An at-large race for an open seat on the Portland City Council is drawing the most interest from campaign donors but is falling far short of the funds raised during last year’s contest for an at-large council seat.
Meanwhile, proponents of a Portland ballot measure to legalize marijuana have spent more than $10,000 on an initiative that faces no noticeable opposition. If passed, the ordinance would remove all criminal penalties for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adults age 21 and over.
Portland’s campaign fundraising totals pale in comparison to the battle being waged across the Fore River in South Portland over an ordinance aimed at prohibiting the expansion of oil terminals to handle tar sands oil. Opponents of that proposal have spent $600,000, while supporters have spent just over $100,000.
The most expensive council race in Portland this fall features Jon Hinck, a 59-year-old lawyer who has served three terms as a state representative, and Wellington “Wells” Lyons, a 31-year-old co-owner and in-house attorney for Rogue Industries. The two men are competing for the seat being vacated by Councilor John Anton. It is the only council race without an incumbent.
According to campaign finance reports filed Friday, Hinck has outraised and outspent Lyons by a roughly two-to-one margin from the beginning of the campaign through Oct. 22.
Hinck raised $6,187 and spent $3,666 compared to Lyons, who raised $3,278 and spent $1,149. Hinck had $2,520 left to spend in the final days of the campaign, while Lyons had $2,129 in his campaign war chest.
The totals are in sharp contrast to last year’s campaign for another at-large seat. Lyons raised $14,000 in an unsuccessful effort to unseat longtime Councilor Nicholas Mavodones.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol raised $13,753, primarily through in-kind donations of staff time from the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project.
The total includes $11,062 in staff time and $2,325 on the controversial ads on Metro buses and shelters, as well as $326 on stock photos for ads showing people explaining why they prefer marijuana over alcohol.
At the beginning of the campaign, the Marijuana Policy Project’s Maine political director, David Boyer, said the national advocacy group was prepared to spend whatever it takes on the Portland initiative, but he predicted the ballot measure already enjoyed broad support among city voters.
A March poll by the Pew Research Center showed that 52 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization and a recent Gallup poll showed that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana for the first time ever. Support is believed to be even stronger in states such as Maine that allow medicinal uses of marijuana.
“With the recent Gallup poll showing that 58 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legal, we think that the majority of Portland voters also agree and will vote to end marijuana prohibition on November 5,” Boyer said.
The Portland Green Independent Party, which collected the signatures to put the ballot measure to voters, is paying for a website and campaign literature. However, their support totals less than the $5,000 that would require the group to file a campaign report.
There is no organized opposition to the ballot initiative.
Two City Council races that feature an incumbent running for re-election appear to have generated little campaign fundraising and spending.
In the District 3 race, incumbent Edward Suslovic reported no fundraising or expenses. His opponent, Gregory Blouin, missed Friday’s deadline.
In a three-way race for the four-year at-large seat, incumbent Jill Duson has raised $2,710 compared to challenger Gregory Smaha’s $1,300. The third candidate in that race, Christopher Shorr, did not file his campaign finance report prior to the Oct. 25 deadline.
Duson’s campaign is being supported by people with a background in Portland politics, including former councilors and mayors Karen Geraghty ($100), George Campbell ($250) and James Cohen ($100).
David Farmer, the communications manager and a policy adviser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, and Mavodones each donated $150 to Duson.
Smaha’s fundraising total includes $400 donated by the Portland Republican City Committee.
The finance reports in the Hinck-Lyons race highlight Portland’s political allegiances.
While Duson has said she was not endorsing a candidate in the Lyons-Hinck match-up, her campaign contributed a nominal amount ($32) in in-kind contributions to Hinck, who said the contribution was information about Portland voters.
That in-kind contribution came two weeks after Lyons donated $100 to Duson’s campaign.
Hinck, meanwhile, leads the way in donations from the legal, real estate and energy industries.
Kurt Adams, who works in electricity development for First Wind, the Boston-based wind company poised to start construction on a $400 million wind farm in Oakfield, donated $500 to Hinck.
Gregory Boulos, of CB Richard Ellis/The Boulos Co., gave Hinck $500, as did Alfred Padula, a retiree who has worked to make Portland schools and other public buildings more energy-efficient.
Other major donors to the Hinck campaign include $750 from David Johnson, who works in public relations, and $400 from Stephen Woods, president and chief executive officer of Yarmouth-based TideSmart.
Lyons, meanwhile, has donated $1,053 to his own campaign. Cynthia Dill, an attorney, former state senator and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, donated $25.
Other major donations to Lyons include $250 from Peaks Island statistician Timothy Wyant, $500 from David Lacasse, an engineer, and $750 from Standish-based Tower Publishing.
Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: