Early polling for party primaries in Maine’s gubernatorial race showed a highly unsettled electorate, but the money candidates amassed heading into Tuesday’s election sheds more light on how the state leans in Democratic and Republican contests.
The money fueling the leading primary campaigns for governor has come from fewer parts of Maine than the funds paying for their challengers’ campaigns, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis.
Democrat Janet Mills and Republican Mary Mayhew are each second in their races for total money raised, through May 29. But both lead their races for the number of distinct ZIP codes where they convinced at least one voter to give their campaigns $50 or more.
Mills trails Adam Cote, and Mayhew trails Shawn Moody for overall fundraising. Polling in late April showed Mills and Moody as front-runners in their respective races, with many still undecided.
Other than polling, the trail of money coming into the candidates’ campaigns provides some of the only hard data on the candidates’ support among voters, particularly the engaged and loyal party voters that are more likely to contribute cash and vote in primaries.
Comparing the geographic diversity of fundraising efforts is complicated by two candidates running with public financing. But they did have to mount fundraising efforts to qualify for the taxpayer cash.
On the Democratic side, publicly financed candidate Betsy Sweet’s initial fundraising effort ranked among the party’s leaders for its geographic reach, despite having a more limited fundraising period. She raised cash from donors in 137 different Maine ZIP codes, compared with traditionally financed front-runner Janet Mills, at 213.
On the Republican side, publicly financed candidate Garrett Mason raised seed money from 72 different ZIP codes.
The figures also show just how much those fundraising efforts disproportionately rely on York and Cumberland counties. While those two most populous counties receive a little more than 40 percent of the state’s income, they accounted for more than 60 percent of all donations to both Democrats and Republicans.
But some candidates on each side broke the mold, particularly the publicly financed candidates on each side. Sweet raised about 60 percent of her initial cash outside of York and Cumberland counties, the most of any Democrat.
Mills of Farmington was second by that measure.
On the GOP side, Mason raised almost 90 percent of his initial cash outside York and Cumberland counties, the most of any Republican. Moody of Gorham raised the least outside those areas.
Democrat Mark Eves and Cote, both of York County, raised about 30 percent of their campaign cash outside York and Cumberland counties. They, along with Mills, lead fundraising on the Democratic side.
For traditionally financed candidates, the bulk of their cash heading into the primary came from individual contributions, except for Moody, who matched his contributions from individual and business donors with his own personal cash, propelling him to the top of the heap.
For Republicans, business donors also gave significantly, making up between 25 percent and 17 percent of each candidate’s campaign coffers.
The influence of personal money from Moody could weigh heavily in the Republican contest, as he competes with Mayhew to win over loyal supporters of outgoing Gov. Paul LePage.
Without Moody’s personal cash, Mayhew would lead the Republican fundraising effort.
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