PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo has raised more than three-quarters of a million dollars in campaign contributions since taking office in January, setting a notably faster fundraising pace than her two predecessors.
Raimondo’s campaign reported late Monday that the governor, a first-term Democrat, raised $200,000 during the three-month period ended Sept. 30, R.I. Board of Elections filings show. That brings her total fundraising since Jan. 1 to $776,000, according to a WPRI.com analysis of campaign filings.
By comparison, Raimondo’s immediate predecessor, then-independent Lincoln Chafee, raised $140,000 during the first nine months of his term in 2011; Chafee disliked fundraising and paid many of his campaign expenses out of his personal wealth. Chafee’s predecessor, Republican Don Carcieri, raised $466,000 during the first nine months of his first term in 2003.
Still, Raimondo’s speedy collecting of campaign cash is no surprise at this point.
The former venture capitalist has been a champion fundraiser since entering politics in 2009, leveraging her Ivy League and business world connections as well as her personal appeal to well-heeled donors. She has now raised a whopping $7.7 million over the last six years, a WPRI.com analysis of filings shows. Her 2014 victory was estimated to have cost more than $8 million.
By Raimondo’s standards, in fact, the third quarter wasn’t particularly impressive. Since the governor’s campaign operation also spent $62,000, she netted only $138,000 for the quarter – her lowest net haul since the first quarter of 2012. She finished the quarter with $519,000 cash on hand.
Raimondo’s donors in the third quarter included Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who backed her opponent Angel Taveras in last year’s Democratic primary, and corporate leaders including CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo and National Grid’s regional chief Tim Horan. She is not up for re-election until 2018.
Raimondo’s separate political action committee, Gina PAC, was barely active during the third quarter, raising $3,250 to finish with $23,000 cash on hand.
Rhode Island’s campaign-finance laws allow candidates to raise up to $1,000 from an individual each year, unlike at the federal level, where donations are capped over the course of a multiyear election cycle. That gives Rhode Island politicians an incentive to collect donations from loyal supporters even multiple years before they will be actively campaigning again.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, raised just $2,650 during the third quarter to finish with $268,000 cash on hand. His campaign reported a lot of spending at restaurants, including The Capital Grille, with a $1,650 tab listed for one meal on Aug. 19.
Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, raised no money during the third quarter but spent $13,000 and finished with $95,000 cash on hand. Her top restaurant expense was $1,236 at Mudville Pub in Newport on July 20.
Legislative leaders also have their own political action committees.
Mattiello’s, the Fund for Democratic Leadership PAC, raised no money during the third quarter and finished with $109,000 cash on hand. Paiva Weed’s, the RI Senate Democrats PAC, raised $250 but spent $10,000 and finished with $16,000 cash on hand. Another Senate PAC, the RI Senate Leadership PAC, raised no money but spent $7,000, finishing with $13,000 cash on hand. (The two Senate PACs spent a combined $9,300 with McGrath Clambakes of Newport during the quarter.)
Among the other four statewide officeholders, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee had $44,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30; Attorney General Peter Kilmartin had $24,000; Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea had $18,000; and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner had $101,000. All but Kilmartin, who is term-limited, will be up for re-election in 2018.
State Rep. Joe Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, continues to sit on a huge pile of campaign cash for a state lawmaker: $420,000 as of Sept. 30. Shekarchi, a longstanding Raimondo ally, is seen as likely to run for Warwick mayor when incumbent Republican Scott Avedisian someday decides to retire.
In Cranston, where incumbent Republican Mayor Allan Fung will face a challenge in 2016 from Democratic City Committee Chairman Michael Sepe, the two candidates are starting out in a similar financial position. Fung’s campaign account had $26,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30, while Sepe’s had $25,000.
At the party level, the latest reports reflects Democrats’ local dominance.
The Rhode Island Democratic Party’s state account took in $55,000 during the third quarter, finishing with $39,000 cash on hand; its federal account had $9,000 cash on hand. The party account played a crucial role in funding the Democrats’ successful campaign push in 2014.
The Rhode Island Republican Party’s state account took in just $5,710 during the third quarter and spent almost as much, finishing with $1,000 cash on hand; its federal account had $5,000 cash on hand as of June 30, when its last report was filed.
At the federal level, where third-quarter reports were due last month, Rhode Island’s all-Democratic congressional delegation continued to stockpile cash.
Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin, both of whom are up for re-election in 2016, finished the quarter with $466,000 and $662,000 cash on hand as of Sept. 30, respectively. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who is up for re-election in 2018, had $855,000 cash on hand; U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who won’t face voters until 2020, had $1.8 million.Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi