July 2, 2013

Michaud gets $300,000 for gubernatorial campaign

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has raised more than $300,000 since unofficially entering the 2014 race for governor a little more than two weeks ago.

click image to enlarge

In this May 2013 file photo, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud honored veterans, firefighters, police and emergency workers during a wreath-laying ceremony in Waterville. Michaud has raised more than $300,000 in donations since he announced a little more than two weeks ago that he is exploring a run for governor in 2014.

David Leaming / Waterville Sentinel

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Eliot Cutler is again running for governor.

2010 Press Herald File Photo

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Independent Eliot Cutler raised more than $430,000 in the past six months.

The size of Michaud's haul in such a short time is impressive and indicates Democrats' enthusiasm for him, said Ronald Schmidt, an associate professor of political science at the University of Southern Maine.

Michaud hasn't formally announced that he is running, saying only that he is exploring a run next year. But he has been raising money aggressively, and his strong fundraising backs up the widely held belief that he is the only Democrat who can raise enough money to compete with Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Cutler, who self-financed part of his campaign in 2010, when he finished a close second to LePage.

Michaud said in a prepared statement that more than 1,100 donors have contributed to his campaign.

LePage's campaign has not released fundraising totals, which will be made public when disclosure filings are due. Campaign finance reports must be filed with the state ethics commission by July 15.

LePage raised $1.4 million for his campaign in 2010 and was the top fundraiser in the general election.

Ted O'Meara, who managed Cutler's 2010 campaign, said this year's fundraising effort has exceeded its goals and Michaud's fundraising is not a threat. He said Cutler has raised nearly $200,000 since Michaud announced in mid-June that he is exploring a run for governor.

"We are very pleased where we are," he said.

The total does not include any money from Cutler himself, who gave about $1 million to his campaign in 2010. Cutler has been laying the groundwork for the 2014 election ever since then.

For a party candidate, the maximum contribution for each donor, including the primary and general elections, is $3,000.

The maximum donation to Cutler is $1,500 because he will not run in a primary election.

At this stage in the campaign, 16 months before the election, a candidate who raises a lot of cash can "knock out" potential opponents before they can get started, Schmidt said.

That's a message Michaud wants to send to the financial backers of potential opponents, including potential Democratic primary opponents and Cutler, Schmidt said.

Michaud's fundraising effort got a boost when Bonnie Porta of Cape Elizabeth decided to serve as his campaign treasurer. Porta and her husband, Robert C.S. Monks, helped raise money for Cutler in 2010.

Michaud, often described as a hesitant fundraiser, has not used emails and online solicitations as widely as other candidates have. He has also, on average, relied more on donations from political action committees for his congressional campaigns than other House members have.

Last week, Michaud acknowledged in an interview in Washington that he will have to step up his fundraising efforts for a gubernatorial campaign, but said he was impressed by the financial support he had received.

"It's always difficult asking people for money," Michaud said. "We haven't had a fundraiser yet. Right now, everything is people going online and donating. But, unfortunately, (fundraising) is part of the process. You have to raise money in order to have an effective campaign, so I definitely will have to be making some calls to ask people to donate to the campaign. I would much rather be out there in the field talking to people, seeing what is on their mind."

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