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Gov. Patrick faces sluggish fundraising

Associated Press | 7/13/2010, 8:03 p.m.

Gov. Deval Patrick is not only trailing Republican Charles Baker in the race to stockpile campaign cash, he’s also trailing his own fundraising efforts four years ago when he was a political newcomer making his first bid for statewide office.

During each of the past six months, the Democratic incumbent has raised less than he did during each of the first six months of 2006, according to a review of campaign finance records by the Associated Press.

At times, the difference has been stark.

In January 2006, Patrick, then still introducing himself to voters, pulled in a hefty $344,563 in campaign donations.

This past January, Patrick raised a mere $78,815, despite enjoying all the perks of the state’s highest political office and being the de facto leader of the state Democratic Party.

The problem wasn’t limited to one month.

This past February, Patrick raised $185,553, about half of the $358,605 he raised in February, 2006. And in May, Patrick collected $224,588, compared to the $446,470 he raised during the same month four years ago.

The sluggish fundraising pace could make it harder for Patrick to fend off a challenge from Baker, who has consistently outpaced Patrick every month this year. Independent candidate Timothy Cahill has been raising less than Patrick and Baker in recent months, but entered the race with about $3 million tucked away.

Four years ago, Patrick, much like Baker, had more time to devote to fundraising. And four years ago, Patrick, also like Baker, had to work to establish a public profile.

Unlike Baker, Patrick can now use the bully pulpit of the governor’s office to keep his name and face in the spotlight.

Patrick’s campaign officials say they’re confident he’ll have enough money to mount a vigorous defense of his first term.

“We are keeping pace with Republican Charles Baker and Tim Cahill, who are clearly benefiting from their insider connections,” said spokesman Alex Goldstein. “Baker has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from insiders in the health care industry.”

Baker was president of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for a decade before stepping down to run for governor. Baker’s campaign said his success in fundraising is just one measure of the dissatisfaction voters have with Patrick and other Statehouse Democrats.

“We’re very proud of the more than 15,000 individual contributors we’ve had to the campaign thus far, which we think is an indication of just how many people have had enough of Beacon Hill,” said Baker spokesman Rick Gorka.

The AP’s review also painted a broader picture of which cities and towns are contributing the most to the top three candidates.

Although Patrick and Baker shared some of the same towns like Boston, Wellesley and Newton, Baker’s list includes wealthier communities like Weston, Marblehead and Baker’s hometown of Swampscott, while Patrick’s list includes more politically liberal cities and towns like Cambridge, Brookline and Lexington.

Patrick’s hometown of Milton also made his top 10 list.

Cahill’s hometown of Quincy topped his list, which also showed him drawing strong support from South Shore communities like Weymouth, Hingham and Braintree.

The campaign records also showed a difference in the level of contributions each candidate received.

Close to half of the $4.9 million in contributions to Baker’s campaign, about 44 percent, came in $500 donations, the most allowed under Massachusetts campaign finance laws.

That’s compared to less than a third, about 30 percent, of the $2.4 million in donations to Patrick’s campaign that came in $500 donations — about the same rate as those giving to Cahill, who collected about $1.1 million in the past year.

Cahill spokeswoman Amy Birmingham said it’s not surprising Baker has been able to tap big money donors.

“He spent his time as CEO of a health insurance company working to raise premiums on the middle class that would benefit the health insurance industry,” she said. “Now those health insurance executives are opening up their wallets to pay him back.”

Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein raised just under $80,000 in the past year, much of it from liberal-leaning communities like Cambridge, Amherst, Brookline and her hometown of Lexington.

Associated Press