ELLSWORTH, Maine — Supporters of Maine’s school district consolidation law have a big lead in fundraising for their campaign over the group hoping to repeal the law.
Maine People for Improved School Education, the group behind the No on 3 campaign, raised $241,000 between July 6 and Sept. 30, according to the quarterly campaign finance report filed last week with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
The Maine Coalition to Save Schools, the organization that initiated the repeal petition, raised just $6,300 during the same period, which brought its yearly total to $8,323.
The No on 3 campaign has had help from Gov. John Baldacci, who proposed the school district consolidation law. According to the governor’s spokesman, David Farmer, Gov. Baldacci also has helped raise funds through phone calls and by attending fundraisers for the No on 3 campaign and the campaign to repeal the so-called Gay Marriage Law, as well as for several other ballot questions.
No on 3 has relied mainly on business contributions for its funding. Of the 21 contributions made to the organization in the last quarter, 17 came from businesses, such as Nestle Waters of North America Inc. of Greenwich, Conn.; Maine Beer & Wholesalers Assn. of Augusta; U.S. Cellular, Chicago, Ill.; UNUM Group of Port-land; and L.L. Bean of Portland, each of which donated $25,000 to the cause.
The organization’s total also includes an in-kind contribution of $10,000 from the Maine Chamber of Commerce for the time spent by Chamber President Dana Connors as spokesman for the campaign.
The coalition, on the other hand, has relied mainly on individuals and municipalities for its funding. Most of the $6,300 in contributions in the last quarter came in a single payment from the town of Blue Hill, which had made previous contributions during the two-year repeal campaign.
Of the 111 contributions made to the coalition since the repeal campaign began in 2007, just 10 came from businesses. Seventeen towns contributed to the repeal campaign during that time, including some towns that, like Blue Hill, contributed more than once. Since the campaign began, the group has raised a total of $73,374.
The campaigns have been more low-key than those surrounding the other repeal question on the Nov. 3 ballot seeking to overturn the Maine law that made marriage between gay or lesbian couples legal. The Maine Coalition to Save Schools has spent no money on television advertising, although Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, the Green Independent candidate for governor, has aired one spot urging voters to repeal the consolidation law.
In recent weeks, No on 3 has begun to air television ads urging voters to reject repeal.