The latest campaign finance reports from the mayoral candidates in both cities show very different approaches to the race, but overall spending is fairly even among them.
Of the seven candidates running in the two cities, three campaigns are taking donations, three are self-funded and one filed for an exemption declaring no contributions or expenses.
Candidates have also used the reports, and the identities of individual donors, to interject the merger issue into the discussion, which has become a focal point among voters.
Each candidate was required to submit a report, which details the period between July 1 and Oct. 24, by Friday, Oct. 27, just 11 days before the election on Nov. 7. Here’s a breakdown:
In Lewiston, Ben Chin outspent all other candidates, spending $10,384 while raising $4,770 during the same quarter. He also rolled over about $14,221 from his previous campaign in 2015.
During an interview at the start of his 2017 campaign, Chin said he had a few regrets from the 2015 election. One of them, he said, was he wished his campaign had done a better job of talking about the unexpected financial support he received.
Chin’s 2015 campaign managed to raise a staggering $90,000 in donations, including funds received prior to the runoff election, with $10,000 coming from within Lewiston.
For this campaign, Chin capped individual contributions to $100. These include a number of $100 and $50 contributions, and 26 donations of under $50. His expenditures have been mostly for campaign signs and roughly half was spent on a “canvass outreach” by the Maine People’s Alliance.
“We’re proud of the amount of support we’ve seen, with people from all walks of life making small contributions,” Chin said of this year’s campaign. “It’s exactly the kind of grass-roots collaboration I want to promote in Lewiston.”
Shane Bouchard, who is self-funding his campaign, reported expenditures of $4,351, mostly for campaign signs and advertisements.
Bouchard criticized his opponents in Lewiston during an anti-merger rally earlier this week, saying Cayer had received considerable funding from One LA, the pro-merger campaign.
On his Facebook page, he wrote: “As expected, I have opponents with large donations from outsiders, as well as the small group of elites trying to push the merger and other bad ideas on us. I have financed 100 percent of my own campaign. A true grassroots effort for the people of Lewiston.”
Two of Cayer’s largest donations were $800 from Tom Platz, of Platz Associates, and another $800 from Sno Jam LLC, which shows the same address as Platz Associates. Platz has been a major donor to One LA, but he also gave the maximum donation of $100 to Chin. Cayer also received a combined $1,250 from Gene and Peter Geiger.
However, many of Cayer’s other contributions have been smaller donations from a number of residents, friends and family, and he managed to out-raise all other candidates, raising $9,642 during the period, and spending $4,283.
Most of Cayer’s expenses went toward his website, campaign signs and advertisements.
“I am proud that local citizens, professionals and blue-collar workers, along with business leaders believe my vision and economic development platform will move Lewiston forward in a sustainable way,” he said.
Cayer also addressed Bouchard’s comments on merger supporters, saying he’s received contributions from people on both sides of the issue.
“Bouchard’s false narrative is not based on the facts of my report and is yet again another deflection of his campaign and an attempt to bring divisive, big-city politics to Lewiston with the only goal of winning at all cost,” he said.
According to City Clerk Kathy Montejo, Ron Potvin filed an exemption from financial reporting in September. By submitting it, Potvin declared that he’s not accepting any campaign contributions and isn’t incurring any expenditures for his campaign.
Charles Soule’s report showed that he spent $28 on two expenses: markers and a Facebook ad.
In Auburn, Adam Lee has outspent rival Jason Levesque by more than double, but as Bouchard in Lewiston has done, Levesque has self-funded his campaign.
Lee, a lawyer, raised $8,641 from more than 45 individual donations during the period. His expenditures of $6,073 were mostly on print, radio and social media ads, campaign signs and T-shirts.
Levesque is owner of Argo Marketing in Lewiston, and has recorded five expenditures during the campaign, totaling $3,366. The expenses include Facebook ads, postcards, lawn signs and radio ads.
Following the financial filings Friday, Levesque criticized Lee for his campaign contributions that have come from pro-merger advocates.
“We can only assume that this group of citizens is ‘hedging’ their bets with the hope that if the merger fails at the polls that Adam Lee will keep the issue alive and work at furthering efforts to merge the two cities during his term as mayor,” Levesque said in an email.
While Lee’s contributions averaged $50 or $100, the largest were $800 from Tom Platz and $800 from Carl Sheline, office manager for Center Street Dental and campaign chairman for One LA.
Lee also received contributions from other people involved in both merger campaigns, including Chip Morrison and Gene Geiger of the Joint Charter Commission, and a $200 gift from Jim Howaniec, chairman of the Coalition Opposed to Lewiston-Auburn Consolidation.
In response to Levesque’s comments Friday, Lee said that “it’s the duty of elected officials to respect the will of the voters,” and that he would not support any future action to consolidate the cities.
“I have received contributions from nearly 50 different individuals, many of whom have already voted against, or will vote against consolidation, including (Howaniec),” Lee said.
“They seem to recognize what my opponent cannot,” he said. “Regardless of the outcome of the consolidation vote, it is essential to elect good leaders whose commitment to public service is unconditional.”
The next financial reports are due Dec. 19, and will cover the period between Oct. 25 and Dec. 12. They likely won’t show much activity, unless there is a runoff election in Lewiston.
City of Auburn seal
Campaign finances from July 1 – Oct. 24:
Cash contributions: $4,351
Cash contributions: $9,642
Cash contributions: $4,770
Cash contributions: $0
Cash contributions: $28
Cash contributions: $8,641
Cash contributions: $3,366