AUGUSTA, Maine — Candidates hoping to succeed term-limited, Republican Gov. Paul LePage have reported more than $2 million in campaign contributions this year as Mainers prepare for an onslaught of political ads ahead of the primary.
Voters in June will select which Democrats and Republicans will vie for governor, state Senate and House this fall.
Republicans say they will continue to build upon LePage’s era of fiscal conservatism, while Democrats have railed against his policies they say have hurt Maine’s most vulnerable. University of Maine at Farmington professor James Melcher said it is remarkable how little ideological difference there appears to be among major party candidates.
“To some extent, the general election for governor will be: ‘What do you think of the eight years of Gov. LePage?’” he said.
National Democratic groups have targeted Maine as a place where their party could win more influence this November. Democratic committees in the state have reported receiving $125,500 from a national Democratic committee working to win more legislative seats across the country. The Democratic Governors Association has reported contributing $22,500 to the Maine Democratic Party.
So far, the candidates leading their parties in terms of fundraising are Democratic candidate and veteran Adam Cote and Republican auto-body repair shop chain owner Shawn Moody. Both report campaign war chests of more than $400,000 as of April 24.
Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, a longtime foe of LePage, has raised more than a half million dollars for her campaign and reports a war chest of roughly half that amount weeks before the primary.
Publicly funded candidates, Democratic lobbyist Betsy Sweet and Republican Sen. Garrett Mason, have reported receiving $400,000 apiece. State treasurer Terry Hayes, an independent, has reported receiving nearly $200,000 in such public funds.
Independent gubernatorial candidate and consultant Alan Caron has loaned $200,000 to his own campaign. Republican House Leader and gubernatorial candidate Ken Fredette reports having about $3,000 on hand.
Former Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves and former state Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, who is running as a Republican, both report having roughly $80,000 ahead of the primary.