Jim Smith campaign report shows thousands spent on research
Outgoing Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. began the year with a pile of cash – more than $1 million – and designs on a state Senate seat.
Even though Smith, a Democrat, had moved to the county's District 7 in preparation for a Senate run, he announced in June that he was opting out of the race. At the time, political observers speculated that his internal polling showed he couldn't win the seat. Smith has said his numbers were strong.
His latest campaign report reveals that he spent about $75,000 on campaign research and consultants in the final months that he was weighing a Senate run. He raised no money between Jan. 20 and Aug. 10 and has about $974,000 left in the bank, his report shows.
Smith, who is leaving the county executive office because of term limits, has vowed to stay out of the contentious battle for county his job.
Democratic county council members Joseph Bartenfelder and Kevin Kamenetz are vying for the seat, along with Republican Ken Holt. Smith’s campaign finance report shows no sign that he’s serving up cash to either Bartenfelder or Kamenetz. But he has transferred money to one Baltimore County politician.
Late last month, Smith's account posted a $6,000 transfer to Del. Adrienne Jones, a Democrat from Catonsville and speaker pro tem of the House. She also works for Smith as director of the county Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs.
As for Smith's campaign research, here are the financial details:
In March and again in April, he made $11,000 payments to Nesbitt, and in May, he paid $23,000 to Peter D. Hart. Both are Washington-based research firms. Smith spent about $30,000 on consultants, the report shows.
With Smith out of the Senate race, all eyes are on the Republican primary, where Del. J.B. Jennings and former state insurance commissioner Al Redmer are both running strong, visible campaigns. Two lesser-known Democrats also are in the mix. The seat is open because Republican state Sen. Andy Harris is running for Congress.
And there was one other recent Smith expense – about $700 on promotional material for a reception this week at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in Ocean City. He’s held the event for several years and told The Gazette it’s not a last hurrah, but rather a celebration of his eight years as county executive.