- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Republican Gov. Charlie Baker won’t face re-election until 2018, but he’s off to a strong fundraising start this year.

In the first three months of the year, Baker raised more than $800,000, cresting a total of $3 million for the first time since taking office.

Campaign finance records show the relatively frugal Baker spent just $160,000 during the same three-month period.

Baker’s fundraising dwarfs that of the top statewide Democrat on Beacon Hill: Attorney General Maura Healey.

Healey raised just under $17,000 during the first quarter of 2016, leaving her with just under $322,000 left in her account. That’s about a tenth of Baker’s campaign bankroll.

Healey also won’t face re-election until 2018.

Unlike Baker, Healey has been spending more than she’s been raising.

Baker’s fundraising numbers in the first quarter of 2016 comes on the heels of a feverish fundraising year in 2015.

During his first year in office, Baker reported nearly $2.8 million in receipts and ended the year with about $2.4 million left in his account according to fundraising reports filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Helping fuel Baker’s fundraising surge is a change in the state’s campaign finance law which doubled the maximum annual allowable donation from $500 to $1,000. The change took effect in January 2015.

About 376 donations to Baker during the first three months on 2016 came in the form of single $1,000 contributions. That’s more than 45 percent of Baker’s total haul for the first quarter of the year.

That mirrors a trend from last year.

An Associated Press review of Baker’s campaign finance reports in 2015 also found that about 45 percent of all the cash the Republican raised that year came in the form of individual $1,000 donations.

According to the review, 1,267 individuals kicked in $1,000 checks to Baker in 2015, a haul of more than $1.2 million.

The review only looked at single $1,000 donations - not multiple donations from an individual that might total $1,000 over the course of a year.

In contrast, during the same three month period this year, Healey received just five $1,000 donations.

Last year, Healey was raising campaign cash at a brisker pace.

She pulled in more than $407,000 in her first year, nearly twice the $237,000 that her successor, former Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley, raised during her first year.

More than 34 percent of Healey’s 2015 total came from just 140 individual donations of $1,000 each.

The hike in the maximum contribution was included in a larger campaign overhaul bill signed into law by former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick in 2014.

The $500 limit had been in place for 20 years.

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