BOSTON — While the three Democratic candidates for governor have been spending down their campaign accounts as they battle for their party’s primary nod, Republican candidate Charlie Baker has been busy stockpiling money for the November general election.
As of mid-August, Baker had nearly $1.2 million left in his campaign account – more than twice as much as the nearest Democrat, Martha Coakley, who had $564,861. She was followed by fellow Democrats Don Berwick with $527,220 and Steve Grossman with $222,384.
Baker overwhelming won his party’s endorsement. His GOP rival, the tea party-affiliated Mark Fisher, reported having just $30,000 in his account as of mid-August.
While Baker has pulled in more than any other candidate, he’s also been spending at a brisk pace – more than $1.4 million since the beginning of the year.
The three Democrats, locked in a do-or-die primary, have been dipping deeper into their campaign coffers. Coakley already has spent more than $1.6 million while Grossman has spent nearly $1.8 million. Berwick has spent nearly $1.2 million.
Whoever wins the Democratic primary will have to quickly replenish their campaign war chest for the 8-week sprint to the general election.
They’ll also have to contend with the boost Baker already is getting from a super PAC that has spent more than $1.4 million supporting his candidacy.
That PAC – the Commonwealth Future Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee – has spent much of its money on television ads designed to strengthen Baker’s support among voters with an eye toward the November election.
By far the biggest donor to the PAC is the Republican Governors Association, which has contributed $1.35 million.
Grossman is also benefiting from a super PAC formed to help his candidacy. The Mass Forward Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee has collected about $475,000. One of the PAC’s biggest donors is Grossman’s mother, Shirley Grossman, who has contributed $100,000.
Under campaign law, neither Baker nor Grossman can coordinate with the super PACs.
Baker’s super PAC advantage could be blunted somewhat in the general election, should he win the GOP primary.
A super PAC backed the Democratic Governors Association and local unions is gearing up to launch ads after the primary to support the Democratic candidate.
The Mass Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee has bought more than $3 million in television time from the primary through Election Day, said Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the PAC.
Baker also is benefiting from the fundraising prowess of his hand-picked running mate, former Shrewsbury state Rep. Karyn Polito.
Although candidates for governor run separately in the primaries, Baker teamed with Polito early. She faces no Republican challengers.
That has allowed Polito to stockpile cash while the three Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor spend down their campaign accounts. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will team with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to run as a team in November.
As of mid-August, Polito had nearly $580,000 in cash in her campaign account, far more than the three Democratic candidates – Stephen Kerrigan ($133,399), Michael Lake ($67,817) and Leland Cheung ($35,146).