Friedson Leads Field in Bethesda-Based District 1 County Council Race Fundraising
Former comptroller’s adviser has 2-to-1 money advantage over closest competitors
Democratic District 1 County Council candidate Andrew Friedson
This story was updated at 1 p.m. Jan. 19 to correct a reference to Duane Rollins. A page on Pete Fosselman's campaign website described Rollins and Fosselman as partners, but the reference is outdated; they are married.
A former aide to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is leading a crowded field of Democratic candidates in fundraising in the race for the Bethesda-based District 1 County Council seat.
Andrew Friedson, 32, reported $200,600 in cash on hand in campaign finance reports filed with the state Board of Elections Wednesday.
The amount was more than double what any other Democratic candidate in the field has in a campaign war chest, according to the reports. District 1 includes Bethesda, Kensington, Potomac, North Bethesda and northwest Montgomery County. The District 1 seat is open in the 2018 election because incumbent Roger Berliner must step down due to term limits. Berliner is running for county executive.
Former county Planning Board member Meredith Wellington reported $96,000 in cash on hand, Bethesda attorney Reggie Oldak reported $94,700 and former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman reported having about $80,000 in his campaign account.
Friedson, Wellington and Fosselman are using traditional campaign financing, while Oldak is using the county’s new public financing system.
Traditional campaign financing enables candidates to accept individual contributions up to $6,000, as well as money from businesses, PACs and party groups. Candidates using public financing can only accept contributions of $150 or less and contributions from county residents are matched with multiples of county funds.
Friedson, of Bethesda, reported raising a total of $219,000 in contributions from 673 contributors and spent about $18,000 of it since launching his campaign Aug. 8.
He received a significant amount of money from the Jewish community in the area. Friedson, who is Jewish, said he used connections he’s made through his work on the board of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and at his local synagogue.
“I’ve tapped into every network I have,” Friedson said.
He also received contributions from local developers and real estate interests. For example, members of the Ambramson family, which owns The Tower Cos., donated $14,500 to his campaign. Partners and workers at Berman Enterprises, a Rockville-based real estate company provided $6,750.
Bruce Levenson, a former owner of the Atlanta Hawks, who owns a home in Potomac, contributed $5,000. Total Wine & More co-owner David Trone contributed $750, while members of his family appear to have contributed another $4,500.
Friedson previously worked on David Trone’s unsuccessful bid for Maryland’s District 8 congressional seat in 2016, when Trone finished second to Jamie Raskin.
Friedson said Wednesday that the funds he raised will let him run a robust campaign.
“I want to expand the universe of people I’m talking to and communicate with every voter in the district,” he said.
Wellington raised $97,600 in contributions, but also loaned her campaign $66,000. She spent $67,600 since the end of May.
Wellington received a significant number of contributions from the Chevy Chase area, where she lives. She served on the county Planning Board from 1997 to 2007 as a Republican, then switched her party to Democrat.
Oldak raised about $40,000 in contributions of $150 or less from 332 donors since the end of April, which was matched with about $74,000 in public funds. A total of 269 contributions were from county residents, and thus were eligible for matching funds. After about $19,500 in expenditures, she had $94,600 cash on hand.
Oldak said Thursday that public financing has enabled many people to contribute to her campaign and she believes the system helps take out the outsize influence of large contributors in elections.
“I knew candidates that can take $6,000 in individual contributions and money from PACs and businesses would raise more money than me. I expected it,” she said. “But I’ve heard from so many voters that have told me they are sick and tired of the role that big money is playing in elections and only supporting candidates who are participating in the public financing program.”
Fosselman, a former Kensington mayor who worked in the Martin O’Malley administration as a deputy secretary of state, held two fundraisers over the past year with the former Maryland governor.
He took in $105,000 in individual contributions since March 2 as well as $7,000 from other candidates' campaign committees, but spent $39,300. He and his husband, Duane Rollins, also loaned the campaign $10,800.
Fosselman currently works in county government overseeing the implementation of the White Oak Science Gateway.
Other Democratic candidates in the District 1 council field include Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Chevy Chase); Jim McGee a Bethesda benefits professional; Chevy Chase social worker Dalbin Osorio; and Bethesda community activist Bill Cook.
Gutierrez, who is using public financing, reported raising $8,200 in contributions of $150 or less, which is less than the $10,000 in qualifying contributions a district council candidate needs to raise to qualify for public funds. She also loaned her campaign $12,000, leaving her with $18,200 in cash on hand after $2,000 in expenditures.
McGee, Cook and Osorio, who are all using public financing, reported $3,400, $1,900, and $500 in cash on hand, respectively.
Republican Richard Banach, a college student and the only Republican in the race so far, reported raising no money in his filing.