By STEVE LeBLANC
---- — BOSTON (AP) — The election of Massachusetts’ next governor won’t happen for nearly a year, but candidates for the state’s top political office are already busily stockpiling money.
At the end of November, Democratic state Treasurer Steven Grossman had the most cash on hand in his account — $847,182 — putting him well ahead of any of the other candidates vying for the corner office on Beacon Hill.
But Republican Charlie Baker has been pulling in contributions at a faster clip recently, outpacing all other GOP and Democratic candidates in the past two months.
Baker collected $193,922 in November and $261,370 in October. But Baker has also been spending his money quickly, ending last month with $236,488 in his account. A second Republican candidate, Mark Fisher, had $44,912 in his account at the end of November.
Grossman has been one of the more disciplined of the candidates.
A year ago he had $199,604 in his account, but has been steadily pulling in contributions while keeping his expenses in check. In November he took in $126,834 in contributions and spent $53,347.
Of the other declared Democratic candidates, Attorney General Martha Coakley had the second most in her account at the end of November with $285,273. She collected $55,094 in November and $89,485 in October.
Coakley was followed on the Democratic side by former federal and state homeland security official Juliette Kayyem who ended November with $222,717 in her account followed by Don Berwick — a Newton pediatrician and former head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — with $155,521, and former Wellesley Selectman Joseph Avellone with $88,368.
Independent Jeffrey McCormick, a Boston venture capitalist and founder of the investment firm Saturn Partners, had $60,030 in his account as of the end of November. McCormick has contributed $100,000 to his own campaign.
The money chase may seem early, but successful contests for governor in Massachusetts can cost $6 million to $10 million.
Running a campaign isn’t cheap.
Baker, for instance, spent $160,567 in November as he continued to ramp up his campaign. Those expenses are typical for gubernatorial candidacies, including rent, payroll, website costs and phone bills.
Baker only announced his decision to run in September.
Candidates, especially newcomers to elected politics in Massachusetts, also use early demonstration of fundraising prowess to help lend legitimacy to their campaigns in the hopes of building momentum.
In early November, Kayyem boasted of raising more than $333,000 in the first 72 days of her campaign, saying that “not only has the initial support been overwhelming, but it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.”
The candidates are vying for the seat currently held by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who has said he won’t seek re-election next year after serving two terms.