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Mills leads LePage in fundraising, but spending by outside groups looms

Janet Mills
Robert F. Bukaty
Gov. Janet Mills attends an event at the Blaine House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Augusta, Maine.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills hasn't made her reelection campaign official, but campaign finance reports currently show she has more than double the available cash to spend on a contest against Republican challenger and two-time Gov. Paul LePage.

Mills' had about $1 million in cash at the end of last year, while LePage had about $450,000.

Paul LePage
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a campaign rally held by Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Saco, Maine.

The Democrat also outraised LePage, $1.6 million to his nearly $900,000 — although it's worth noting that LePage has been outspent in every election that he's won.

The finance reports are an early look at a contest that could reach $70 million when accounting for activity by outside groups that can spend unlimited money to influence Maine voters.

Two of those groups, the Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association, are expected to be active in this race, just as they were in gubernatorial contests in Virginia and New Jersey last year.

The DGA and RGA bolster their respective candidates in multiple ways, including direct financial support to candidates, state party committees and independent spending on ads.