The leader of a political action committee dedicated to electing Eliot Cutler as Maine’s next governor has resigned.
Betsy Smith said Wednesday that she stepped down as director of Campaign for Maine on July 15.
“The PAC and I had different goals and strategies for how to run this political action committee,” Smith said. “My decision to leave the PAC has nothing whatsoever to do with Eliot. I still think he’s the best candidate. It has only to do with the PAC.”
Campaign for Maine was established in 2010, when Cutler made his first run for governor, finishing behind Republican Paul LePage and ahead of Democrat Elizabeth Mitchell. Campaign for Maine has raised $257,500 this year and had about $71,000 on hand as of July 15, according to the latest fundraising data reported to the state ethics commission. Most of the money was spent on television advertising time promoting Cutler.
“When it came to the point to decide what path are we going to go down … we had a difference of opinion,” Smith said.
Tom Saturley, the PAC’s chair, said Smith fulfilled her role, and he lauded her skills at running statewide campaigns. Smith was director of Equality Maine during the successful campaign in 2012 to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine. She left the organization in September 2013, after 14 years.
Although both Saturley and Smith declined to be specific about why Smith left, Saturley said Smith was instrumental in setting up the PAC’s operations.
“The PAC’s mission is fundraising, and not running a statewide campaign, which is what Betsy’s talent is all about,” Saturley said. “I think what she did was perfect for what we needed at the time we needed it. I don’t want to understate what she brought to us, from an organizational standpoint.”
Saturley said the organization has no plans to replace Smith, and he would not describe her departure as a loss.
“Its a victory. She accomplished the task and now we’re going forth with what she taught us and the path that she put us on.”
Cutler is struggling to find donors, as his campaign must compete with U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor, to recruit potential liberal donors.
So far this year, Cutler has loaned himself $980,000, nearly half of the roughly $2 million that he has raised in total.
During the 2010 election, Campaign for Maine raised about $533,000, and Cutler’s campaign brought in $2.4 million, $1.6 million of which was Cutler’s own money.
Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be reached at 791-6303, or at: