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Some state candidates running unopposed, but not complacent

October 14, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - While contested election campaigns approach their peak, even unopposed candidates aren't sitting on their hands.

Three Washington County state representatives, all Republicans running alone, are campaigning to some degree, too. That includes fundraising, a political constant.

Most of the money that Del. Christopher B. Shank and Sen. Donald F. Munson raised came in before they knew if anyone would run against them.

The third unopposed incumbent, Del. Robert A. McKee, has raised a fraction of what his two colleagues have raised.

Since November 2002, McKee's campaign has received $1,600, including one individual contribution: $50 from Betty Smith of Hagerstown.

McKee said his fundraising philosophy is: "Do as little of that as necessary."

The result is a bare-bones campaign account. The Citizens for Bob McKee Committee had a cash balance of $1,136 as of Sept. 1, the most recent filing deadline for candidates in Maryland.

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Friends of Don Munson had $43,380 and Citizens for Chris Shank, House of Delegates, had $64,275, according to records posted online at the Maryland Voter Information Clearinghouse.

Shank said he held two fundraisers near the end of 2005 - one at a local physician's home, the other at the Four Points Sheraton. Since then, "I haven't had any and don't plan on having any," he said.

Munson said he raises money for his campaign once a year.

"I do not find fundraising fun," he said. "I do it because it's a requirement of the job."

Munson's campaign took in $24,160 before the Jan. 18 filing period and $18,020 more by the Aug. 15 filing period, according to state records posted online.

Munson noted that when he was raising money, he didn't know if someone would run against him. "To the best of my recollection, I've never been without an opponent," he said.

The deadline for filing to run for office was July 3.

In a campaign fund report filed Sept. 1, Munson's campaign receipts had dropped to $685.

Shank's campaign account saw a similar drop.

It took in $56,925 by the Jan. 18 deadline. Receipts dropped to $675 for the Aug. 15 filing and $1,350 for the most recent one.

Each of the three local candidates planned to use campaign money to reach voters this election season.

Munson bought spaces on billboards, including one where East Washington Street turns into Dual Highway.

"Even though I'm unopposed, I still find it an obligation to campaign, and I will," he said.

In July, Shank said he expected to make door-to-door visits and send direct mail pieces, adding, "I won't take my constituents for granted."

McKee wants to distribute a brochure summarizing his views to residents in new developments in his district. But his campaign doesn't have enough money to print it. He figures it will cost a little over $1,000 for 5,000 pieces.

So, he sent a fundraising letter asking for $5, $10 or $25.

"Since the 2002 election, I haven't asked for a single campaign contribution," he wrote. "That's the part of being a Delegate that I really don't like - asking for money. But with only $1,136.01 in my campaign account, it has now become necessary to ask for a contribution."

In an interview, McKee said he doesn't mind having a meager campaign fund rather than a large war chest, which might be intended to scare away re-election opponents.

"If you do your job and do it well, you don't need it," he said.

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