The Political Grind

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And they’re coming around the final turn, headed into the home stretch — Maine’s most wide open gubernatorial race in years is less than two weeks away from narrowing the field of 14 to at least five.

At least five? In addition to the one Democrat and one Republican who will be on the ticket, at least three Independent candidates have made the ballot.

The final pre-primary campaign finance reports were due last Friday. From here on out candidates are required to file reports within 24 hours of major collecting or spending activity.

Friday’s reports do give us some eye-opening news.

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For the Republicans, the story is still about Les Otten, who continues to spend at a furious pace. He loaned his campaign nearly $1 million in this reporting period. So far, he’s loaned himself about $2.2 million and spent about $2.3 million. Though, according to his latest filings, he appears to have spent about $50,000 more than his campaign had to spend, so he may have to dig further down in his deep pockets before this is over.

 Paul LePage raised $59,000 during this reporting period and has raised $165,000 in cash contributions overall. He has loaned himself $111,000, and if he wants to remain whole, that means he only has about $11,000 left to spend, plus however much else he raises.

Steve Abbott, who just earned the primary endorsement of the Maine Today Media newspapers on Sunday, loaned his campaign about $87,000, beginning on May 16. Previously, Abbott had not donated or loaned any money to his campaign. Abbott’s campaign has $98,000 in cash right now, though like LePage, if he was concerned about paying himself back, he would only have $12,000 at his disposal, plus whatever he raises from here to the finish line.

For the Democrats, the news lies with Rosa Scarcelli. She loaned her campaign about $230,000 during the reporting period and about $256,000 to her campaign overall. But she’s spent most of it, leaving her with about $3,000 in cash. Her increased spending means more public financing for Pat McGowan and Libby Mitchell, who, as Clean Elections candidates, will receive matching funds.

While most of the focus is justifiably on the major party candidates because they face a June 8 primary vote, there are waves being made by the Independent candidates. Shawn Moody, owner of Moody’s Collision Centers, loaned his campaign $500,000 on April 21, although he has raised no private donations.

On the Republican side, Abbott and LePage are well-poised to make a final push if they are willing to say goodbye to the personal money they both loaned their campaigns. Poliquin and Otten, who have already demonstrated their willingness to part with their personal cash, are also ready to flood the airwaves. Mills, thanks to his public funding, is also in a good financial position. Jacobson and Beardsley could be down for the count, at least financially.

For the Democrats, the money advantage at this point goes to Scarcelli, who is obviously using some serious personal resources to blitz the airwaves. But will it be enough to vault her over a poorly received convention performance? Rowe looks to be out of financial juice and the question for him is whether he gained enough serious momentum after a positive convention showing. Mitchell and McGowan are treading water money-wise, thanks to their public financing. Depending on how Scarcelli’s advertising campaign goes, they may need to make sure they have enough to rebut any potential attack.

For a more detailed report, visit www.sunjournal.com/politicalgrind.

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