By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new poll from Monmouth University has Chris Van Hollen leading Donna Edwards by 16 points. Van Hollen takes 52% of likely Democratic voters to Edwards’ 36%. The two are hoping to succeed retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Political reporter Pat Warren looks at the outside interest this race is getting.

That outside interest spells money. Political action committees have unleashed a flood of funds to get their candidates’ messages across to voters.

A campaign ad against Chris Van Hollen featuring President Barack Obama was not the work of Donna Edwards; it was made and paid for by an outside group to influence the election in favor of Van Hollen’s opponent, Donna Edwards.

“Whether it’s a presidential campaign or local here in Baltimore, there are interested parties that are trying to influence the election,” said Amy Bree Becker, Loyola University Communications. “So it’s really upped the amount of paid campaign communications that we’re seeing.”

Political action committees have been extra busy in Maryland. A “Chris Van Hollen fights for our values” ad is made and paid for by an outside organization. Van Hollen’s fundraising far outdistances Donna Edwards but the Edwards campaign got a boost from a group dedicated to supporting women in politics.

“There’s also this idea that PACs give money to candidates on both sides because whoever ends up winning, you want to have a stake or an influence with them,” Becker said.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside groups supporting Donna Edwards have spent $4 million. Outside groups supporting Chris Van Hollen have spent $1.4 million.

“And so there’s a lot of concern that these groups are having more influence on the election than they should be,” Becker said.

That influence can extend to all campaigns everywhere in the country.

More than 250,000 Marylanders cast ballots during the eight days of early voting.

These PACs got the go-ahead from the Supreme Court in 2010 when it ruled that government cannot limit non-profits independent expenditures.


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