Major cash disparity in Mass. gubernatorial race
BOSTON (AP) — The race for governor is shaping up to be the most lopsided in Massachusetts history when it comes to campaign war chests — and a state program aimed at rewarding candidates who volunteer to rein in spending isn’t likely to make much a dent in the disparity.
Elections officials this week announced that nine Massachusetts candidates running for statewide office have opted to participate in the state’s public financing program.
They include the two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie, and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Lively, all of whom agreed to campaign spending limits.
Specifically, the three agreed to limit their campaign spending to $1.5 million for the primary and $1.5 million for the general election. In return, each candidate is eligible for up to $750,000 for each of the two campaign periods, if funds are available.
While that may sound like a sizeable chunk, it’s nowhere near the more than $8 million and counting that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has already stockpiled as of the end of May. Baker has opted not to participate in the program.
Also not participating is Baker’s second in command, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who has about $3.6 million in her account, bringing the combined Baker-Polito total — assuming Baker fends off a long-shot primary challenge from Lively — to more than $11.6 million in cash on hand with the general election more than five months off.
In contrast, Gonzalez, who recently won his party’s endorsement, has about $172,000 in cash in his campaign account, compared to Massie with about $24,000 and Lively with about $13,000.
While the amount of money in the State Election Campaign Fund that will be available to participating candidates will be determined in early July, offi- cials from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance estimates that the amount of available funds will top out at about $1.2 million to be divided evenly between the primary and general election campaigns.
That means that if the three candidates for governor who are participating in the public financing system — Gonzalez, Massie and Lively — reach a minimum threshold of $75,000 in qualifying matching contributions for the primary, there won’t be any money available for other statewide candidates in the primary.
On Thursday, Baker declared he would spend no more than $9 million in the primary, as required by the public financing law.
Under the law, the $9 million cap now also applies to Lively.