correct quarterly fundraising amounts for Sarah Elfreth, Clarence Lam and Juan Dominguez.

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