Governor Charlie Baker’s political team told its top fundraisers in May that the goal for the summer was to have $10 million on hand come September — a deep warchest for his all-but-declared 2018 re-election bid.
The team outlined the plan during an evening meeting at the World Trade Center in the Seaport District, pointing to Cape Cod country-club fundraisers and the four campaign finance accounts used by Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. It was an ambitious benchmark, they said, but necessary if they wanted to reach their long-term goal of a record-shattering $30 million before next year’s election.
And it looks like they made it.
Between them, Baker and Polito raised more than $1.2 million from June 1 to Aug. 31 for their individual accounts. The state Republican Party, which Baker controls, took in more than $150,000. A federal account – which lets Baker skirt the $1,000 state limit on individual contributions and accept checks up to $43,900 – has not reported its July and August receipts, but wrapped up June with more than $160,000.
Pooled together, the four accounts show nearly $9.8 million on hand. During the three-month summer window, without including the final two months for the federal account, the operations swept up more than $1.5 million.
Baker’s pursuers lag dramatically in the cash race. Former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez’s account had $41,014 at the end of August, Newton Mayor Setti Warren shows $24,152, and environmentalist Robert Massie had $13,439.
Together, the three Democrats’ bank accounts total about $27,000 less than Baker and Polito took in for their individual accounts on the final day of August, when together they raised more than $106,000.
Baker’s team has an even more ambitious fundraising blueprint for the final four months of the year, hoping to pile on another $8.5 million, the May finance committee meeting was told.
For months, Baker has said he and Polito would decide this fall whether to seek a second term, though their political operation has never slowed.
While his eventual opponent’s efforts will likely be augmented by Democratic outside groups, Baker also appears likely to benefit from advertising by the Republican Governors Association, a group with which he maintains close ties and which spent more than $11 million on his behalf in 2014.
Baker enters the fall campaign season in a commanding position. Polls regularly find the Swampscott Republican among the nation’s most popular governors, he leads his prospective Democratic rivals in hypothetical match-ups, and Democratic activists have yet to coalesce behind a candidate.
Meanwhile, he already has support from a onetime Democratic gubernatorial hopeful. At an Aug. 23 event at Oakley Country Club, the host committee included former state attorney general Tom Reilly. Reilly ran unsuccessfully for the nomination in 2006, before backing Baker in 2010.