Advancing Connecticut, a new super PAC solely financed by the Republican Governors Association, reported Friday spending $920,000 on advertising attacking Gov. Ned Lamont on broadcast and cable television.
Its opposite operation, the Stronger CT committee financed by the Democratic Governors Association, has spent $1.4 million since mid-July opposing the Republican nominee, Bob Stefanowski.
The latest round of reported expenditures brings total spending on Connecticut’s gubernatorial race to at least $14.6 million. So far, it’s a fairly even fight, with $7.4 million spent by Republicans and $7.2 million by Democrats.
Needless to say, more is to come with three more months of campaigning. Neither candidate faces a challenge in Tuesday’s primaries.
The Democratic governor and his Republican challenger opted out of the state’s voluntary Citizens’ Election Program, as they did when they faced each other for the first time in 2018.
This year, participation in the Citizens’ Election Program would have limited their total spending to about $8 million each for the entire campaign, most in public grants of $7.7 million.
As of July 1, Stefanowski had spent $4.2 million of the $10 million he personally deposited into his campaign account. He’s also raised $1.1 million from donors. Lamont’s largely self-funded campaign spent $6.3 million.
Campaigns for state office in Connecticut are limited to maximum contributions of $3,500. The limit for participants in the public-financing program is $290.
But there is no limit on contributions to super PACs, and the top donors this year have contributed $750,000.
Aside from the RGA affiliate, there are two other super PACs opposing Lamont.
CT Truth PAC has spent nearly $1.6 million. Parents Against Stupid Stuff has spent $200,000 on a website, digital ads and direct mail faulting Lamont for failing to speak out against what it deems inappropriate sex education lessons.
The former is primarily funded by three businessmen: David Kelsey of Old Lyme and Thomas E. McInerney of Westport each gave $750,000; Raymond Debbane of Greenwich, an investor and chairman of Weight Watchers, gave $100,000.
The Democratic and Republican governors’ associations, which raise money from business interests and private donors, are the sole donors to Stronger CT and Advancing Connecticut.
With the money flowing through the groups’ national accounts, the money spent by the RGA and DGA in Connecticut cannot be readily assigned to specific donors.