Candidates, state party committees and outside groups raised and spent more than $28.5 million on the 2022 governor’s race, making it the costliest for the Blaine House in state history.

It surpassed even the record spending predicted by national observers. AdImpact, a Virginia-based group that tracks and predicts political spending, projected that $27 million would be spent on the three-way race for governor, which featured two well-known figures and an unknown independent.

Candidates for Maine governor Sam Hunkler, Paul LePage and Gov. Janet Mills

Just over $8.3 million was spent by the three candidates – Democratic incumbent Janet Mills, former two-term Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Sam Hunkler, according to final campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

An additional $20.2 million was spent by outside groups, including state parties and political action committees. Much of that outside spending was for negative television, radio and digital ads either reminding voters of LePage’s previous controversial comments and policies, or accusing Mills of causing inflation and interfering with parental rights in public schools regarding race and gender identity.

Outside groups cannot coordinate with candidates, but their money helped amplify the campaign messaging for both campaigns. LePage and Republicans focused on historic levels of inflation and what they called “a woke” public education system, while Mills and Democrats focused on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion for 50 years.

Mills held a strong fundraising advantage from the start, raising more than twice as much as LePage. She cruised to a 13 percentage point victory over the former governor, winning 55% of the vote compared to LePage’s 42.2%.


Her fundraising advantage grew during the final stretch, with Mills collecting three-and-a-half times as much as LePage in the closing weeks, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

In the most recent reporting period – Oct. 26-Dec. 13 – Mills collected $258,000, while LePage raised $91,516. That helped Mills fend off a last-minute spending blitz by LePage, who spent $931,634 – roughly 36% of his total – in the closing days, while Mills spent $538,000.

In the end, Mills raised nearly $5.8 million, more than double the $2.6 million raised by LePage.

Mills finished the campaign with more than $35,700 in the bank, with remaining debts totaling about $5,000 in rental fees for Aura, the Portland nightclub where her election night party was held. LePage, meanwhile, finished with $30,525 and no debts.

Political newcomer Sam Hunkler, a semi-retired physician from Beals, earned less than 2% of the vote in his longshot, nontraditional independent bid, for which he set a $5,000 budget limit and didn’t accept donations. He raised and spent $4,237.

Total spending in the 2022 race exceeded previous gubernatorial races, including the 2014 race in which LePage bested Democrat Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler. About $18.7 million was spent in that race between three well-known political candidates. That’s equivalent to $23.6 million after accounting for inflation and was the record in a gubernatorial race until this year.

However, neither the 2014 nor 2022 races for governor come close to the $92 million spent on the 2020 U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sarah Gideon.

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