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.
He said the omissions may have been an oversight. He did not respond to a request to fill in the blanks yesterday.
“I did it quickly when I filled out the information in Boston,” Moran said about the income and asset disclosure forms required of all statehouse candidates.
Moran also has declined to identify the properties he owns, but said they are apartments in Lawrence and Methuen.
The financial disclosure form Moran filed for his campaign organization this week shows 27 contributors, about half from inside the 17 Essex House District, which was redrawn this year to drop sections of Tewksbury and now includes parts of Lawrence, North Andover and Methuen. For both candidates, the form lists contributions and expenses between Aug. 20 and Oct. 15.
Moran’s biggest contributors were Democrats for Education Reform, a Boston political action committee, and George Papadopoulus, a Quincy real estate developer. Both gave $500.
Most of the $1,447 Moran has spent since August has been for printed materials such as palm cards, his disclosure form shows.
Cuff had just 14 donors, all but one from outside the district. His biggest donors were Josephine Riley, a Lynnfield homemaker, who gave $500; Stephen Boksanski, a lobbyist from Winchester, who gave $200; and John Spillame, a financial consultant from Braintree, who gave $200.
Most of the $3,765 Cuff has spent since August was for printing and mailing brochures.
Headed into the last weeks of the campaign on Oct. 15, Cuff had $3,366 in the bank. Moran had $5,567.
Cuff said Moran’s apparent inattention to fund-raising in his race for the statehouse is consistent with his earlier campaigns for Lawrence City Council, when he has spent little to win big. He said Moran instead relies on a get-out-the-vote effort that he said was “mobilized by the Lantigua machine,” referring to Mayor William Lantigua.
Moran and Lantigua could not be reached for a response late yesterday about what role Lantigua may have in his campaign, but Moran noted earlier that he has not sought Lantigua’s endorsement.
“Right now, I’m just working on my own campaign,” Moran said. “I’m knocking on a lot of doors. “