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Maryland 1st District race for Congress saw cash influx

Maryland’s most expensive House race got a last-minute rush of cash from across the country, but its full magnitude won’t be clear until financial reports are due next month.

The candidates in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District took in at least $200,000 between Oct. 21 and the Nov. 2 election, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The total could be higher — campaigns are required to report any donation of $1,000 or more within 48 hours, but the final tallies, including smaller donations, are not due until Dec. 2.

Republican state Sen. Andy Harris defeated freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil, in a race that had already cost them $3.9 million by Oct. 21, but outside money that candidates don’t have to report has been pouring into the race, putting the total lavished on the race at more than $8 million, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The last-minute money was split almost down the middle: Harris collected $105,000 in large donations while Kratovil raised $95,750. The only candidate to raise more was Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-8th Congressional District), who took in $118,000 in large donations in the last two weeks of the campaign.

Van Hollen announced Friday that he is stepping down as DCCC chairman.

Of Kratovil’s last-minute donations, $60,500 came from political action committees and other groups in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Three campaigns gave to Kratovil. One was Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who gave $1,000. Thompson and Kratovil were both members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of self-identified conservative and moderate Democrats who say they emphasize fiscal responsibility and bipartisanship over party politics.

New York’s Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley also gave $1,000 and the campaign of Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chipped in $2,000.

Kratovil’s campaign manager, Jessica Klonsky, declined to say how the money was used, but said contributions are always important.

“With any campaign, it’s about having what you need to get your message out,” Klonsky said.

Contributions to Harris, an anesthesiologist, reflect his popularity among medical groups. Over the course of the campaign, more than $240,000 in donations from physicians as far away as Arizona, Hawaii and Puerto Rico helped Harris collect more than any House candidate in Maryland except Kratovil, Van Hollen and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, (D-5th Congressional District).

Harris also received a $5,000 contribution from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians and another $5,000 from Wellmed Medical Management, a Texas-based insurance provider. Harris did not return calls for comment; he wrote on his campaign website that he supports health care reform, but not “through government-run or government-mandated insurance, but, instead, common-sense, market-based solutions” including tax credits, medical savings accounts and “meaningful medical malpractice liability reform.”

House candidates in the rest of the state raised a combined $307,877 in last-minute donations that required reporting, the cash going almost exclusively to incumbents. District 5 Republican Charles Lollar was the only challenger other than Harris to file 48-hour reports, declaring $37,000 in large donations in his unsuccessful bid against Hoyer.