Raimondo raises $1.3M for re-election race; Fung is best-funded rival

Politics
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo set a new personal fundraising record during the first three months of 2018, raising $1.3 million and widening the already enormous financial edge she holds over her rivals.

The first-term incumbent’s campaign announced the numbers ahead of Monday night’s deadline for candidates to file their first-quarter reports. The latest round of donations pushed the Raimondo campaign’s cash on hand above $4.3 million, a Board of Elections filings shows.

Kate Ramstad, Raimondo’s finance director, said more than 900 Rhode Island residents donated to her campaign during the quarter. “We’re on a good path and thousands of generous Rhode Islanders chipped in this quarter because they want to see continued progress in the state,” she said.

Raimondo, who has been a prolific fundraiser with a national network since she entered politics nearly a decade ago, appears to be building an unprecedented war chest for a state-level Rhode Island politician. The last time she raised $1 million in a regular quarter was exactly four years ago, during the first three months of 2014.

Raimondo spent $352,000 during the quarter, with about a third of the money going to two consulting firms, Chicago-bsaed Civis Analytics and D.C.-based Rising Tide Interactive. She also spent nearly $180,000 paying a roster of 22 campaign staffers.

So far nine people have filed to run against Raimondo this year — three Republicans, three Democrats, two independents and one Moderate — but none have anywhere near the amount of campaign money that she does.

Topping the list of challengers is Republican Allan Fung, who lost a close race to Raimondo as the GOP nominee four years ago. Fung raised about $192,000 during the first quarter, and after expenses had about $316,000 on hand on March 31.

In a statement, Fung said more than 80% of his donations came from Rhode Islanders, and described himself as “very pleased” with the results of the three-month period. His aides have also noted that unlike Raimondo, he plans to participate in the state’s matching funds program, which could provide him with up to nearly $1.2 million if he wins the nomination and raises enough.

“With the majority of my donations coming from Rhode Islanders, it is clear my message to fix our state’s economy is resonating,” Fung said, adding: “I’m excited to continue building more support as the campaign rolls on.”

Another Republican hopeful, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, raised about $76,000 during the quarter and loaned her campaign an additional $25,000. Her campaign finished with $185,000 in cash on hand as of March 31, a bit more than half as much as Fung.

“I am honored to have the support of so many of our neighbors, friends and family members throughout Rhode Island,” Morgan said in a statement, reporting that 92% of her donors were state residents in the last quarter.

A third Republican, businessman Giovanni Feroce, had just $500 in his account as of March 31. Feroce had previously said he would not begin fundraising until April 1 so that he would not have to reveal his position until the summer report.

Joe Trillo, a former GOP lawmaker now running for governor as an independent, raised less than $7,000 during the quarter but said he plans to largely self-fund his campaign from his personal wealth. He had $123,000 on hand as of March 31.

“I am not actively out in the community raising money because, unlike all of my opponents, I have no intention of being beholden to any special interest groups or individuals who offer me large contributions,” Trillo said in a statement.

Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who announced last week he will challenge Raimondo in the Democratic primary, raised $57,000 during the quarter, during which he was exploring a run as an independent. His campaign had $25,000 cash on hand as of March 31. His biggest expense was $10,000 with Moon March, a Minnesota consulting firm.

Among other candidates, Democrat Paul Roselli finished the quarter with $1,525; Democrat Spencer Dickinson finished with $3,390; Moderate Bill Gilbert finished with $101,000 thanks to a six-figure personal loan; and independent Luis Daniel Munoz had not yet filed his report as of midday Monday.

Meanwhile, fundraising efforts continue. Raimondo held receptions for donors in California and New York City earlier this month, while Fung met with contributors at a dinner in Boston last week. Campaigns have also continued a drumbeat of email messages soliciting small-dollar donations.

The R.I. Republican Party continued seeking to make the out-of-state fundraising trips a liability for Raimondo, distributing a video on Monday the GOP said showed her ducking a question about DCYF outside the New York event. GOP Chairman Brandon Bell said he did not know who shot the footage, but it was posted by a YouTube user named Josh Calluzzo whose account is solely videos harmful to Raimondo.

Here’s a quick overview of the financial picture in other major races.

Lieutenant Governor: State Rep. Aaron Regunberg continued to stockpile significant money in his Democratic primary challenge against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan McKee. Regunberg raised about $108,000 during the winter quarter, finishing with roughly $348,000 cash on hand. McKee continued to lag well behind Regunberg, raising about $46,000 to finish with roughly $160,000 cash on hand. A Republican candidate, Paul Pence Jr., had less than $300 in his account.

Attorney General: Incumbent Democrat Peter Kilmartin is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2018. Former U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, a Democrat and so far the only announced candidate to succeed Kilmartin, continued to build a significant campaign stockpile during the quarter. He had about $212,000 on hand as of March 31 after raising roughly $82,000.

Secretary of State: Incumbent Democrat Nellie Gorbea has drawn no announced challengers so far. She had about $199,000 on hand as of March 31 after raising roughly $68,000 during the quarter.

General Treasurer: Incumbent Democrat Seth Magaziner has drawn no announced challengers so far. He had about $567,000 on hand as of March 31 after raising roughly $160,000 during the quarter.

General Assembly: Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello took in about $187,000 during the quarter, finishing with roughly $395,000 in his personal account on March 31. Mattiello’s political action committee, the Fund for Democratic Leadership, raised no money but had about $19,000 on March 31.

Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio took in about $114,000 during the quarter, finishing with roughly $224,000 in his personal account on March 31. Ruggerio’s political action committee, the RI Senate Leadership PAC, had about $14,000 at quarter’s end.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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