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On Campaign Cash: Gravel, Cole Neck-and-Neck, Dunne Distant 3rd

Campaign finance reports were filed this week by each of the candidates in the special election race for Peabody's next state representative.

When it comes to how much money the candidates raised over the past three months, it would appear a Republican has a good shot at representing Peabody on Beacon Hill again.

Another round of campaign finance reports were filed this week by the three candidates vying to become the city's next state representative and the numbers show political newcomer Leah Cole out-raised both of her well-established opponents in the race in the days leading up to the April 2 special election.

But then again, nearly all of her money has come from outside Peabody.

Cole, a 24-year-old Republican in her first bid for elected office, raised $18,694 between Feb. 16 and March 15, compared to $16,068 by Dave Gravel, who is unenrolled, and just $2,090 by Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne. Cole and Gravel also both filed late contribution reports -- Cole for another $1,000 in donations and Gravel for $500.

Combined with the contributions the candidates reported prior to the party primaries March 5, Gravel, a city councilor, still has a slight edge on cash over Cole, while Dunne, a School Committee member, trails far behind.

Cole's campaign sent out a press statement on Tuesday, saying she had raised more than both her opponents combined in the last reporting period.

“I’m working hard. I’m out-raising my opponents, and out-working them too. When I go door-to-door every single day, voters are responding to my message and my energy,” Cole said. “They see how hard I’m working and want that kind of work ethic and dedicated advocacy for them on Beacon Hill.”

Cole also noted that people across the state are closely watching the race. Her finances certainly reflect that.

Among 178 itemized donations she reported, only 14 are from Peabody residents along with a $1,900 personal loan to her campaign. The rest of the donations come from all over the state and a few out-of-state donors.

In the mix of supporters, some contributors stand out: former GOP gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker (who has now endorsed Cole), state Reps. Donald Wong (R-Saugus) and Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk), a few campaign committees for Bay State Republicans, Citizens for Limited Taxation's 2-1/2 PAC (the group also endorsed Cole), the Mass. Republican Municipal Coalition PAC and the Mass. Republican House PAC.

Cole acknowledges much of her support is generated elsewhere, but says she's confident it will translate into votes in Peabody.

Gravel, meanwhile, has amassed a grand total of $32,113 since Jan. 1, although in this week's campaign finance report, $10,000 of Gravel's latest receipts was a personal loan to his campaign.

Among his supporters in the second half of the campaign, Gravel counts former School Committee member Mark Bartkiewicz and city councilors Tom Gould and Anne Manning-Martin, along with Peabody High coach Fernando Braz, Arthur Holden and Phil Richard. Some of the same donors' names showed up in the pre-primary filings, along with retired councilor Fred Murtagh, Chuck Holden, Energi CEO Brian McCarthy and other businessmen.

Both Gravel and Dunne show contributions mainly from Peabody voters, and in that regard, Dunne actually appears to outpace Gravel by a solid margin, according to finance reports. Dunne's latest report shows nearly double the individual Peabody donors than Gravel, although he's raised several thousand more than she has. 

Among Dunne's donors are fellow School Committee members Brandi Carpenter, David McGeney, Tom Rossignoll and Ed Charest, Mayor Ted Bettencourt, retired police officer and Library Trustee Gerald Bellew, Scott Frasca, former state Rep. Tom Walsh, Tom Gould, Dick Jarvis (Joyce Spiliotis' husband), Michael Schulze and Mary Mavroules, wife of late former Mayor and Congressman Nicholas Mavroules.

Dunne has said she isn't too concerned about the disparity in finances, and that she has continued to knock on doors and define herself with a personal touch that transcends who has the largest pile of money.

In regard to spending in the latest filing period, Cole reported $16,516 in expenses, mostly on campaign mailings and postage. As for her paid campaign manager, she reported spending $366 this time.

Gravel spent $8,488, mostly on postcard mailings, lawn signs, online advertising and for a fundraising social, while Dunne spent $4,214, mostly on campaign literature, online advertising and postage.

In total for the campaign so far, Cole reported spending $21,037, Gravel $18,795 and Dunne $5,428.

The special election is April 2 for the 12th Essex District to fill the vacant seat left by the death of Joyce Spiliotis.

Steven Burke March 27, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Why would anyone outside of Massachusetts vote for a young, inexperienced candidate for State Representative unless he/she were a front or proxy for a special interest?
Karl March 27, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Simple. We need change. Notice who is on the list of contributors to Dunne's campaign. All the powers that be here in Peabody. Same old same old. That is reason enough for me to vote for someone else. We need some serious change and why not start with a 24 year old, inexperienced young woman? People always complain that things never change and the system is corrupt, yet we continually vote the same people back into office regardless of whether they produce results. This is your chance to start changing things and it would send a pretty big message to the lifetime politicians. Why is she a proxy for special interests, because she's a republican? We know Dunne will serve the special interests. The woman never saw a tax she didn't like and apparently that's ok with all those Peabody pols who support her.
Ted Lempner March 27, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Are you kidding me? You won't get change with Cole. You'd get a puppet who is beholden to Right Wing special interest groups as well as other politicians outside of Peabody. Do you think she is getting all that outside money without any strings attached?
Karl March 27, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Ooooh! Right wing special interest groups! The only thing I know is there will be no change, zero, with the other two candidates. I'm up for someone new. If she doesn't get the job done then vote her out next election, just like I would anyone else.
Dexter McManus March 28, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Steven, people outside of Massachusetts can't vote for Leah Cole. For that matter, not even every one in Peabody can. Only people in this district. Ted. You are right. She signed the decades old Norquist pledge. I don't think we need Grover in Peabody. She could have a bright future in politics but she is reading from an inept scipt. This pledge helped us get to the fiscal cliff. She bound herself to her pledge and not to the people. Not a good start.

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