- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung has a big money edge over Democrat Gina Raimondo thanks to an infusion of public matching funds, new campaign finance filings show, but at least two outside groups are poised to air TV ads on her behalf.

Fung, the mayor of Cranston, has $911,000 on hand, compared to Raimondo’s $334,000, according to reports filed late Tuesday with the state Board of Elections.

Raimondo, the general treasurer who is known as a prodigious fundraiser, outraised her opponent from Sept. 2 to Oct. 6, bringing in $257,000 to Fung’s $76,000. But Fung got $1.1 million in public funds last month, leaving him with a big advantage.

Raimondo did not seek matching funds, which come with strings attached. That allowed her to spend some $5 million to win a hard-fought Democratic primary over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and political newcomer Clay Pell. She drained her campaign account to secure the nomination.

Although he’s accepting public financing, Fung is allowed to spend above the limit normally imposed because Raimondo already spent more than the cap, according to the elections board.

Independent expenditures are now picking up ahead of the Nov. 4 election. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA political action committee plans to run ads for Raimondo, though it’s not clear how much it will spend, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the pro-Raimondo American LeadHERship PAC will begin running a spot Thursday that calls Fung an “insider’s insider” who has raised taxes in Cranston. The group reported a $120,000 expenditure Monday.

In the Democratic primary, Raimondo and her opponents agreed to a People’s Pledge that discouraged outside expenditures by super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts. But there is no such agreement in the general election.

State Democrats have also spent about $90,000 to air an ad on Raimondo’s behalf that prompted a complaint by the state GOP. Republicans say the ad, which briefly features U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, should have been subject to a spending limit of $25,000 because it promoted a state candidate. Democrats say it promoted Reed and is covered by a higher federal spending cap. The Board of Elections ruled Wednesday afternoon in closed session in favor of the Democrats.

Fung is expected to get some fundraising help Friday from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. A private event is planned in Providence following a public one in Johnston.

No outside groups have yet indicated plans to run ads for Fung.

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