Clockwise from top left, Alan Caron, Terry Hayes, Janet Mills and Shawn Moody. Credit:

Maine’s candidates for governor have dumped about $2.6 million into the race, spending more than one of every three dollars trying to capture the attention of voters’ eyes and ears.

But while the two major party candidates spent heavily on television ads to win their respective primary races, two unenrolled challengers have focused their efforts online.

Unenrolled candidate Terry Hayes leads the way in online spending, putting about one in five of her campaign dollars toward online advertising through the San Diego-based firm IVC media, which ran online fundraising for libertarian Gary Johnson’s 2016 presidential bid.

Alan Caron, the other unenrolled candidate in the race, has put one in 10 of his funds toward online advertising, with the most going through the Rockland-based social media consultancy Dream Local Digital. But the largest portion of his funding went to television ads through a Colorado-based media buyer that’s worked with many Democratic campaigns nationally.

For online advertising, Democrat Janet Mills and Republican Shawn Moody have put 2 percent and 1 percent of their cash into online advertising to date, respectively.

Moody’s campaign has spent more at the opposite end of the technology spectrum, putting almost 30 percent of his cash into mailings, print advertisements and radio stations reaching rural conservative strongholds.

He is the only candidate so far to spend on radio and he spent about as much with the Lewiston-based printing company Penmor Lithographers as Hayes did on online advertising.

Moody’s campaign is also the most homespun, with the highest share of spending going to vendors or consultants in Maine. That’s despite the cash going to his highest-paid campaign consultant in Washington, D.C., Brent Littlefield, who helped Gov. Paul LePage and Rep. Bruce Poliquin into office.

Democrat Janet Mills’ campaign has spent the most outside the state, mostly with the Chicago-based media buyers Ai Media Group and the Illinois-based firm The Strategy Group, which led targeted mail campaigns during Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.

Mills’ campaign also hired the New York-based polling firm Global Strategy Group, which has worked with a slate of Democratic politicians, and the group EMILY’s List, which endorsed Mills and put $300,000 behind her primary campaign.

Caron also had a high share of spending outside Maine and leaned on a media buying firm in Colorado, BlueWest Media. Federal campaign disclosures show the firm worked with a number of Democratic campaigns in 2016, as well as the political action committee NextGen Climate Action, which spent heavily in Maine’s 2014 governor’s race to support Democrat Mike Michaud.

That spending signals an alignment between Caron’s campaign and Mills’, which could pose trouble for the Democrat who survived a ranked-choice primary to move onto a traditional general election with two independent challengers.

But Caron’s campaign also had the least fuel in the furnace at the end of the reporting period. His campaign, which has run largely off personal loans, had just less than $2,000 in the bank as of July 24. That’s far less than his challengers.

At the end of the most recent reporting period, the unenrolled Hayes’ campaign had the most cash on hand, followed by Moody, Mills and then Caron.

Hayes’ campaign, the only using public financing, also faces greater uncertainty about future funding because a partisan impasse in the House of Representatives has held up additional disbursements to candidates through the Clean Election program.

See detailed week-by-week spending from the campaigns in the graphic below.

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Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.