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Gov. Mills continues to outpace former Gov. LePage in fundraising

In Maine, incumbent Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, left, and former Republican Gov. Paul LePage will face off for the 2022 election for governor.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
In Maine, incumbent Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, left, and former Republican Gov. Paul LePage will face off for the 2022 election for governor.

The fundraising gap between incumbent Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her top challenger, former Gov. Paul LePage, is widening. But outside groups are spending more money than either candidate in Maine's gubernatorial race.

According to their latest campaign finance reports, Mills has raised more than $4.8 million for her re-election campaign. That's more than double the $2.2 million collected so far by LePage – a Republican who is seeking a third, non-consecutive term in the governor’s office – and is significantly more than the $3 million she raised during her entire campaign in 2018. Mills reported $993,401 in contributions between July 20 and September 20 compared to $442,191 received by LePage during that period. Independent Sam Hunkler, meanwhile, has spent less than $4,000 on his longshot campaign.

Despite the difference in fundraising, however, the two frontrunners had roughly the same amount of money in the bank as they head into October, with Mills sitting on just shy of $1.5 million versus LePage’s $1.3 million in the bank.

Yet LePage is a perfect example of how fundraising ability is not necessarily a reliable indicator of success at the ballot box. The Republican was significantly outspent in both the primary and the general election contests in 2010 as well as during his 2014 reelection campaign. And Democrat Sara Gideon raised a record-smashing $75 million for her 2020 bid for U.S. Senate only to lose by about 9 percentage points to incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who had raised less than half of her rival’s total.

Several recent polls have also shown Mills with a sizable lead over LePage. A online survey of roughly 700 likely voters, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, showed Mills leading LePage 53 percent to 39 percent with Hunkler polling at just 1 percent. But nearly every public poll taken in 2020 showed Gideon with a sizable lead over Collins in that Senate race.

As expected, the major parties and outside groups are poised to be the big spenders this election. Better Maine, which is a spinoff of the Democratic Governors Association, has spent more than $3.2 million to boost Mills. The Maine Republican Party has shelled out $1.2 million to help LePage. Other independent groups are also expected to spend heavily in the final weeks of Maine’s gubernatorial campaign.