While all three gubernatorial candidates posted strong fundraising numbers during the recent campaign filing period, Republican incumbent Paul LePage and U.S. Rep Mike Michaud have much more money left to spend than independent Eliot Cutler as the race enters the home stretch.
Democrat Michaud raised more than $430,000 in contributions and in-kind donations during the most recent period, bringing his campaign total to $2.4 million, according to a statement from his campaign Tuesday. In the all-important cash on hand category, Michaud had just over $1 million left.
LePage brought in $393,000 during the 42-day pre-general period from July 16 through Sept. 16, but trails his opponents with a total of $1.6 million raised toward his reelection bid. He has nearly $1 million in cash left.
Cutler, meanwhile, raised the most during the recent cycle – $530,000 – although $100,000 of that was a loan. To date, Cutler has raised $2.7 million, but $1 million of it has come from the candidate himself. He reported having $380,000 in cash on hand Tuesday.
The Michaud campaign said its financial support has been broad – more than 10,000 unique donors have given.
“The grassroots, small-dollar support we continue to receive from all across Maine is incredible,” Michaud said in a statement. “Not only do we continue to surpass our fundraising goals, we continue be gain thousands of new donors – Democrats, Republicans and independents alike – who are willing to give whatever they can to ensure that there is new leadership in Augusta that will move Maine forward, create jobs and grow Maine’s middle class.”
Cutler led the way in spending, with $663,000 committed from July 16 to Sept. 16, and $2.2 million to date.
Michaud spent $443,000 this period and $1.3 million to date.
LePage has spent $646,000 the entire campaign, but nearly half of it – $319,000 – in the last two months.
LePage didn’t comment on the latest filing, but campaign spokesman Alex Willette took the opportunity to assail Michaud’s spending.
“Congressman Michaud’s campaign spending reflects his habits in Washington, spending campaign cash almost as fast as the nearly 300 percent increase in the national debt that has occurred during his tenure in Congress,” Willette said.
Cutler’s campaign says the robust fundraising shows the independent is gaining momentum.
“This finance report coupled, with recently released poll numbers showing Eliot climbing steadily at 19 percent, shows that we are surging just at the right time,” campaign spokeswoman Crystal Canney said. “Our fundraising, just like every other aspect of the campaign, is way ahead of where Eliot was at this point in 2010, and Eliot is emerging as the one candidate in this race who can bring Maine people together.”
Cutler narrowly lost to Le-Page in 2010 in another three-way race.
The financial snapshot of each campaign comes with only six weeks remaining until Election Day. Candidates often spend more late in their campaigns, much of it on television advertising, which is the most expensive form of campaign speech.
The total amount raised by candidates has increased substantially since 2010.
In 2009, the individual limit was $750 for the primary and $750 for the general election. Those limits doubled in 2011.
More recently, a court decision in a lawsuit filed by Cutler supporters concluded that all candidates should be able to receive a maximum of $3,000, instead of $1,500 for a primary election and $1,500 for a general election. As an independent, Cutler couldn’t have collected donations for a primary race.
In addition to the money raised and spent by the campaigns, political action committees, which are not subject to any limits, have been heavily involved in the 2014 governor’s race.
Those groups are likely to continue flooding money into Maine through October and they are much more likely to benefit the major party candidates.
Cutler does have a PAC, Campaign for Maine, supporting him, but it has been relatively inactive.
Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or: