WASHINGTON -- Maryland GOP Senate candidate Daniel Bongino will report raising at least $650,000 for his campaign since July, a significantly larger haul than he has had in any quarter since announcing his candidacy last year.
Bongino, who is running an underdog campaign against incumbent Democrat Sen. Ben Cardin, has been an aggressive candidate, but has lacked the financial resources needed to pose a serious threat to Cardin in deep blue Maryland. The latest number puts the former Secret Service agent in the same ballpark as Cardin for the first time.
"It shows momentum," Bongino said in an interview, noting that his campaign has doubled its fundraising over the past several quarters. "We're going to close in the last five weeks even stronger and we feel like we're in great shape."
The higher fundraising follows Bongino's endorsement in August by former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who maintains a following of loyal conservatives willing to donate to candidates she supports. Bongino was also endorsed by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who attended a fundraiser for him in Talbot County on Thursday.
Bongino raised $207,000 in the second quarter of this year compared with more than $521,000 for Cardin. The incumbent Democrat, who has a big lead in the race, has also maintained a much larger cash reserve and will likely continue to do so heading into November -- an important factor that will give Cardin more room to maneuver in coming weeks.
Neither campaign released cash-on-hand numbers Monday.
Independent candidate Rob Sobhani will report spending at least $4 million, a campaign aide said. That money will have "predominantly" come from the candidate himself, the aide said.
Third quarter campaign finance reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 15 and the bottom-line figures will change as checks written between the end of the quarter and the filing deadline continue to roll in.
Both Cardin and Bongino may ultimately be eclipsed by Sobhani, a Montgomery County businessman, who has recently poured millions into a television ad campaign.
A Gonzalez poll last week found that five in 10 respondents said they will back Cardin compared with 22 percent for Bongino and 21 percent for Sobhani.