Report: Otten, Poliquin top spenders in campaign

Posted May 28, 2010, at 10:45 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — With less than two weeks remaining before the June 8 primaries, the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor are digging deep into their campaign war chests — and occasionally into their own pockets — to reach undecided voters.

It should come as no surprise to television viewers that the bulk of candidates’ money is going into the ads that will air with increasing frequency during the next 10 days.

The latest campaign finance reports filed Friday with the Maine Ethics Commission show that, once again, Republican candidates Les Otten and Bruce Poliquin are the top spenders so far in the race for the Blaine House. Both candidates’ campaigns also are heavily self-financed.

Otten lent an additional $930,000 to his campaign between late April and late May, much of which paid for advertising and “media services.” All told, Otten has lent himself more than $2.2 million, according to campaign finance reports.

He ended the period with just shy of $3,000 in the bank.

Otten’s nearest competitor in terms of money spent is Poliquin, who has waged an aggressive TV ad campaign targeting Otten’s business record with American Skiing Co.

Poliquin, a business entrepreneur from Georgetown, reported spending more than $711,000 on his campaign so far, including $254,000 since late April. Poliquin has dipped into his own personal accounts for more than $300,000 of the total through “in-kind” donations. He ended the reporting period with $26,700 in the bank.

Among the other GOP contenders, the campaign finance reports show:

— Sen. Peter Mills of Cornville received nearly $600,000 in public financing through Maine’s Clean Election Fund, ending the period with $83,100 remaining.

— Steve Abbott, a former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, has spent $323,000 so far in the campaign but still had $109,000 left in his campaign war chest as of May 25. He received more than $80,000 in donations and loaned himself roughly $87,000 during the last reporting period.

— Bill Beardsley, the former Husson University president, has spent $252,000 so far and had $62,000 remaining as of late May.

— Waterville Mayor Paul LePage reported spending $129,000 on his campaign but still had more than $146,000 in the bank.

— Businessman Matt Jacobson has spent $137,000 and ended the reporting period with $27,000 remaining in his account.

In the Democratic race for governor, former Attorney General Steve Rowe and Senate President Libby Mitchell reported somewhat similar campaign finances, although the money comes from different sources.

Mitchell received nearly $400,000 in public financing as a Maine Clean Election candidate. She ended the campaign period with $25,000 in the bank after spending more than $300,000 on “media services” for the television ads that began airing in recent weeks.

Rowe, who is privately financed, has spent $441,000 in the campaign so far but still had roughly $39,000 in the bank. Rowe reported raising $71,600 during the period that ended May 25.

Rosa Scarcelli of Portland reported spending $562,000 on her campaign and ended the reporting period with roughly $3,000 remaining. The president and CEO of a successful, multistate affordable housing company, Scarcelli also has lent herself considerable sums in recent weeks in order to compete with her Democratic rivals.

Scarcelli dipped into her personal bank account to the tune of $255,800, including nearly $230,000 between late April and late May.

The sole remaining Democrat, former conservation commissioner Pat McGowan, had yet to file a campaign finance report with the Maine Ethics Commission as of late Friday. The deadline to file was 11:59 p.m. Friday.

As a Clean Elections candidate, McGowan also received roughly $400,000 in public financing. He still had nearly all of that money in his account as of April 20 but has likely spent considerable sums on TV ads since.

Both McGowan and Mitchell may qualify for additional public campaign financing because Rowe and Scarcelli — their two privately funded opponents in the Democratic primary — have spent more than $400,000 so far.

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