Despite historic candidacy, are national gay donors passing over Michaud?

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud

A recent report from Politico indicates they are.

The beltway magazine has a list of 170 big donors and bundlers known to focus on gay rights, and checked Michaud’s donors against that list. Here’s what they found:

As a matter of dollars and cents, it’s clear that Michaud faces a significant LGBT fundraising gap. From a list of about 170 LGBT and gay rights-oriented activists and donors compiled by POLITICO — Obama bundlers, board members and donors to major gay rights groups and political action committees — Michaud has collected only $19,600.

That averages out to about $114 per donor (Michaud’s campaign announced in July that the average donation from all contributors was about $78.)

When [Wisconsin’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator] ran for Senate in 2012, the total was almost 10 times — $170,700, or nearly $1,000 per person.

Politico finds that Michaud, who came out as gay in November, exactly one year before election day, “has been conspicuously shortchanged by many of the wealthiest and most influential gay donors in Democratic politics.” (For what it’s worth, the Politico story was posted before Tuesday’s campaign finance deadline, so it only included contributions to Michaud up to July 15.)

There’s plenty of reasons that “influential gay donors” may be skipping over Mike. Maybe they’re just not that aware of his candidacy. Maybe, as the Politico reporter notes, it’s because Maine has already won gay marriage and other protections for LGBT people, and is off the radar of advocates and allies. Maybe they were swayed independent candidate Eliot Cutler’s constant questioning of Michaud’s record on LGBT rights.

I’d say, though, the answer is a little more obvious: While Michaud’s election would make him the first openly gay man to be elected governor, he’s said since Day One that he doesn’t plan to make his sexuality an issue in the campaign.

And aside from one D.C. fundraiser back in December and his acceptance of Portland Pride’s invitation that he lead the group’s annual parade, I haven’t seen much that indicates he wasn’t sincere in saying that “gay” will not be one of his campaign platforms. It hasn’t come up in any public Michaud campaign event, including the most high-profile stump stop so far; when former President Bill Clinton appeared alongside Michaud in Portland.

So while it may be the case that Michaud’s not pulling as much cash from gay rights-advocates as you’d expect, it might not be because they’re skipping him; It could be because he’s skipping them.

In case you missed the link at the top of this piece, you can read the entire Politico piece here.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.