Michael withdraws from governor’s race

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LEWISTON – Independent gubernatorial candidate John Michael of Auburn has withdrawn his appeal of a ruling denying him Maine Clean Election financing. And, he has withdrawn from the gubernatorial race.

In making the announcement by news release, Michael said he and his attorney, Steve Whiting of Portland, factored in the poor likelihood that he would receive public financing, which may be limited to $400,000, and “Neither of us feels that the cost, energy and time required to mount a superior court and, possibly, a high-court challenge is an investment that is likely to make a difference.”

Michael was denied access to as much as $1.2 million in Clean Election Funds in early July after the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices staff found his $5 qualifying contributions deficient, including missing deadlines for submitting materials and submitting more than 180 contributions from people who aren’t registered voters. Other material, according to the commission, was incomplete or missing.

Michael appealed that decision and, according to Paul Lavin, executive director of the ethics commission, the staff was working with Michael and his attorney to set two consecutive days for the hearing next month.

Friday, according to Lavin, the commission received an e-mail from Whiting “stating that Mr. Michael had decided to withdraw his appeal.”

Hours later, in a news release, Michael explained that, “Because it is unlikely that I will remain in the race as a privately funded candidate, I feel it is only fair to the public, the various issues groups and the press that I suspend campaign activity at this time.”

According to a campaign finance report filed by Michael on July 25, he has received $14,000 in cash contributions as of that date, with payments of $12,633. That left him a cash balance of $1,371 as of July 25.

By comparison, Gov. John Baldacci, who is also running his campaign using private financing, registered a cash balance in the July 25 report of $11,144, with contributions of $728,518 and expenditures of $717,313 as of that date.

According to Michael’s seed money campaign report filed in June, he received 94 cash donations of $100 each, plus other donations to equal $10,000.67. The largest donation of $200 was received from Angelo and Carmen Paparella in El Segunda, Calif.

The largest expenditure of seed money was made to Stavros Mendros, in the amount of $2,570 for “petitioning and fundraising.”

Other expenditures were, in order, $750 paid to the Maine Grass Roots Coalition, $506.80 to America West and $214.60 to Jet Blue. The remaining expenditures were largely for postage and office supplies.

Michael’s departure from the gubernatorial race leaves Baldacci facing publicly funded challengers Republican Chandler Woodcock, Green Independent Pat LaMarche and independent Barbara Merrill, and privately funded independents Phillip NaPier and David John Jones.

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