Candidates in the race to succeed Gov. Paul LePage have spent just over $4.2 million, with a week to go until Democrats and Republicans make their respective choices in the June 12 primaries.

Collectively, the 11 primary candidates were still sitting on more than $570,000 as of Monday, with Democrat Adam Cote boasting the largest pre-primary war chest of $159,099. Republican Shawn Moody was close behind with a cash balance of nearly $120,000.

Behind Cote and Moody is Democrat Betsy Sweet, a publicly financed candidate under Maine’s Clean Election Act, with $96,243 on hand. She is followed by the traditionally financed Democratic candidate and former Speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves, who had about $80,000 in the bank.

Cote, with nearly $812,000 in expenses, had spent more than any other candidate in the race as of Monday, while Sweet appeared to be catching up with roughly $701,000 in expenses. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, state Sen. Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls, a Republican, and Moody rounded out the top five spenders.

In 2010, the last time Maine had an open race for the governor’s office, the top three candidates combined to spend $5.1 million for the entire election cycle. That number was dwarfed in 2014, when the top three contenders combined to spend $9.5 million.

In 2014, campaign and independent expenditures by political action committees supporting or opposing candidates for governor exceeded $20 million. The spending rate so far is putting the 2018 election on pace to set a new record.

The candidates’ reported cash balances and spending will fluctuate daily until the primary, because campaigns are now required to update their donations and expenses exceeding $1,000 within 24 hours.

The amount of cash left in a campaign in the final days before the election can be an important indicator of who can afford to make last-minute appeals to voters or further their message with paid advertising, phone calls and canvassing. But donations and spending do not always indicate who will win the election.

In 2014, for example, the incumbent LePage was outspent by more than $1 million by each of his two general election rivals. He still won the election with 48 percent of the vote. In his first campaign in 2010, LePage also was outspent by his top rivals in the Republican primary, yet he still handily secured the party’s nomination with more than 37 percent of the vote in a seven-way race.

The most recent reports filed Monday with the Maine Ethics Commission show that Moody, a Gorham businessman, had about $120,000 in cash on hand, three times as much as his nearest privately financed rival, Mary Mayhew, LePage’s former commissioner of the Maine Department Health and Human Services.

She reported $53,844 in cash on hand at the end the current campaign finance reporting period on May 29. But as of Monday, based on the latest 24-hour reports, Mayhew’s balance had shrunk to $36,151.

Mason is a publicly financed candidate under Maine’s Clean Election Act. He was sitting on the second largest amount of cash among Republicans in the race. He had $46,227 on hand and had spent the fourth most among all candidates, with over $690,000in expenditures.

Mills had spent over $691,000 – the third most among Democrats and the third most of any candidate in the race.

Rounding out the primary field for Democrats were state Sen. Mark Dion, a former Cumberland County sheriff, who has spent just over $40,000 on the race and was showing about $1,500 cash on hand, while former state Rep. Diane Russell was reporting $1,300 cash on hand after having spent $68,716.

Russell also was the only candidate still reporting substantial campaign debt of about $77,000. Former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion had the least cash on hand of any of the candidates in the race with $387.

Republican House Minority Leader Ken Fredette had the least cash on hand of any of the Republicans in the race with $1,212 as of Monday. Fredette reported spending just over $23,000 on the race to date.


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