The Blaine House in Augusta Credit: Carter F. McCall

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine gubernatorial candidates had at least $2.3 million left to spend on their campaigns 49 days before the June 12 primary, with Democrat Adam Cote and Republican Shawn Moody leading the money race among their parties’ hopefuls.

But public money is playing a big role in the race after three candidates qualified for Maine’s Clean Election program. The two party candidates who did will go toward the top of their fields in fundraising after new $150,000 payments that weren’t reflected in updated filings through April 24 that were due to the Maine Ethics Commission on Tuesday.

By that deadline, Cote, a Sanford attorney, and Moody, a Gorham businessman, remained atop their fields in the race to replace the term-limited Gov. Paul LePage in November. Cote raised $805,000 for the primary with $467,000 left in his coffers, while Moody raised $575,000 with $409,000 — including $300,000 in personal money.

Through the Clean Election program, Democratic lobbyist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell received $497,664 in seed and public money with $324,000 left and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, got $437,000 with $210,000 left.

Sweet and Mason have each qualified for another supplemental payment of $150,000, Jonathan Wayne, the executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said Tuesday. That could put Sweet ahead of Cote in cash on hand and put Mason ahead of Moody in total money raised.

Attorney General Janet Mills of Farmington raised $572,000 over the same period with $279,000 left for the second-best mark overall in the seven-way Democratic field among privately financed candidates.

Former House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick was third with $305,000 raised and $87,000 left and former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew was second among privately financed candidates in the Republican race with $300,000 raised and $84,000 left.

Three of the party candidates — including two legislators — had particularly anemic showings. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, raised just $20,000 with $6,200 left and Sen. Mark Dion, D-Portland, raised $33,000 with $4,500 left, though legislators are barred from raising money from lobbyists and employers during the legislative session. Former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion, a Democrat, raised $1,100 with $237 left.

Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes, a Buckfield independent who is the third Clean Election candidate, got $292,000 through the program by the deadline with $120,000 left. But she has qualified for the November ballot, so she will get a $600,000 Clean Election payment after the primary.

Independent Alan Caron of Freeport raised $495,270 privately with $333,000 left, but he and his wife loaned $450,000 to the campaign overall. Independents Ken Capron of Portland and former Lewiston and Auburn Mayor John Jenkins, an independent, raised $100 and $50 overall, respectively.

Former state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, was saddled with a crippling $77,000 in debt and had only raised $67,000 with just $422 left. Independent Ethan Weld Alcorn of Saco raised just $135.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...