Last week, all of the candidates running for governor reported their latest campaign filings for the second half of 2017. So far the top fundraisers include Democrats Janet Mills and Adam Cote, Republicans Shawn Moody and Mary Mayhew and independent Alan Caron. However, it’s important to note that money doesn’t buy elections. If it did, Democrats would hold both chambers of the Legislature, since they vastly outspend Republicans in local elections every time.

It’s also worth noting that at this point during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign Republican businessman Les Otten was the leading fundraiser with over $660,000, followed by independent Eliot Cutler with over $266,000, Democrat Steve Rowe with $250,000, future Congressman Bruce Poliquin with over $190,000 and Matt Jacobson with $82,000. A longshot candidate named Paul LePage was trailing the pack with less than $60,000. The reports can also be misleading as some candidates had a head start in fundraising because they declared their candidacies earlier. But while money is no substitute for political prowess, finance reports do provide a glimpse into who is supporting the candidate, which tells a little bit about the candidate’s political leanings, as well as who might be angling for a job in the next administration. It also sends a messages to other big donors about who has the money momentum.

Traditionally Funded Democrats

Attorney General Janet Mills is leading the Democratic field with $350,000 raised in the last six months, more than $70,000 more than her closest rival. In a statement Mills noted that 99 percent of her contributions came from individuals, as opposed to PACs and corporations, and 85 percent of them came from Maine residents. Her average contribution was $178. Among Mills’ biggest donors are former Attorney General Drew Ketterer, personal injury attorney Joe Bornstein, author Tess Gerritsen, Ocean View at Falmouth founder Ohn Wasileski and former legislator Tom Davidson, founder of the education software start-up Everfi.

Mills has also received support from several local politicians as well as former Democratic legislators Joan Welsh (Rockport) and Lisa Miller (Somerville). Former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey, renowned foreclosure attorney Tom Cox and philanthropist Roxanne Quimby have also given to Mills.

Independent Alan Caron took in the next biggest haul, with $280,195, but $250,000 of it is his own money. Democrat Adam Cote raised over $277,500 in the last six months of the year and is leading all the other candidates, with a total of $527,306. Cote’s largest donors include investor Adam Moskovitz, Falmouth realtor Michael Banks, Kelly Dufour of the CPA firm Dufour Tax Group, Dexter Shoes heir William Alfond and Kevin Mattson of the financial advisory firm Dirigo Capital Advisors. A number of legislators have also given to Cote, including former Congressman Tom Allen as well as NAMI Maine Executive Director Jenna Mehnert, former Public Utilities Commissioner David Littell, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Quincy Hentzel and ReVision Energy founder Fortunat Mueller.

Former House Speaker Mark Eves has raised over $160,000, the next highest among Democrats. Eves reported that 90 percent of the donations came from Mainers. Not surprisingly, Eves has received a lot of support from legislators and Augusta operatives, including Rep. John Spear (D-So. Thomaston) and former Reps. Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston) and Joan Welsh (D-Rockport). Eves also received donations from Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, state auditor Pola Buckley, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry, former Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Director Guy Cousins and Lyman-Morse boatyard owners Cabot and Heidi Lyman.

Democratic candidate Diane Russell raised about $50,000 but has spent all but $5,000 and has $73,432 in unpaid campaign debt. Russell has proven to be an extremely effective online organizer, with $27,000 from donors in other states compared to $7,592 from Maine, and the rest listed as unitemized donations of $50 or less. Russell has also spent a considerable amount of her campaign time fundraising out of state, in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boston.



Former Democratic State Senator Jim Boyle raised about $134,000 during the last fundraising period, including $80,000 of his own money. A number of Democratic legislators and political figures have given to Boyle, including Pinny Beebe-Center (Rockland) and liberal activist Ben Chin. State Senator Mark Dion of Portland reported raising $14,346 from individuals along with some small donations from the pharmaceutical companies Zeneca and Merck Sharpe Dohme Corp., as well as energy, natural gas and offshore wind lobbyist Tony Buxton, power lobbyist Jim Mitchell, casino lobbyist Cheryl Timberlake and marijuana lobbyist Paul McCarrier.

Clean Elections Candidates

Under Maine’s Clean Elections program, gubernatorial candidates may qualify for up to $1 million in public campaign funds for the primary and $2 million for the general election, provided that they collect at least 3,200 individual contributions of $5 or more. Progressive insurgent Democrat Betsy Sweet has pulled in an impressive number of small contributions in her quest to qualify for public financing. So far, she has raised over $88,0000, with a total of 1,290 contributions of $100 or less. Sweet donors include former Congressman Tom Andrews, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections Director John Brautigam, Rep. Pinny Beebe Center (D-Rockland), former Baldacci administration health advisor Trish Riley, Lamey-Wellehan shoe store founder Jim Wellehan, Sen. Brownie Carson (D-Brunswick), former Rep. Lisa Miller (D-Somerville), former Maine Department of Labor Commissioner and current State Senate candidate Laura Fortman, and Rockland City Councilor Lisa Westkaemper.

State Treasurer Terry Hayes, an independent, has collected nearly $42,000 from 1,300 donors toward her Clean Elections campaign. The former Democrat has collected checks from a number of Republicans, including DiMillo’s restaurant owner Steve DiMillo, Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Wilton), former Rep. Les Fossel (R-Alna), former Rep. Dean Cray (R-Palmyra), former Rep. Windol Weaver (R-York), former Rep. Merdedith Strang Burgess (R-Cumberland), former Rep. Gary Knight (R-Livermore Falls) and Stacy Fitts (R-Pittsfield), as well as a number of independents — Rep. Owen Casas (I-Rockport), Rep. Kent Ackley (U-Monmouth), Rep. Denis Harlow (U-Portland) and Martin Grohman (U-Biddeford) — and Democrats, including former Rep. Lisa Miller, have given to the campaign. Other Hayes donors include former Eliot Cutler campaign operatives Ted O’Meara and Cara McCormick, as well as San Francisco businessman John Palmer, who supported the ranked-choice voting campaign, former Maine Education President Chris Galgay and the state treasurers from Indiana and New Mexico, Bill Dwyer and Tim Eichenberg.  

Senate Republican Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon is the only Republican to run under Clean Elections, and he has pulled in nearly $32,000 so far. Mason has a number of Republican donors, including former House Republican Leader Joe Bruno, Rep. Jeff Timberlake (R-Turner), Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing (R-Hampden), and former Maine Republican Party Chair Charlie Webster, as well as Rep. Owen Casas (I-Rockport). Mason has also taken money from  Lisa Nelson, CEO of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate front group that writes bills for conservative legislators. Central Maine Power lobbyist Joel Harrington, corporate lobbyist Ann Robinson, Home Depot lobbyist Matt Benedetti, and for-profit charter school lobbyist Don Lee, who works for the for-profit online school company K12 Inc., have also given money to the Mason campaign. And Joseph Horvath of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, a Connecticut-based right-wing think tank, has also given to Mason.

The Traditionally Funded Republicans

With $286,000, autobody shop magnate Shawn Moody is leading fundraising among Republicans, although $150,000 of that is his own money. Much of Moody’s donations come from southern Maine family-owned businesses — construction companies, real estate interests, developers, trucking, logging and car dealers. For example, top Moody donors include Crooker Construction, Dayton Sand and Gravel, Delta Realty, Gorham Fence, Risbara Construction, Troiano Waste Services, Upscale Consignment Furniture, Dunbar Water Pumps and Filters, Shaw Brothers Construction, and Pleasant River Lumber, among many others.

Former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew came in second, with nearly $120,000 raised in the last period. In a statement, Mayhew noted that her donors come from 133 Maine towns and she has had endorsements from 31 state legislators. A former lobbyist for the Maine Hospital Association, Mayhew has often fought with hospitals over proposals to slash Medicaid, but that hasn’t stopped Maine Hospital Association President Steven Michaud and Maine Medical Center CEO Richard Petersen from contributing the maximum $1,600 primary donation to her campaign. Last year, banker Jonathan Bush, brother of former President George H.W. Bush, and his wife Josephine held a fundraiser for Mayhew on North Haven and gave her the maximum contribution. Mayhew has also received maximum donations from DLTC Healthcare in Rockland, Mathews Brothers in Belfast, Lucas Tree President Arthur Baston and the National Worksite Benefit Group. Money to Mayhew from politicians and political operatives includes donations from DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton, Rep. Paula Sutton (R-Warren), Florida conservative operative Roy Lenardson and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Morris.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo Cty) is reporting a respectable haul of over $100,000, with 99 percent of that coming from Maine donors. Thibodeau’s biggest donors include Lincolnville Communications, Bangor-based Varney Agency, Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta) and Hamilton Marine. Thibodeau also received donations from Renys President John Reny, Waldo County Commissioner Bill Shorey, former state senator Chris Rector, VSTV co-founder Alan Hinsey, Unitil, Quirk Auto and Pike Industries.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette is reporting just over $14,000. Fredette has so far received a considerable amount of money from marijuana caregivers, but it remains to be seen whether he will catch fire in the crowded field of Republicans. And finally, Green Independent Betsy Marsano has raised just over $1,000, Democrat Patrick Eisenhart has $750, and recently declared Democratic candidate Sean Faircloth has brought in $640.