Sutton for Cecil Sheriff: Lots of $ In, Lots Out

January 26, 2010

   Chris Sutton, the announced Democratic candidate for Cecil County Sheriff, had a banner year for fundraising but ended up with just $8,718 in cash on hand going into this election season. That won’t go far in a potential general election re-match against incumbent Republican Sheriff Barry Janney, one of the most successful fundraisers in county political history.

    Janney did not comply with state election law requiring campaign finance report filing last week. But in his last filed report, covering 2008, Janney’s campaign fund had $15,895 in cash on hand.

     Sutton has taken a page from Janney’s political playbook: golf fundraisers. Most of Sutton’s larger donations are the result of a golf tournament fundraiser he held, but he also did smaller events such as a picnic and a dinner and silent auction in Cecilton.

    According to filings with the State Board of Elections, Sutton raised $38,313 in 2009. But his expenses totaled $29,595– including $14,544 in fundraising costs. The golf tournament expenses amounted to more than half of the fundraising costs.

    Sutton also spent $8,321 on “media,” including ads in the Cecil Whig and the creation of his website, www.suttonforsheriff.com . Sutton has an unusually well-designed website for a Cecil County candidate, with a moving ticker listing crime news headlines and a video of the candidate speaking directly to voters.

    Sutton’s largest donations came from businesses, including a $500 golf sponsorship and donation of a gift certificate valued at $400 from Outdoor Adventures, Inc. in Baltimore. CMPFire, LLC of Newark, DE donated a $500 golf sponsorship and $315 in tickets and auction purchases at the Cecilton fundraiser.  Other $500 donors included Corron Trash Removal of North East, John Sentman of Elkton, and Charles Carroll of Florida.

   So far, Sutton is the only announced Democrat in the race but there have been rumblings that Skip DeWitt, a deputy and the son of a former popular sheriff, might get into the fray and challenge Sutton in the Democratic primary.

    Sutton is no newcomer to politics after his unsuccessful challenge to Janney in the last election. Janney outspent and outgunned Sutton during that campaign. But this time Sutton is much better known in the county and has spent the last several years making the rounds of local events as a candidate-in-waiting.

    In addition, Sutton has enlisted a young campaign treasurer, Patrick Tuer, who helped organize the local Young Democrats club and is savvy in social networking and online organizing. So far, Sutton’s campaign reports do not show online fundraising but that could be a source of growth for his campaign as the election contest heats up. 

   “We’re really excited,” Sutton said of his fundraising in an interview with The Cecil Times.  “Especially in this economy, I don’t think we could have done any better.”

    Sutton plans to hold a dinner-dance fundraiser in Fair Hill on April 9 and another golf tournament on May 7 in Rising Sun. He said he will also hold free meet-the-candidate events around the county this summer.  His goal is to raise up to $90,000 for his campaign– a figure that would make him very competitive with Janney, given the incumbent’s past six-figure warchests. 

    Janney formally anounced his candidacy for re-election recently and defended his record and accomplishments. But he faces a challenge in the Republican primary from a deputy and political newcomer, Dan Slater. (See previous Cecil Times posting on Slater’s campaign finances.) That means Janney will have to focus his attention, and some campaign money, on the primary.

    So far, Janney hasn’t updated his old campaign website, http://www.janneyforsheriff.com  which notes that the 2006 election is “behind us.”  Slater has a very detailed website, http://www.slaterforsheriff.com .

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Slater for Cecil Sheriff: GOP Challenger is Poor

January 25, 2010

  Dan Slater, a Republican challenger in this year’s GOP primary to incumbent Cecil County Sheriff Barry Janney, is working hard but having little real success in his fundraising efforts, according to state election records.

   State documents show that Slater has raised a total of $5,965, while spending $4,813 on the usual printing, bumper stickers, etc. costs to get his name known around the county.

   That leaves Slater with just $1,152 in cash on hand to mount  his campaign at this point. Of course, Campaign 2010 is still young and he may still come up with more substantial funds. But it is a measure of Slater’s lack of name recognition with the general public that he is so short on donations, and the all-important cash on hand, at this stage of the election season.

     Slater’s top donor is a Rising Sun business, RKP Investments, LLC, with a $1,000 contribution to Slater’s campaign.  Most of Slater’s other much smaller donations are from Rising Sun and North East  businesses and residents.

    Someone needs to remind him that Sheriff candidates run countywide. Slater has no donations from southern Cecil County residents or businesses and just a smattering of Elkton-area supporters.

    Slater has a detailed website outlining his views on the issues: http://www.slaterforsheriff.com


Upcoming News: Cecil Sheriff Race, Kent Co. 36 Delegate Race

January 25, 2010

UPCOMING NEWS:

  Just to let our Cecil Times readers know what we are working on:

 — State Delegate Mary Roe Walkup (R-36)  has done no fundraising, despite the fact that she is facing serious opposition in the Republican primary and a credible Democratic challenger in the general election.

–In Cecil County’s Sheriff’s race, incumbent Republican  Barry Janney has not complied with state election laws requiring financial disclosures that were due on 1/20/10.

–Rival Republican Dan Slater did obey the law and file his campaign finance report. But he is woefully poor.

–Democratic Sheriff Candidate Chris Sutton has done a super job of fundraising: BUT he has spent a ton of his donations on fundraising expenses, leaving him with a pittance in cash on hand in his campaign fund.

–READ The CECIL TIMES for more indpendent news reporting on Maryland and Cecil County politics and news issues!


Del. Richard Sossi: Fundraising Success–But For Which Seat?

January 22, 2010

     Del. Richard Sossi (R-36-Queen Anne’s County) has indeed been “fundraising like mad,” as the Cecil Times reported on Twitter recently, and new campaign finance reports show that this early in Campaign 2010, Sossi has raised as much as he reported in his 2006 pre-general election campaign for Delegate. But this time, the unanswered question is whether his fundraising hard work will be used in a re-election campaign for Delegate or a run for the State Senate.

    The latest report for his campaign committee, “Citizens to Elect Richard Sossi,” filed right on time this week, shows that in 2009, he raised a total of $28,845. Less expenses of fundraisers, printing, etc., plus a carryover bank balance from 2008 of $8,380, Del. Sossi had a net cash-on-hand balance of $33,724.

    That compares favorably with his pre-general election finance report from the 2006 election, when he reported raising $29,973.

   The early-and-often fundraising indicates that Del. Sossi is getting prepared for the possibility that our resident political Sphinx, State Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36), will come down from the mountain and tell us mere mortal voters whether he is giving up his Senate seat to challenge Andy Harris in the Republican primary for the 1st District Congress seat now held by Democrat Frank Kratovil.  In the event that Pipkin does decide to challenge Harris– which many Washington political handicappers think he will– Sossi would be well-positioned to mount a strong race for the vacated Senate seat.

    “It’s like chicken soup: it can’t hurt, ” Sossi said of his early fundraising during an interview with The Cecil Times Friday. Regardless of Pipkin’s decision, “either way, I’d be in better shape” with early fundraising, Sossi said. And having a healthy campaign fund will likely deter a serious primary challenger.

  Sossi’s fundraising report is the stuff of dreams for many candidates: lots of small donations, a sprinkling of modest Political Action Committee contributions, and loyal repeat donors. But there are a few small donations from interesting sources: $250 from Andy Harris’ state campaign committee and a token donation from the campaign committee of Donald Alcorn, an unsuccessful past Republican candidate for Queen Anne’s County Commissioner who has already filed for Pipkin’s Senate seat. Alcorn has done no fundraising and his campaign report consists of loans to himself.  So Sossi’s potential Senate primary opponent thought so highly of  Sossi that he donated to his campaign?  That’s every candidate’s dream campaign flyer.

    On the PAC front, Sossi raised $3,825 in 2009. PAC donors included Maryland New Car and Truck Dealers PAC ($500); the Restaurant Association of Maryland ($350); Emergency Medicine PAC ($250); and Constellation Energy PAC ($250.)

   Some of Sossi’s largest combined donations came from a consulting firm run by former House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell, Jr., the conservative Democrat  icon of Kent County politics who still keeps a hand in General Assembly issues as one of  nine currently registered lobbyists for Constellation Energy, according to State Ethics board reports. Mitchell’s Ryandy Chesapeake Bay Consulting, LLC donated a total of $1,250 to Sossi in 2009, plus a personal donation of $250 is listed to “Clayton Mitchell.”

   When the Kent County Commissioners re-named the county office building in Mitchell’s honor in 2008, minutes of the commissioners meeting report that only Sossi and Del. Mary Roe Walkup (R-36) from the state delegation showed up to honor him.  That may be part of Sossi’s appeal across the political lines to a Democrat like Mitchell: Sossi works the district and shows up anywhere and everywhere if there is a hand to be shaken.

    “Mr. Mitchell and I have met for coffee in Annapolis and I value his opinions as a conservative Democrat,” Sossi said, adding that “There aren’t too many of them left.”

 As far as fellow elected Republicans, Sossi’s latest report shows donati0ns totaling $125 from Cecil County Commissioner Robert Hodge (R) and $35 from Commissioner Jim Mullin (R). Absent from the list were Pipkin and fellow 36th District Republican Del. Michael Smigiel.

 Smigiel was maneuvering to run for the Senate seat if Pipkin should give it up but we are hearing that he is now telling Republicans that he plans to run again for Delegate. Sossi’s strong popularity in the District would have made for a bruising, uphill primary fight for Smigiel. And Smigiel is hoping to move up a notch in the House GOP leadership with the decision by the Minority Whip, Del. Christopher Shank, to seek a Western Maryland State Senate seat.

  Del. Sossi plans to keep up his fundraising so that “I’m ready to go, either way,” for Delegate or state senate. He added that he hopes to raise up to $50,000 for whichever campaign he wages this year. He’s more than halfway there already.


Food Aid Rising in Cecil County: 11% Get Help

January 3, 2010

  Federal food stamps are now used by about 11 percent of  Cecil County residents, up from about 10 percent of county residents just a few months ago, according to state data. The indicators show the impact of the recession is still growing in Cecil County, even as some economic forecasters project that the economy is improving.

    Detailed statistical reports by the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which oversees various welfare programs including food stamps, show a sharp increase in food stamp aid in Cecil County within the past year. There were 11,059 participants in the program in November, 2009, up from 8,241 participants in November, 2008.  And just since this summer, participation in the food aid program has jumped by nearly 1,000 people in the county.

   The food stamps program has long been viewed by many economic analysts as a leading indicator of financial hard times, since the federally-funded program has less restrictive rules for participation than cash welfare programs and many newly poor-but-proud families who shun traditional welfare will accept food stamps to feed their children. The program, formally renamed “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” or SNAP in 2008, provides debit cards that can be used to buy groceries, with the amount of aid dependent upon family size and income.

   Statewide, food stamp participants numbered 527,011 in November, up from 491,262  just a few months ago, in July, 2009.

    Although the numbers show rising numbers of Maryland families are getting food aid, a Baltimore court ruled several weeks ago that state social services agencies are not moving fast enough to meet the demand. The judge ordered the state to come up with an action plan to make sure that all applicants for food stamps receive a decision within 30 days, as required by federal regulations.  (Read about the court decision here:)http://www.acy.org/articlenav.php?id=592

    During the court case, advocates for the poor calculated that just 59 percent of eligible families in the state were actually receiving benefits in 2007. The state argued that it had made efforts to improve its outreach to eligible families and speed up processing of claims. But the court found otherwise and directed the state to comply with the 30-day processing rule by the end of this year.

    Anecdotally, local Cecil County food pantries and churches have reported increased calls for assistance in these tough economic times. On the Upper Shore, other counties are also hard hit. As of June, 2009, food stamp participation amounted to 13 percent of the population in Caroline County; 10 percent in Kent County; 7 percent in Talbot County; and 5 percent in Queen Anne’s County.

     Statewide, Cecil County’s food stamp rate tied for eighth highest, along with Kent County, Washington County and Worchester County. The highest food stamp rates, as of June, 2009, were Baltimore City (24 percent of the population); Dorchester County (20 percent); Somerset County (16 percent); Allegany County(15 percent); Wicomico County (14 percent); Caroline County (13 percent); and Garrett County (12 percent).

    Seven of the counties on that list are in the First Congressional District. That means that incumbent Rep. Frank Kratovil, a Democrat, and whichever Republican ends up running against him in this year’s November election, would be well advised to pay attention to what the food stamp numbers mean in political terms. People in the First District are hurting, and when they are hurting, they are usually angry. And an angry electorate is unpredictable.