- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The race for dollars is on for the November election after Rhode Island’s gubernatorial nominees drained their campaign accounts in contested primaries in the opening phase of what will be the state’s costliest election.

Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo spent over $5 million to secure the nomination Tuesday over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and former Obama administration official Clay Pell. She had little money remaining by the primary but is known as a skilled fundraiser.

Republican Allan Fung, Cranston’s mayor, spent more than $783,000 in his race against businessman Ken Block. He had about $78,000 left, campaign spokesman Rob Coupe said Thursday.

Only Fung has filed to receive public matching funds; his request is pending at the Board of Elections, which verifies eligibility. He would be entitled to $1.1 million, at most, in public financing. Coupe said the campaign expects to receive just under $1 million from its initial request.

Richard Thornton, director of campaign finance at the Board of Elections, said Fung will be allowed to exceed the $2.3 million overall spending cap that’s normally imposed on gubernatorial candidates who accept public financing. That’s because Raimondo has exceeded that amount already.

Coupe said Fung will “absolutely” be competitive on the fundraising front.

“We will have enough money to run a solid campaign,” he said. “This is a high-profile race. There’s a lot at stake, people will be paying attention and we will have the resources to win this election.”

Raimondo noted in her victory speech in Pawtucket Tuesday night that she had used up all her money in the hard-fought primary, and sent out a fundraising appeal almost within hours of stepping off the stage.

“It took everything we had to win this race - and our new opponent starts the general election with a big financial advantage,” the email said, referring to the matching funds Fung is expected to receive. It noted that Rhode Island hasn’t elected a Democratic governor in more than 20 years, and has never elected a woman.

Raimondo spokeswoman Nicole Kayner on Thursday declined to comment on the candidate’s fundraising efforts going forward.

The governor’s race already is the most expensive in state history, with some $13 million spent, according to the most recent campaign finance reports, which were filed before the primary.

Raimondo dominated the money race on the Democratic side. Taveras spent nearly $2.7 million, while Pell spent about $3.7 million, the filings show. Pell put $3.4 million of his own money into the race.

The general election is Nov. 4.

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