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Paul LePage Ad Advantage in Maine Comes from Big money

I read with interest today Kevin Miller’s report in the Bangor Daily News on financing in the campaigns for Governor of Maine. Miller noted that Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage has received more campaign money from the Republican Governors Association than Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell has received from the Democratic Governors Association.

Kevin Miller interprets this difference as a sign of Republican Party confidence in Paul LePage, but a simpler explanation for the difference is that the Republican Governors Association has more money to spend. IRS reports on the activity of 527 political organizations in the 3rd Quarter of 2010 show that:

  • The Democratic Governors Association received half again as many contributions (2,186) as the Republican Governors Association (1,461) in the 3rd quarter of 2010.
  • The average check written to the Republican Governors Association was nearly five times as large ($21,325.02) as the average check written to the Democratic Governors Association ($4,514.53). As a result, the Republican group ended up with $21.2 million more to spend than the Democratic group, even though fewer people supported it.
  • Of the 10 largest contributions to all Section 527 political groups in the nation in the 3rd quarter, 6 of them are contributions to the Republican Governors Association — made by a media mogul, a real estate developer, a casino operator and 3 hedge fund managers.

The advantage to Paul LePage over Libby Mitchell in money from the governors associations doesn’t reflect Republican popularity. It reflects the willingness of unusually well-off Republican contributors to write extra-large checks.

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