LePage’s campaign war chest called worst in the country; Poliquin attacks Cain for Approps vote

Bangor Daily News/Troy R. Bennett

Bangor Daily News/Troy R. Bennett

Gov. Paul LePage could be in the worst financial shape of any Republican governor vying for re-election, according to an analysis by Politico, though LePage’s campaign has insisted since 2009 that he doesn’t need to spend big to win.

The money in GOP governors’ campaign accounts varies widely across the U.S. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, for example, has $7.9 million on hand and in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder — whose personal wealth allowed him to write checks worth some $6 million for his campaign in 2010 — has banked more than $5 million. In both of those cases, Democratic candidates are far behind.

Here in Maine, the 2014 governor’s race promises to be a multi-million-dollar affair between LePage, Democrat Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler. There’s still a lot of time left in the campaign and a lot can change, but at this early date one of the only ways to gauge how the candidates are doing is to look at their fundraising totals.

As of the most recent filing deadline at the end of 2013, Michaud had raised slightly more than $1 million, compared to about $945,000 for Cutler and $719,000 for LePage.

Those numbers reflect the past. For the present and future, the candidates’ cash-on-hand totals are perhaps more telling. LePage is in comparatively better shape on that front. As of Dec. 31, LePage had $573,000 on hand compared to $612,000 for Michaud and $206,000 for Cutler, who loaned his own campaign $200,000 two weeks before the filing deadline after previously contributing nearly $66,000.

LePage’s senior political consultant, Brent Littlefield, has long downplayed the importance of money for the LePage campaign, which was outspent by both Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell in 2010. He said via email on Tuesday that he hadn’t read the Politico piece but spun questions from the BDN into a political statement against Michaud.

“Governor LePage is fiscally conservative with the taxpayers’ money and in his campaign, just like he was in his business career at Marden’s,” wrote Littlefield. “What is clear for Michael Michaud is that, just like his thirty-year liberal political career supporting taxes and debt, his campaign has a spending problem.”

For the record, Michaud, Cutler and lots of Democrats have been shouting from the mountaintops that LePage has not been fiscally responsible in some regards, including giving a nearly $1 million no-bid contract for a study about expanding Medicaid in Maine to the Alexander Group and then concealing the first phases of the report for weeks.

Poliquin stays on the attack, this time against Cain

Bangor Daily News/Troy R. Bennett

Bangor Daily News/Troy R. Bennett

Republican Bruce Poliquin, who is vying for his party’s nomination for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Michaud, came out swinging last Friday against fellow Republican Kevin Raye, whom he opposes in the primary. To be fair, Poliquin’s attack on Raye was in response to Raye labeling Poliquin as someone whose campaigns depend on Poliquin’s personal wealth.

On Monday evening, Poliquin was the one trying to paint Cain into a corner based on Cain’s role in what Poliquin called a “stunt” but the Democrats on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee on Monday evening. In essence, Democrats on the committee convened after their Republican colleagues left for the day and voted 7-0 in favor of a bill that would restore $40 million in state revenue sharing to Maine municipalities. Democrats say Republicans refused to participate in the vote; Republicans say they expected a vote on that bill today and that Democrats convened Monday evening to shut them out of the process.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that there is little chance, if any, that any Republicans on the committee would have supported the measure.

Poliquin, the former state treasurer, called the situation a “Washington-style political maneuver” that raids the state’s so-called rainy day fund, which is a cash reserve that has direct bearing on the state’s credit rating.

“By holding a secret vote without including the other party, Emily Cain and her political buddies sought to invalidate the votes of Maine’s people who chose Republicans to serve as their representatives and senators on the powerful Appropriations Committee,” said Poliquin in a written statement. “That Washington-style political stunt is an affront to democracy and decency.”

Dan Cashman, spokesman for Cain’s campaign, reacted strongly to Poliquin’s statement.

“It is unfortunate that Bruce Poliquin is choosing to distort the truth for political gain in a situation he clearly knows very little about,” wrote Cashman in response to questions from the BDN. “Bruce Poliquin’s attempt to twist the facts to attack Emily Cain when he has an overwhelming lack of credibility on the topic is not only harmful to the legislative process, but also reeks of desperation.”

Bellows receives endorsement from national progressive group, compared to Elizabeth Warren

Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett

Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett

Democrat Shenna Bellows, who is running against incumbent Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, received an endorsement Tuesday that could add cash to her campaign effort. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee said it has already begun soliciting funds for Bellows, who is the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. The group, which says it raised $2.7 million for candidates during the 2012 election cycle, has 5,700 members in Maine and nearly a million across the country.

Bellows, who entered the race in October, raised slightly more money that Collins in the final quarter of 2013, according to reports to the Federal Election Commission, though Collins has some $3 million already in the bank for her campaign.

“We call Shenna Bellows the ‘Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties’ because she’s campaigning boldly on constitutional freedom and economic populism,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Like Elizabeth Warren’s challenge to former Sen. Scott Brown, many insiders thought Susan Collins was unbeatable. Until now.”






Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.