AUGUSTA, Maine — Forces seeking to repeal the state’s new voter registration law are outspending their opponents 3 to 1 while the ratio is even more dramatic in a casino vote, with supporters outspending gambling foes 4 to 1, according to campaign finance reports on file Monday.
Reports filed with the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices show supporters of a yes vote on Question 1 to restore same-day voter registration spent more than $660,000. Their opponents spent nearly $200,000 as of Monday.
On the two gambling questions, supporters’ campaigns have spent more than $3 million while opponents’ total as of last week was about $780,000.
On Question 1, the campaign’s biggest political action committee is Protect Maine Votes, whose major contributors include millionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, who’s the husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and several unions. Among the other organizations supporting passage of Question 1 are the Maine Democratic Party, the Maine People’s Alliance and the Working America political action committee.
No on One-Secure Maine’s Ballot, which received funding from some county Republican organizations and individuals, the Maine Republican Party and the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, are among those donating to the opposing campaign.
A yes vote on Nov. 8 repeals a newly enacted state law that requires voters to register at least two business days before an election. Passage also would reinstate a law that allows registration before and on Election Day, or same-day registration.
Questions 2 and 3 focus on casinos.
Question 2 asks residents whether they want to allow a pair of harness racing tracks with slot machines, one of them called Biddeford Downs and another one to be operated by Passamaquoddy Indians in Washington County. Question 3 asks for approval of a casino with slot machines and table games in Lewiston.
Putting Maine to Work has raised $3.3 million, most of which came in the form of in-kind contributions and loans from Ocean Properties, which wants to build a racino in Biddeford. The group has spent $2.7 million for Question 2. The Committee to Save Maine Harness Racing has spent more than $50,000 to pass the question.
Opposing that and Question 3 is Penobscot County for Table Gaming and Jobs, which reported about $500,000 spent. Its principal donor is Penn National Gaming, owner of the Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor.
On Monday, the casino debate heated up with new television advertisements claiming Maine was moving too fast on casinos and encouraging voters to reject both proposals.
The ads were sponsored by Mainers Against A Rotten Deal, a group that casino supporters said was funded through the state’s two existing casinos, the owner of Hollywood Slots and a group affiliated with another casino that’s under construction in Oxford.
“They’re spending a lot of money to protect their monopolies … the only thing rotten in Maine is Mainers Against a Rotten Deal,” Stavros Mendros, campaign manager for People of Lewiston and Auburn Committee, which supports construction of a casino in Lewiston.
Mainers Against A Rotten Deal says two casinos are enough and it’s fighting “greedy casino developers.” It says it was formed so families that oppose casinos can have “a credible and respected voice” in the debate.