LEWISTON — If his political opponents didn’t take him seriously before, mayoral candidate Ben Chin thinks they will now, with his election war chest filled to the brim.

Chin and his campaign filed a campaign finance report with the city clerk Monday detailing fundraising and spending through June 30 for his bid to unseat Mayor Robert Macdonald.

According to the report, Chin raised $33,733 in donations from around Maine and the country between March and June 30. He spent an estimated $17,352 during that time, much of it for campaign mailings and office supplies.

It shows his campaign is the real deal, he said.

“In the early money, I think I was underestimated,” Chin said. “I’m young but I know how to raise money. I’m a serious candidate, and people didn’t realize that. Hopefully, they do now.”

Chin’s fundraising looks to dwarf all other city races. All candidates in Lewiston and Auburn combined raised $19,468 for the 2013 election. That included $3,500 in donations for Macdonald’s 2013 mayoral campaign and the $3,300 raised by his opponent, Larry Gilbert.


Chin is one of five candidates seeking to replace Macdonald. Chin, former City Councilor Stephen Morgan and Charles Soule have all confirmed spots on the Nov. 3 ballot. Local landlord Stan Pelletier and Luke Jensen are collecting signatures to win spots also.

“Win or lose, the main thing I want to do is have a really big conversation about our future,” Chin said. “I want to really take in the input from the almost 40,000 who live in Lewiston.”

City Clerk Kathy Montejo said Chin is the only city candidate that had to file a report so early, since he began his campaign in March. All candidates will have to report the donations they received and money they’ve spent on Oct. 23 — 11 days before the election. A final report detailing all spending is due 42 days after the election, on Dec. 15.

According to the report filed with the city clerk Monday, Chin received 275 donations ranging from $1 to $750.

Of the 275 donations, 57 came from people listing Lewiston ZIP codes, 21 came from Auburn and 40 came from Portland. The rest of Maine, from Tenants Harbor to Kittery, made another 90 donations.

Maine donors contributed the most — $24,234. Lewiston donors topped that list, at $5,351. Portland donors gave the second most, $4,637, followed by Auburn donors at $2,950.


Chin picked up 19 donations from New York totaling $4,850, 10 from California totaling $1,155 and seven from Washington, D.C., for $1,046. He also picked up donations from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado and Washington state.

“Like any good mayor, you have to leverage your personal networks to raise resources and that’s exactly what we did,” said Chin, who works as communications manager for the Maine People’s Alliance. “We have a pretty big email list, we’ve done a lot on social media and we’ve talked to a lot of people.”

Chin said his biggest expense so far has been mailing a survey to most Lewiston residents asking them to grade city services. He said he plans to release the results of that survey soon.

“We are working on compiling it right now,” he said. “We list city services, everything from police and fire to roads and schools and code enforcement, and give people an opportunity to grade them on an A through F scale.”

Mailing that survey accounted for $6,405 of his total spending. He paid $7,708 to the Maine People’s Alliance for office supplies, equipment and consultant services, according to the report.

Macdonald said Tuesday he does not intend to try to match Chin.

“All the people who gave him money, they can’t all vote for him,” Macdonald said. “I’m hoping the people of Lewiston, when they see all this money, will see what’s going on. This is just a local race; even the state Senate races don’t spend that much.”

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