LaCasse sets high bar for Portland City Council campaign funding

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PORTLAND — Nomination papers for the November election cannot be submitted before Aug. 14, but campaign finance reports show City Council races could be expensive this year.

Bree LaCasse, who hopes to unseat incumbent at-large City Councilor Jill Duson, raised more than $19,200 through June 30, according to a semi-annual spending report filed July 17.

Candidates are not required to file finance and spending documents again until Oct. 27.

LaCasse, who is also running against Joey Brunelle, has raised more than all other declared council candidates combined.

She reported spending $9,800. Of that, $2,500 went to at-large School Board member John Eder, who earned $500 a week as a consultant to LaCasse.

The nearly $9,400 balance held by LaCasse is also more than any other candidate has reported raising: Brunelle reported more than $5,800 raised (including $300 he loaned the campaign), and $422 of in-kind contributions. He reported spending almost $4,000.

LaCasse’s fundraising success sets a new bar, eclipsing the money raised by Councilor Pious Ali in his 2016 race. In his July semi-annual filing, Ali reported more than $15,400 in contributions.

In 2015, District 2 Councilor Spencer Thibodeau and District 1 candidate Brandon Mazer each raised more than $15,000.

Duson, an incumbent seeking her sixth term, this year reported raising $3,400 and spending $3,300.

At the outset of his campaign, Brunelle said he would only accept donations from individuals who are Maine residents and not involved in real estate development. 

LaCasse’s reports show $1,000 in her coffers has come from out-of-state donors, with $800 from MoveOn.org, a national progressive public policy advocacy group and political action committee.

The races in council District 4 and District 5 are less expensive so far; incumbent District 4 Councilor Justin Costa reported $2,200 in contributions and $100 in hand, while challenger Kim Rich reported more than $1,500 in contributions.

The candidates have spent almost the same amount, with Costa at $350 and Rich at $376.

In District 5, where Councilor David Brenerman is not seeking re-election, Marpheen Chann (filing as Marpheen Chann-Berry) and Kim Cook filed finance reports. Craig C. Dorais has also taken out nomination papers, but has not exceeded the $500 reporting threshold for potential candidates.

Cook received a fundraising boost and endorsement from Brennan; she was treasurer of his 2014 campaign. Brenerman reported $1,300 on hand before his decision not to run, and then donated $800 to Cook. 

The contribution is part of the $4,550 Cook received, while she has spent almost $1,300. Chan-Berry reported raising more than $1,600, with an additional $320 in-kind contributions, and spending $536.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Bree LaCasse announces her Portland City Council candidacy in June. She has raised more than $19,000 for her campaign.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.
  • Caitlin O

    $20k for a council race? What is this city’s politics coming to… prepare yourselves for the inevitable robocalls!