AUGUSTA, Maine — Mike Michaud continues to outpace his two gubernatorial opponents in the money race as the campaigns heat up leading into August.
According to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the state Tuesday night, the Democrat’s total fundraising has netted more than $1.9 million for the campaign to date.
With more than $1 million, Michaud — a sitting U.S. congressman — also has more available cash than either Republican Gov. Paul LePage or independent candidate Eliot Cutler.
Michaud also raised more money from individuals and groups during the most recent six-week reporting period, from May 28 through July 15, than either of his opponents, raking in nearly $356,000.
Gov. Paul LePage raised more than $234,000 during this reporting period, bringing his total fundraising to date to about $1.26 million. LePage was holding roughly $915,000 cash at the end of the period, putting him just behind Michaud in terms of accessible funds.
But it’s not money in that LePage’s campaign is focused on: It’s money out. LePage has spent only about $327,000 to date, compared to Michaud’s nearly $921,000.
Alex Willette, LePage’s campaign spokesman, said that by spending nearly three times as much as the governor, Michaud was “burning cash.”
Michaud’s campaign, however, says the candidate’s strong financial position shows that the Democrat is poised to win.
“We are in a strong position to get our positive message of change out to voters,” said Michaud’s campaign manager, Matt McTighe. “Congressman Michaud is the strongest candidate in this race and the only person who has a proven track record of bringing people together to move Maine forward.”
Campaign expenditures by Cutler topped $1.5 million this period — more than Michaud and LePage combined. The independent candidate has raised more money than either of his partisan rivals — more than $2 million so far, but nearly half of that money came in the form of loans from Cutler to his campaign.
This period, Cutler loaned his campaign roughly $581,000.
Cutler’s campaign has said the candidate expected to contribute substantially to his own campaign. He has also pledged not to take any money from Political Action Committees, which have given $189,000 to Michaud and LePage.
(PACs, however, increasingly influence elections not with contributions to candidates, but via independent expenditures.)
“The people of Maine are tired of the special interests running the show in Augusta and are looking for someone who is unbought and unbossed,“ Cutler said in a written statement. “We have had 11 years of economic decline, and it’s time for a governor who will put the interests of Maine people first.”
Cutler has also said state campaign finance laws handicap independent candidates by capping the total contribution limit for donors at $1,500 — half that allowed for partisan candidates. A lawsuit seeking to overturn that law was recently filed by four Cutler supporters, and is pending in U.S. District Court.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.