AUGUSTA — Proving he has a fair amount of grassroots support for his gubernatorial bid, Sen. Garrett Mason became the first candidate seeking the state’s top job to submit enough signatures to qualify for Maine Clean Election funding.
The Lisbon Republican on Wednesday submitted the names of more than 3,200 Mainers who donated $5 to his campaign, a step that unlocks $400,000 in state funding for his race.
Mason is the only Republican candidate taking the Clean Election route. His competitors, including businessman Shawn Moody and Senate President Michael Thibodeau, are raising money traditionally through private donations.
Mason was already the first candidate to qualify for a spot on the June 12 primary battle.
“Our campaign has been able to build a large, statewide grass-roots organization that continues to reach our goals in record time,” Mason said Wednesday.
Mason said his campaign “has spent the past four months going from one home to another asking voters to place their trust in me with a $5 qualifying contribution.”
Earlier this month, Mason said he opted for “the clean path” rather than the traditional one because he thought it would work best for him.
“I am not in this to make a statement,” Mason said.
He said every candidate has to “consider all the options” for funding and then proceed in the directions that seems most likely to prove successful.
He said one of the reasons he preferred the Clean Election route is that it “forces you to form an organization” and build a solid, wide base that can help carry a contender through a primary.
Though Mason said he is “limited to a very small fraction” of the money his challengers can raise from a single donor, he is counting on pulling in enough support to be competitive financially while also establishing a broad group of people who can vote for him in June.
Look at his donations, Mason said, and it’s clear that he has backing “from all over the state.”
Among the other candidates, only a few are seeking Clean Election money.
Two of the leading Democrats are seeking to qualify, Betsy Sweet and Sean Faircloth. Independent Terry Hayes, the state treasurer, is also a Clean Election candidate.
Faircloth said recently that if he can’t find 3,200 people willing to donate, then “we’re toast” anyway.
In addition to the $5 donations he collected, Mason’s “seed money” report shows he also raised more than $36,000 from more then 500 individual donations of $100 or less.
Sen. Garrett Mason, a Lisbon Republican for governor. (File photo)