LAWRENCE – Realtor Frank Moran and lobbyist Kevin Cuff are not poor men, but the two so far have run a poor man’s campaign for the 17th Essex House seat now held by Paul Adams.
Adams and two others who ran for the seat two years ago spent a total of about $180,000. But by Oct. 15 – the last date for which numbers are available - Moran and Cuff together had spent just $9,000 to win the seat, making their race one of the most low-budget among the contested legislative races this year.
“There’s not a lot of money being spent,” Cuff said yesterday in uncharacteristic understatement, although he said he may spend up to $6,000 more by the end of the race Nov. 6, which would come on top of the $3,808 he spent by Oct. 15. Cuff is running as an independent.
Even if Moran, a Democrat, also doubles or triples the $5,215 he’s spent so far, spending for the 17th Essex will amount to a fraction of what’s being spent in neighboring districts, including the 16th, where incumbent Republican James Lyons and Democratic challenger Barbara L’Italien spent nearly $100,000 by Oct. 15.
And while statehouse candidates typically are the biggest donors to their own campaigns – in part because they can give unlimited amounts – Moran has given his campaign nothing so far and Cuff has loaned himself just $600. Two years ago, Adams and his family members spent as much as $60,000 on his campaign and were later fined for exceeding contribution limits.
Cuff, executive director of Community Mortgage Lenders of America, an industry group, earned $120,000 last year, according to the Statement of Financial Interest he filed with the State Ethics Commission.
Moran reported earning $17,000 as Lawrence City Council president, but did not disclose what he earned as a Realtor with Prudential First Choice Realty, and also did not disclose income from the rental properties he owns.