- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker is closing the fundraising gap with Democratic hopeful Steven Grossman as candidates in the crowded field for Massachusetts governor scrabble for donations.

As of the end of May, Baker reported $899,710 in his account. That’s compared with Grossman, the state’s treasurer, who had $910,567 left in his checkbook according to fundraising information reported to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Third in the fundraising race is fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, Attorney General Martha Coakley, who reported $528,379 in her account as of May 31.

The three remaining Democratic challengers were trailing in the push for campaign funds. Donald Berwick reported $228,863 compared with Juliette Kayyem with $167,667 and Joseph Avellone with $57,287.

Republican Mark Fisher, Baker’s primary opponent, had just $35,350 in his account.

Among the independent candidates running for governor, Jeffrey McCormick and Evan Falchuk also reported significant fundraising bankrolls. McCormick had a balance of $221,369 at the end of May. Falchuk had $53,036.

The latest fundraising numbers come just days after Coakley agreed to limit her campaign spending so she can participate in the state’s public campaign financing program and as Democrats gear up for next week’s statewide party convention in Worcester.

Coakley joined Avellone, Berwick and Fisher in seeking the public funds.

The candidates must agree to limit their campaign expenditures to $1.5 million for the primary and $1.5 million for the general election - although that can increase depending on the self-imposed limit set by any opponent who doesn’t agree to limits.

To qualify, a candidate must reach the minimum threshold of $75,000 in qualifying matching contributions for the primary. In return, each gubernatorial candidate is eligible for up to $750,000 for each of the two campaign periods, if the money is available.

State elections officials estimate there will be just $1.25 million in the campaign fund to be divided evenly between the primary and general election campaigns.

Grossman, Kayyem, and Baker won’t seek public funds.

The sole source of funding for public financing is the State Election Campaign Fund, which allows taxpayers to direct $1 from their tax liability to the fund each year.

Candidates not participating in the public financing program must file a statement of the maximum they intend to spend for their primary election campaign by Friday.

Public financing for campaigns has been in place for every statewide election in Massachusetts since 1978.

Also Thursday, McCormick released what he said was the first television ad of the campaign for governor.

In the 30-second spot, the venture capitalist from Boston, tries to cast himself as a candidate beholden to no party ideology.

“President Kennedy once said ‘Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.’” McCormick says in the ad. “Those words are truer now than ever.”

Candidates must win the backing of at least 15 percent of delegates at June 14’s nominating convention to be eligible for the Democratic primary ballots.



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