Mayoral campaign finances: PAC spends $11K on Portland candidate Rathband

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PORTLAND — The first campaign finance reports for the city’s mayoral election have been turned in by a pro-business political action committee that has already spent thousands of dollars on a candidate.

And the PAC’s president says they’re not finished yet.

The report, filed Oct. 24, comes from the Portland Committee on Economic Development, which lists Daniel Pepice as president and Drew Swenson as vice president.

The group spent $11,200, mostly for radio ads, within two days on behalf of Jed Rathband, a 39-year-old East Bayside Democrat who this week received the endorsement of the Portland Community Chamber.

(The chamber also said City Councilors David Marshall, Nicholas Mavodones and former state Sen. Ethan Strimling “are worthy of mention” and encouraged voters to rank them high on their ballots.)

Pepice, who splits his time between Manhattan and Portland, is part owner of the 37-A Gallery on Wharf Street. He said came to Portland about 13 years ago to attend Maine College of Art.

“I’ve always liked Portland a place to live and work, but it’s hard for me to make money here, honestly,” the 32-year-old said. “A lot of money always comes from outside the city. So I see the city growing in a way that’s exciting and I want to support that.”

Rathband has touted the importance of local innovators during his campaign, saying it is more realistic for the city to attract 1,000 innovators who will create 10 jobs each, rather than trying to lure one business that will create 10,000 jobs.

Pepice said other active members of the PAC include advertising and public relations consultant Frank Gallagher, real estate broker Jim Brady and attorney Tom Federle, whose clients include Donald Sussman, the husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Swenson, of Swenson & Co., is a developer of Riverwalk, LLC., which built the Ocean Gateway garage.

Pepice said the group continues to raise money and plans on spending more money in the coming days on Rathband’s behalf.

“We’re looking at other ways to get our message out,” he said. “Our plan is to end up broke.”

Candidate Charles Bragdon, meanwhile, was the first to turn in his pre-election report. So far, he has spent more than $1,100 on his campaign, mostly of his own money. About $350 of that was for advertising in his newspaper, the Portland Maine Gazette.

Election Administrator Bud Philbrick said the only other active PACs in the city are the Maine League of Young Voters and Island Independence.

The deadline for filing pre-election reports is Friday afternoon.

Randy Billings can be reached a781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings

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