August 20, 2019
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Maine gubernatorial hopefuls empty campaign accounts as June 12 primary nears

Carter F. McCall | BDN
Carter F. McCall | BDN
The Blaine House. Augusta, Maine.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The 11 remaining candidates in the June 12 primary to replace the term-limited Gov. Paul LePage are emptying their accounts, spending nearly nine-tenths of the $4.6 million that they raised collectively from private and public sources by this weekend.

Three of the top-tier hopefuls, Republican businessman Shawn Moody and two Democrats, attorney Adam Cote and Attorney General Janet Mills, put $75,000, $36,000 and $19,000, respectively, into their own campaigns during the past 10 days, according to updated filings with the Maine Ethics Commission available on Saturday morning.

Many of the candidates are using this money for last-minute advertising blitzes, with seven of them spending $593,000 on their campaigns between Wednesday and Saturday alone. Moody led in spending over that period, dumping $215,000 mostly into television, radio and mail advertising.

The overall fundraising leader among all candidates in the seven-way Democratic field and the four-person Republican field is Cote, who has raised $978,000 overall. He has spent all but $42,000 of that after expenses that he disclosed to the state through Friday. Since Wednesday, he has spent $135,000 — virtually all of it on TV advertising.

Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason has used the taxpayer-funded Maine Clean Election system that voters beefed up in a 2015 referendum to a fundraising lead in the Republican field, taking in $700,000 with $49,000 left as of Friday. That was just more than Moody’s $691,000 to date, though he has given his campaign $375,000. He had $120,000 left by Friday.

After Cote in the Democratic field, Mills and Hallowell lobbyist Betsy Sweet have raised nearly identical totals of just over $698,000, though Mills did it as a privately financed candidate and Sweet as a Clean Election candidate. They had $63,000 and $87,000 left, respectively. Sweet has spent $163,000 on mail and other advertising and polling since Wednesday.

Former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, a Republican, and former House Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, are in third place in their fields. Mayhew raised $362,000 with $48,000 left before this weekend and Eves raised $343,000 with $88,000 left.

However, Mayhew has been helped by $51,000 in radio advertising from Moose Tracks, a political committee run by liquor magnate Paul Coulombe. Those are the only outside expenditures on file in the governor’s race so far.

The remaining four candidates in both fields are well behind in the money race. Three Democrats — former state Rep. Diane Russell, state Sen. Mark Dion and former Biddeford mayor Donna Dion — and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, a Republican, had just $8,400 left collectively by Tuesday.

Russell, who was fined $300 by the ethics commission on Wednesday for faulty financial reporting, has raised $70,000 and spent all but $1,400 of it. But she has done nothing to address the $77,000 in debt that her campaign has carried since April. It must be retired six months after an election under state law or it is subject to contribution limits that could lead to another fine.

Two independents — Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes and consultant Alan Caron — qualified for the November ballot by a Friday deadline. Hayes got $200,000 in Clean Election money with $41,000 left as of Tuesday and will get $600,000 more after the primary. Caron raised $497,000, though $450,000 of it is personal money and he had $280,000 left as of Tuesday.

For a roundup of Maine political news, click here for the Daily Brief. Click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

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