AUGUSTA, Maine — The crowd of candidates vying to succeed Maine’s term-limited Gov. Paul LePage reported this week receiving at least $2.2 million in contributions ahead of the primary season.
Maine’s 2018 race for governor includes two dozen hopefuls who faced a Tuesday deadline for filing campaign finance reports.
Democratic Maine National Guard veteran Adam Cote and Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills reported receiving the largest amount of cash from donors: nearly $900,000 combined.
Republican Shawn Moody, an auto-body repair shop chain owner, and economic development consultant Alan Caron, who is running as an independent, had the most skin in the game, the campaign reports showed. Caron and his wife put up $250,000 in loans and Moody contributed $150,000.
University of Maine political science professor Mark Brewer said even early fundraising numbers can send a message to potential donors. Moody, he noted, entered the race in November, while other candidates who out-raised him announced earlier.
“If someone’s doing a bang-up job of raising money, in some ways that makes it easier to raise more money,” Brewer said. “Someone who hasn’t had a whole lot of success, that could be an indication they’re having a hard time generating enthusiasm among donors.”
Cote has raised more than half a million dollars, with about $167,000 coming from donors outside of Maine. Mills raised about $350,000 and her campaign says the average contribution was $178.
LePage, a Republican, can’t run for governor this year due to term limits. The governor’s daughter Lauren LePage, a lawyer, and Republican strategist Brent Littlefield, who ran LePage’s 2010 and 2014 bids, have announced they’re working for Moody’s campaign.
LePage’s former state Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, a former-Democrat-turned-Republican, raised just short of $200,000 for her 2018 gubernatorial primary bid. Other Republicans running for governor include Senate President Mike Thibodeau, Sen. Garrett Mason and Republican House Leader Ken Fredette.
Registered Democratic candidates include former Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves; progressive lobbyist Betsy Sweet; former Portland Rep. Diane Russell; state Sen. Mark Dion, former state Sen. James Boyle; former Bangor Mayor Sean Faircloth; former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion; Winterport resident Dominic Anthony Crocitto; retired U.S. Coast Guard Commander Patrick Eisenhart; former write-in gubernatorial candidate J. Martin Vachon and longtime teacher and Nordic ski coach Steve DeAngelis.
State Treasurer Terry Hayes is registered to run as an independent along with landscape business owner Ethan Alcorn, former GOP legislative candidate Ken Capron and John Jenkins, who served as mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn. Community organizer Betsy Marsano is running for governor for the Green Independent party.
A number of candidates, including Mason, Sweet and Hayes are hoping to run as publicly funded clean elections candidates. Each must raise 3,200 individual contributions of $5 or more by April 2 to potentially receive up to $1 million in public financing for a primary run.