Bob Healey spent $0.0005 for every vote he got

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Moderate Party gubernatorial nominee Bob Healey may have set a new record when it comes to how little money a candidate has to spend to win piles of votes.

Healey spent a grand total of $35.31 on his campaign for governor yet managed to win a stunning 67,707 votes in Tuesday’s election, according to financial filings and preliminary returns from the R.I. Board of Elections. Healey told on Wednesday he spent about $3 more in the closing days of the race, bringing his total spending to around $38.

That works out to a campaign cost of $0.0005 for each vote he received, or five ten-thousandths of a penny per vote. Healey said he spent the $35.31 he reported – which he paid for himself – on a cell phone and mobile minutes.

“It’s amazing what $35 can do,” Healy told Eyewitness News on Wednesday morning. “As I’ve been saying, if we only spent $75, $80, we might’ve won the race.” This was Healey’s fourth run for governor; he previously ran in 1986, 1994 and 1998. He has also run for lieutenant governor multiple times, most recently in 2010.

To put Healey’s frugality in perspective, another candidate who self-funded this year – Clay Pell, who poured $3.4 million of his own money into his third-place bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination – spent roughly $111 for each of the 34,515 votes he received, or 212,843 times more than Healey.

Unsurprisingly, Democratic Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo and Republican gubernatorial nominee Allan Fung spent vastly more than Healey on their campaigns, which ended with Raimondo getting 40% of the vote and Fung coming in second with 36%.

Fung’s campaign outspent Raimondo’s between Sept. 2 and Oct. 27, shelling out $1.2 million on TV campaign ads, staff and supplies, according to his most recent Board of Elections filings. Preliminary results show Fung received 111,291 votes for governor, putting his spending at $10.62 per vote.

Raimondo’s campaign spent $1.1 million between Sept. 2 and Oct. 27, according to her most recent filings. Preliminary results show Raimondo received 123,450 votes for governor, putting her spending at $8.59 per vote.

However, Raimondo spent vastly more than Fung when expenses during the primary are included, which takes into account the money she spent battling Pell and Angel Taveras for the Democratic nomination.

Raimondo’s campaign spent $5.4 million from the start of 2014 through Oct. 27, or $30.54 per vote she received on Tuesday and in the primary combined. Fung spent $1.8 million through the year, or $13.86 per vote he got in the two elections.

All told, the six major candidates for governor – Raimondo, Fung, Healey, Taveras, Pell and Republican Ken Block – spent $14.9 million on campaign expenses from the start of 2013 through October, according to an analysis of the candidates’ Board of Elections filings. That is almost certainly a record amount in Rhode Island.

In addition, outside groups and the two major political parties also poured well over $1 million into the race, particularly in the final weeks as Raimondo and Fung battled to win.

Ted Nesi ( ) covers politics and the economy for and writes the Nesi’s Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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