The money is starting to flow to Maine’s 2018 gubernatorial candidates, led by a southern Maine Democrat who was an early entry to the field.
Adam Cote, a veteran and attorney from Springvale, received $249,779 in contributions for his primary campaign in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field. Cote also reported $10,000 in contributions to a potential general election campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Maine Ethics Commission on Monday.
On the Republican side, former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew reported raising $78,150 between June 6 – the day she declared her candidacy – and June 30. Much of that money appears to have been raised during a June 29 fundraiser for Mayhew, a South China resident who headed Maine DHHS for much of Gov. Paul LePage’s six-plus years in office.
The only other declared gubernatorial candidate to have filed a report by Monday evening, Libertarian candidate Richard Light, reported no contributions.
Maine’s political parties are gearing up for potentially contentious primary battles for those seeking to succeed LePage, who has been a polarizing figure in state politics.
Cote has been campaigning since mid-April and was among the first Blaine House hopefuls to declare his candidacy. But some bigger-name Democrats – including Attorney General Janet Mills and former House Speaker Mark Eves – have entered the race in recent weeks. Neither Mills nor Eves were required to file fundraising reports because their campaigns officially began after the reporting period ended on June 30.
“These numbers show that people all around the State of Maine want change and new leadership focused on building an economy that works for all of us,” Cote, a 20-year veteran of the Maine National Guard, said in a statement. “As a kid born and raised in Sanford, I am humbled by the support we are earning and enjoying every opportunity to meet and listen to Maine people at house parties, picnics, parades and events across the state.
Mayhew could not be reached for comment on Monday evening.
Additional Republican and Democratic candidates are expected to join the race in the coming months.
Mayhew, Cote, Mills and Eves, as well as Republican Deril Stubenrod of Clifton, are running traditional, privately financed campaigns. Several other declared candidates plan to use Maine’s public campaign financing system. Maine Clean Election Act candidates include: Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes of Buckfield, an independent; long-time progressive activist and lobbyist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell, a Democrat; retired Coast Guard commander and health care executive Patrick Eisenhart of Augusta, a Democrat; and Jay Parker Lunt Dresser of Bangor, a Green Independent.
Ballot question campaigns – both past and future – also reported their fundraising and spending activity on Monday.
The ballot question committee Mainers for Health Care reported $85,000 in contributions toward their referendum campaign to expand Medicaid in Maine. The bulk of that money, $75,000, came from The Fairness Project, a national organization involved in ballot questions on progressive issues.
The organization Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools received a $75,000 donation from the National Education Association. The political action committee spent more than $55,000 during the period, with much of that going to defend the 3 percent tax surcharge on wealthy Mainers that voters approved by voters last November. The Legislature ultimately rescinded the 3 percent surcharge but allocated an additional $162 million to public education as part of this month’s budget compromise.
The ballot question committee Horseracing Jobs Fairness, which is spearheading a controversial campaign to bring a casino to York County, reported an additional $7,000 donation from Lisa Scott but still had nearly $700,000 in cash on hand. A resident of Miami, Scott has bankrolled the roughly $5 million campaign so far and is the sister of international gambling entrepreneur Shawn Scott.