Prominent donors line up behind governor candidates

Oct. 4—Gov. Janet Mills and former Gov. Paul LePage are spending furiously heading into the final weeks of the campaign, and both are getting help from some familiar names as prominent activists, business leaders and other donors line up to support their candidates.

LePage, the Republican nominee, is challenging Mills, the Democratic incumbent, in an effort to become the first person to serve three nonconsecutive terms as Maine governor. LePage and Mills have a long history of clashing over politics and policy, including when Mills served as attorney general during six years of LePage's tenure as governor.

Political newcomer Sam Hunkler, a Beals physician, also qualified for the ballot and is running a long-shot independent bid. He is not raising money for his campaign.

LePage and Mills have so far been battling it out mostly on the airwaves, with some television ads touting their backgrounds and records and others attacking their opponent's. Outside groups not affiliated with the campaigns also are buying air time, and the vast majority of their ads are attacking the opposing candidate.

The race enters a new phase Tuesday when the candidates meet for their first debate.

Sponsored by Maine Public, the Portland Press Herald and the Sun Journal, the debate will take place from 8-9:30 p.m. It will be livestreamed at pressherald.com, and reporters will provide analysis and fact checking on the Press Herald's Twitter feed.

Three other debates featuring all three candidates are scheduled to take place this month and in the first week of November.

Both campaigns continue to chase donations. As of last week, LePage continued to trail Mills in fundraising. But for him, it's a familiar position, having been outspent in his two successful campaigns for governor in 2010 and 2014.

Mills has more than doubled LePage's fundraising efforts, collecting $4.85 million to LePage's $2.24 million. Both candidates, however, had about the same amount of cash on hand heading into the final 42 days of the campaign with Mills having $1.4 million and LePage $1.3 million.

LePage's top donors include Howie Carr, a conservative radio host and columnist based out of Massachusetts. Carr gave LePage $1,725, the maximum allowed for either the primary campaign or the general election campaign.

And Linda Bean, a conservative activist, has given more than $6,900 from herself and her business, Linda Bean's Perfect Maine, for both the primary and general elections.

He's also getting support from the Quirk family, which owns a series of car dealerships. David, Thomas, John, Robert and James Quirk have given a combined total of more than $5,123. And the Darling family, which also sells cars, has donated $11,125 through the business and individual donations from John, Deborah and Lynn Darling.

Anti-vaccine advocates Dr. Christiane Northrup and Meryl Nass, whose medical license was suspended for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, have given $1,594 and $250, respectively.

Mills, meanwhile, is receiving high-profile support from Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker and his wife, MK Pritzker, who each gave $1,725. And Mills is receiving additional out-of-state support from the Rockefeller family, with Susan, David and Larry Rockefeller giving a combined total of $10,350.

She also received support from wealthy philanthropist and land conservationist Roxanne Quimby and Democratic megadonor Donald Sussman, who each gave $1,725.

Other notable Mills donors giving $1,725 include artist Jamie Wyeth of Tenants Harbor, Lee Auto Malls President Adam Lee of Cumberland, Hancock Lumber CEO Kevin Hancock of Casco and philanthropist Melinda French Gates.