AUGUSTA — One Maine gubernatorial hopeful and 220 legislative candidates who are counting on public campaign funds are in limbo.

State lawmakers argued Thursday over fixing a mistake preventing the release of the money.

Lawmakers continued trying to hash out a deal that could satisfy House Republicans who are ideologically opposed to public campaign funding. Such a fix could return some of the money to Maine’s general fund.

“The concern is the state is going to change the rules of the election for 200 legislative candidates and one gubernatorial candidate in the middle of an election year,” said Jonathan Wayne, executive director of Maine’s governmental ethics commission.

Last year, lawmakers passed a budget that transferred $3 million to Maine’s fund for publicly financed candidates by June 1, 2018.

But months ago, lawmakers discovered a mistake in the budget’s wording that now effectively prevents Maine’s ethics commission from releasing its public campaign funds after July 1.

State data show that 40 of 138 Republicans running for the House this year plan to use public campaign funds.

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