Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel raised $115,950 in the first half of 2023 — the most among congressional candidates in the 6th District by a wide margin, according to July reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Six Republicans and eight Democrats have filed or announced their intent to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by U.S. Rep. David Trone, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate instead of reelection.
Former state Del. Neil Parrott, a Hagerstown Republican, also has filed to run, but wrote in an email to The Frederick News-Post on Tuesday that he hasn't made up his mind. "My wife and I are praying and actively talking about the possibility with family, friends and consultants," he wrote.
Parrott lost to Trone in the 2020 congressional general election, 59% to 39%, and in the 2022 general election, 55% to 45%.
Vogel, a Democrat from Rockville, was sworn into the state legislature early this year. He began campaigning for the House seat in May, shortly after Trone announced his intent to succeed Ben Cardin in the Senate.
Not only has Vogel taken in far more in contributions than all of his competitors, he has also spent more.
FEC reports indicate that Vogel has spent $31,407 on his campaign through June 30. The majority went toward consulting services and transaction fees largely related to the cost of accepting contributions through ActBlue, an online fundraising platform.
If elected, Vogel, 26, would be the youngest member of Maryland's congressional delegation. He would be the first 26-year-old to represent a Maryland district in Congress since Harry Wolf was elected to serve District 3 in 1907.
In an interview with The Frederick News-Post on Tuesday, Vogel said he owes his early fundraising success to a coalition of grassroots donors.
"I am not the kind of candidate that can fund his own campaign," Vogel said. "We are building a campaign funded by everyday folks who believe in that promise of a new generation of leadership."
If he makes it to Congress, Vogel said, he would focus on the same issues he worked on as a member of the state legislature, including mental health and the opioid epidemic.
He is not concerned about his ability to connect with Republicans and voters living in Western Maryland, calling himself as a "pragmatic progressive."
"I'm someone that has progressive values," he said. "But I believe at the end of the day that if we're not getting things done to make people's lives better, then what's the point of all this?"
Maryland's 6th District includes all of four counties — Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett — and part of Montgomery County.