The 2016 gubernatorial race is underway, even without any candidates officially announcing a run. Campaign finance filings from Matt Dunne, a former legislator, Google executive and 2010 gubernatorial candidate, show the Hartland Democrat has raised $134,000 in campaign funds for the campaign he’s considering.
Dunne raised all of the money in an eight-day period, but says he still hasn’t decided whether or not to run.
"This campaign finance report and the support that we've seen is certainly one important step, but we're going to continue to reach out to folks to make sure that we're ready to go, and when we feel confident of that, we will make a decision," he said Wednesday.
Dunne’s not alone as a possible candidate, though he is the only who has so far filed campaign finance reports for a gubernatorial run. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, House Speaker Shap Smith and Transportation Secretary Sue Minter have yet to announce their intentions. Rep. Peter Welch announced last month after some consideration that he would seek reelection to Congress rather than pursue the gubernatorial nomination.
Gov. Peter Shumlin announced his decision not to seek a fourth term early last month.
Potential candidates have until midnight July 15 to file their finance reports. But by Wednesday afternoon Dunne was the only potential candidate to file any fundraising totals. Of his $134,000, about half of the contributions came from out-of-state, and $39,250 came from California, where Google is based.
Smith and Scott both reported fundraising totals of zero for the current campaign cycle, and both listed their current offices — not the governorship — on fundraising forms as the office they were seeking. Smith said he doesn’t plan to file a campaign finance report for a gubernatorial campaign in this filing period.
Smith said Dunne’s fundraising spree doesn't effect his thinking about the upcoming decision on whether or not to run for governor.
"I've always expected that there would be a robust race for governor and that there would be robust fundraising by everybody involved," Smith said Wednesday. "My view is that I just want to make sure that a gubernatorial run is supported by Vermonters and that it's supported by my family, and the decision will be based on those two factors, not on what other people are doing."
Scott reported a total surplus from the 2014 campaign of $98,654.27, which would give the Republican lieutenant governor a head start in fundraising if he decides to pursue the state’s highest office.
"I think you go into every election knowing that you're going to have to raise money in order to be successful so it's not any different for this it's just more money but at the same time you know that it's part of the game," Scott said.
Transportation Secretary Sue Minter didn't make any campaign finance filings by 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Dunne said he's "serious about a potential race for governor," and he's encouraged by the financial support.