Themis Klarides raised the most, but ended up third in cash on hand due to loans Leora Levy and Peter Lumaj made to their own campaigns. CTMIRROR.ORG

Updated 11:55 p.m.

Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti of Shelton and Democratic state Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo each raised about $145,000 in their first months as a candidate or exploratory candidate for governor in 2018, new highs for non-incumbents in the era of public financing in Connecticut.

Democrat Chris Mattei, a former federal prosecutor seeking office for the first time, closely followed the two experienced candidates, raising $118,343 in his first two-plus months as an exploratory candidate.

But Lauretti’s debut with $145,090 was the most impressive: As a declared candidate for governor participating in the voluntary public financing program, he was limited to individual contributions of no more than $100. As exploratory candidates, Lembo, who raised $143,701, and Mattei could accept up to $375.

To qualify for public financing, a candidate for governor must raise $250,000 in contributions of between $5 and $100, and 90 percent of the money must come from Connecticut donors. The public grants for a major-party nominee are about $6.5 million for the general election.

The field of would-be successors to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who announced on April 13 he would not seek a third term, is a mix of candidates and exploratory candidates. The latter can use their contributions for a range of state offices.

Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, R-Glastonbury, a declared candidate since December, reported raising $66,367, giving him more than $205,000 in qualifying contributions — about 80 percent of his $250,000.

Republican Peter Lumaj reported raising $74,425 for the quarter, bringing the total raised by his exploratory committee to $281,130 since September. Lumaj, who has raised major portions of his funds out of state, has raised little in qualifying contributions.

The finances of Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, a Republican, spanned two committees as he terminated an exploratory committee he opened in January and created a candidate committee on June 8. He raised $65,147 in the quarter: $24,763 through his exploratory committee and $40,384 through his candidate committee.

In total, Herbst now has raised $148,590 since January.

His first quarterly report as a candidate shows total receipts of $92,972. That’s the sum of $52,588 rolled over from his exploratory committee to his candidate committee, then added to the $40,384 he raised in his first weeks as a declared candidate.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, raised $70,990 in the quarter, bringing his total to $162,151 since November. Steve Obsitnik, another Republican, raised $92,840, bringing his total to $201,567.

Lauretti, Lembo and Mattei were among seven candidates or exploratory candidates who began fundraising in April. The others: Democrat Jonathan Harris, $88,000; Republican David Walker, $72,156; Democratic Mayor Joe Ganim of Bridgeport, $36,165; and Republican Joe Visconti, $2,150.

Harris, Walker and Ganim raised their money as exploratory candidates. Visconti is a declared candidate.

Walker, the former comptroller general of the U.S., filed papers Monday closing his exploratory committee and opening a candidate committee. Dan Drew, the Democratic mayor of Middletown, announced Monday night he will end the exploratory phase of his campaign Wednesday and become a declared candidate.

Collectively, the eight Republicans have raised more than $1.1 million, compared to about $600,000 by the five Democrats.

“It’s astonishing to see the number of people willing to invest in stopping Democrats in a so-called blue state,” said J.R Romano, the state Republican chairman.

“They’re all decent numbers,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, a Democratic strategist on both of Malloy’s successful campaigns.

Occhiogrosso said qualifying for public financing will be the hardest task for the candidates: “The sooner you take that off the table as an issue to worry about, the better off you are.”

Fundraising for Governor
*Tim Herbst also raised and spent money through an exploratory committee, which he closed last month to become a declared candidate.
Politician Party Status Raised in Q2 Cash on Hand Total Raised Money Spent Launch Date
Peter Lumaj Republican exploratory $74,425 $125,614 $281,130 $155,515 Sept. 6, 2016
Mark Boughton Republican exploratory $70,990 $84,299.00 $162,151 $77,872 Nov. 22, 2016
Prasad Srinivasan Republican candidate $66,367  $178,854 $205,311 $26,457 Dec. 16, 2016
Tim Herbst * Republican candidate $92,972 $80,909 $92,972*
($148,590 through both committees.)
$12,062 Jan. 11, 2017/ June 8, 2017
Dan Drew Democrat exploratory $71,006  $26,393 $177,133 $150,740 Jan. 12, 2017
Steve Obsitnik Republican exploratory $92,840  $109,984 $201,567 $92,671 Jan. 13, 2017
Mark Lauretti Republican candidate $145,090 $101,622 $145,090 $43,467 Apr. 5, 2017
David Walker Republican exploratory $72,156 $46,411 $72,156 $25,744 Apr. 10, 2017
Chris Mattei Democrat exploratory $118,343 $54,037 $118,343 $64,306 Apr. 18, 2017
Jonathan Harris Democrat exploratory $88,957 $46,925 $88,957 $42,031 Apr. 18, 2017
Joe Visconti Republican candidate $2,150 $497 $2,150 $1,652 Apr. 19, 2017
Kevin Lembo Democrat exploratory $143,701 $78,583 $143,701 $66,438 Apr. 27, 2017
Joe Ganim Democrat exploratory $36,165 $33,085 $36,165 $3,080 Apr. 28, 2017
State Elections Enforcement Commission

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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