Magazine article The New Yorker

Need That Cash

Magazine article The New Yorker

Need That Cash

Article excerpt


Martin Knott, Jr., is the national finance chairman for Martin O'Malley, the Democratic Presidential candidate and former governor of Maryland. Not long ago, Knott and Damian O'Doherty, the head of O'Malley's super PAC, flew to Kansas City, rented a car, and headed for Des Moines, to join O'Malley at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, a prerequisite for any caucus hopeful. Knott pursues one kind of donor, and O'Doherty pursues another--inside money, outside money, you might say. Election laws forbid them from coordinating, so they have to be careful when they travel together. "We are very strict about not ending up in jail," Knott said last week. They listen to music and don't talk much.

Leaving Kansas City, Knott, a Grateful Dead fanatic, put on the Dead's 1990 live CD "Without a Net." "It seemed appropriate," Knott said. Fund-raising for a long shot can feel like a high-wire act. Speeding through cornfields under a vast blue Iowa sky, Knott flashed back to bygone migrations to Midwestern amphitheatres. "I felt like I was back on tour, headed for Deer Creek," he said. " 'Going down the road feeling bad'! And then dropping into the Jefferson-Jackson dinner--it was like dropping into a show." He began to evolve a theory that crisscrossing the country to raise money for a Presidential candidate is a lot like following the Dead. "You know the back roads, so to speak," he said. "On tour and on the trail, you learn how to connect with people."

Knott, who is forty-four, attended, or at least matriculated at, Xavier University, in Cincinnati, in the early nineties, and used it as a base of touring operations. In 1993, the year before he graduated, he attended forty-two shows. To many Deadheads, he is known as the Today in Grateful Dead History guy. Every weekday for the past nine years, he has sent out an e-mail blast with a link to a streamable recording of a concert from the date in question, along with some hastily typed pensees.

Martin Knott, Jr.

Ladies and gentlemen

It doesn't matter if it's 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, or 1987

Red Rocks and the Grateful Dead. . . .


Knott, who runs an H.V.A.C. and plumbing business in Baltimore, reckons that no one has ever raised as much money for Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidates as he has. He comes from a family of prominent Baltimore Catholics. His grandfather on his father's side, Henry J. Knott, was a bricklayer who became a prosperous real-estate developer; the family foundation supports Catholic charities and schools. …

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