AUGUSTA, Maine --Two contestants for the Republican nomination for governor said Thursday they were closing in on winning clearance for public funding under Maine's clean elections system.
Sen. Chandler Woodcock of Farmington said he would be turning in the required 2,500 checks of $5 each to the Maine Ethics Commission. Meanwhile, Sen. Peter Mills of Cornville said he had collected more than 2,600 qualifying contributions.
To gain clean election funding, candidates must agree to forgo most private financing.
Prospective Clean Election candidates can collect up to $50,000 in private donations, with no single donation exceeding $100, as "seed money" to start up their campaigns.
In order to qualify for public funding, party-affiliated candidates must collect 2,500 donations of $5 dollars by April 18.
Nonparty or independent candidates have until June 2.
Woodcock and Mills are vying with former congressman David Emery of St. George for the right to bear the Republican standard in this year's Blaine House election.
Emery, like incumbent Democrat John Baldacci, is not seeking public financing for his campaign.
The next campaign finance reporting deadline is May 2.
January reports showed Baldacci had collected more than twice as much in contributions for his re-election campaign as all other candidates combined.
Baldacci's campaign had raised $199,566 in his privately funded campaign for a second Blaine House term. Factoring in expenditures, his campaign had a cash balance of $140,651.
Mills had raised $39,445 and spent $31,003, while Woodcock reported raising $12,445 and spending $6,389.
Emery reported raising $30,717 while spending $7,530, leaving a $23,187 cash balance in his privately funded campaign.
A Strategic Marketing Services poll released last month with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points gave Baldacci double-digit advantages among likely Maine voters in different scenarios against Emery, Mills and Woodcock.
The poll also showed more than a third undecided.
Both of Maine's major political parties will feature contested gubernatorial primaries on June 13.
On the Democratic side, Baldacci faces Christopher Miller of Gray