The candidates for Rhode Island governor have collectively raised more than $12 million and spent more than $5 million in the race to replace one-term Gov. Lincoln Chafee, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by The Associated Press. The numbers indicate the race could become the most expensive gubernatorial election in state history.
Filings made this week with the state board of elections show the five major candidates raised a combined $12.4 million from the beginning of 2011 through June 30, 2014.
Democratic General Treasurer Gina Raimondo has raised more than a third of that amount, bringing in $4.7 million during the cycle. Her next closest fundraising competitor was Democrat Clay Pell, who has raised $3.4 million. But nearly all of that money, $3.1 million, has come from a personal loan Pell made to his campaign. Raimondo has not loaned herself any money.
Pell is a former Obama administration official and grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell. He is married to Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who will face Pell and Raimondo in the Sept. 9 primary, has raised $2.5 million. On the Republican side, businessman Ken Block has raised just under $1 million, bolstered by a $720,000 personal loan to his campaign. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has raised just over $750,000.
Fung and Taveras, like Raimondo, have not loaned their campaigns any money.
The most expensive governor's race in state history was in 2002, the year Republican Don Carcieri won over Democrat Myrth York. More than $10 million was spent. Like this year, there were contested primaries on both the Democratic and Republican sides that year.
It's not clear exactly how much was raised and spent during that cycle because the board of elections only began keeping electronic records one year into the 2002 cycle. During the one year that records are available, $10 million was raised and $10 million spent by the six major candidates in that race.
In this year's race, the biggest spending, which typically happens on TV ads, has only recently begun. Spending on TV ads usually is most intense in the weeks before the September primary and through to Election Day, which this year is Nov. 4.
Fundraising this year has already far surpassed the amount that was raised in 2010, when the candidates raised $9.1 million. Spending in 2010 reached $9.9 million.