AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Democrat Libby Mitchell has the most cash on hand as Maine's open race for governor, now down to five contestants, enters its final months, new campaign finance reports show.
Mitchell, who has the only campaign that's receiving public funding, had more than $506,000 in cash as of the close of the last reporting period July 13, according to her filing with the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.
Republican Paul LePage reported more than $260,000 in cash, while independent Eliot Cutler reported $67,000 in cash. The other two independents, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott, reported $353,000 and $3,170 in cash respectively.
The disparity in cash figures does not necessarily reflect the campaigns' potential to raise more funds as the Nov. 2 general election draws closer. Cutler has already spent more than $800,000 for the general election, figures show. The reports were due before midnight Tuesday.
"We have a very aggressive fundraising plan" that includes online as well as direct mail appeals, meet-and-greets and other public events, Cutler campaign spokesman Ted O'Meara said Wednesday. Campaign funding will be competitive with that of the two major-party candidates, O'Meara added.
LePage, the Waterville mayor, led the other privately funded candidates with $179,000 in donations during the most recent reporting period, which covered May 26 to July 13. He also has some high-profile fundraising events planned, including a coastal whistlestop run dubbed the "LePage Express" Saturday aboard the Maine Eastern Railroad. Donors riding in the coach will pay $100 per person, while those riding in the exclusive Parlor Car will pony up $750 for a seat.
Mitchell, the state Senate president whose campaign qualified for funding under the Maine Clean Election Act, will be limited to a maximum of $1.2 million for the general election no matter how much her rivals raise, according to the ethics commission. How much her campaign receives up to that amount depends on how much is the other candidates spend and how much independent advertising aimed at defeating her is spent.
Reports also give a complete picture of pre-primary spending. Republican Les Otten turned out to be the biggest spender in both gubernatorial primaries, putting $2.7 million — including a $2.2 million loan from himself — into the race. Otten finished second in GOP balloting even though he outspent LePage almost 20 to 1.
Among the other Republicans, Bruce Poliquin spent $1.4 million, including a large chunk of in-kind donations to his campaign. Peter Mills was the only Republican to qualify for public funding, $644,000. Steve Abbott spent about $460,000, Bill Beardsley spent $330,000 and Matt Jacobson $191,000, according to reports.
Among the Democrats, Steve Rowe spent about $530,000, Rosa Scarcelli spent $822,000 and Pat McGowan, who was publicly funded, spent $675,000.