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Lamontagne leads money race

Candidates report campaign finances

Following the release of yesterday's fundraising numbers, one thing is clear in New Hampshire's race for governor: Ovide Lamontagne has a lot more money than everybody else.

Reporting his campaign's finances to the secretary of state for the first time, Lamontagne revealed $718,000 remaining from the nearly $1.2 million he has raised so far. That's $600,000 more cash on hand than any other candidate for the state's corner office.

In a statement, the Republican front-runner said he and his wife, Bettie, "are extraordinarily grateful to the host of supporters who have given to our campaign because of their belief in my message of fiscal discipline, government reform, and economic prosperity."

"Because of their support, we have the resources necessary to continue running the aggressive, town-to-town, issues focused campaign the people of New Hampshire expect," he said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan has raised nearly as much as Lamontagne. But of the $930,000 donated to the former state senator's campaign, only $100,000 remains three weeks before the Sept. 11 primary.

The difference in spending between Lamontagne and Hassan can be attributed to the effort Hassan is expending in her primary battle with former state senator Jackie Cilley. Where Hassan has made three primary television ads, Lamontagne premiered his first spot last week. Hassan campaign manager Matt Burgess said Hassan is spending about $70,000 a week on TV ads, adding that Hassan's media buys match her current fundraising pace.

"With 20 days until the primary, the campaign has been advertising on WMUR and cable television over the last weeks and is continuing an aggressive field effort with hundreds of voters coming out to see Hassan at ice cream socials and other events across the state," read a statement announcing Hassan's fundraising numbers.

Cilley has $52,000 on hand from the $269,000 that has been donated to her campaign. Lamontagne's primary opponent, Kevin Smith, has $101,000 on hand from the $342,000 he has raised.

Cilley said her campaign "demonstrates one thing that has been a constant in my life - the ability to stretch a dollar."

"As a mother of five and a small-business owner, I had to learn how to amplify a dollar or I wouldn't have been able to make ends meet," Cilley said. "I am doing this in my campaign and will continue to do so as governor."

While Lamontagne and Hassan remain more prolific fundraisers than their primary challengers, the impact of their money is still unclear, as recent polling shows voters are largely disengaged and undecided.

In a 555-person survey released last week by the University of New Hampshire, the margins of victory in hypothetical general election matchups between various combinations of Republicans Lamontagne and Smith and Democrats Cilley and Hassan all fell within the poll's 4.2 percent margin of error.

In the four hypothetical matchups, 33 to 39 percent of voters said they were undecided. Lamontagne, who has previously mounted unsuccessful campaigns for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House, has greater name recognition than the rest of the field, but 47 percent of voters said they didn't know enough about him to have an opinion. Between 72 and 74 percent of voters said they didn't have an opinion on Hassan, Cilley or Smith.

Along with the gubernatorial hopefuls, other candidates for state elections filed their financial reports yesterday. Some notable submissions:

• Colin Van Ostern, a Democrat running for the Executive Council seat representing Concord, has $124,000 cash on hand. That's more than any of the gubernatorial candidates except Lamontagne were carrying at the filing date. His Republican opponent, Michael Tierney of Contoocook, reported $674 on hand.

• Andy Sanborn, the former Henniker senator who moved to Bedford to represent a new district, has raised $110,000, with $80,000 remaining. His Republican primary opponent, longtime Bedford resident and state Rep. Ken Hawkins, has raised $38,000 and has half of that left. By comparison, Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen of Concord - with whom Sanborn would have clashed in the general election if he hadn't moved - reported raising $43,000 with $29,000 on hand.

• Senate President Peter Bragdon, a Milford Republican who is facing a primary challenge from Merrimack Town Councilor Dan Dwyer, has raised $75,000 with nearly $66,000 remaining. A committee supporting House Speaker Bill O'Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican, reported raising nearly $29,000 with about $9,000 on hand.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @mattspolar.)

Correction: This article originally indicated that Colin Van Ostern is not in a primary race. He is facing two Democratic challengers: John Shea and Shawn Mickelonis.

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