Mattiello spending big on re-election campaign

Speaker Mattiello 5-3-2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is pressing his financial advantage as he tries to fend off a tough re-election challenge from Republican National Committeeman Steven Frias.

Mattiello’s campaign spent $76,000 between Oct. 11 and Oct. 31, according to a filing late Tuesday with the R.I. Board of Elections, which was his last report due before the Nov. 8 election. That brings the speaker’s total campaign spending since July 1 to a whopping $186,000, though not all the money has gone to his own race.

Steven Frias
Steven Frias

Frias’s campaign spent almost $15,000 over the last three weeks, his own filing showed. That brings the GOP nominee’s total spending to $28,000 since he jumped into the race – giving Mattiello a more than 6-to-1 cash edge.

And that’s not all the money Mattiello has spent in recent months. The speaker’s political action committee (PAC), the Fund for Democratic Leadership, separately shelled out $72,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30, much of it for political consultants and donations to other candidates.

Frias does not have a PAC.

Mattiello and Frias are fighting to win over 10,693 registered voters who live in Western Cranston’s District 15. Their decision will have an outsize impact at the State House by deciding whether Mattiello remains as House Democrats’ leader.

Mattiello still has plenty of money available to spend, with about $230,000 in his campaign account and $44,000 in his PAC account as of Monday. Frias had slightly under $10,000 left.

The candidates aren’t the only ones trying to sway voters in District 15, as outside groups and individuals pour money into the race. The latest entrants include Taco CEO John Hazen White Jr., whose 501(c)3 nonprofit Lookout purchased an ad in Wednesday’s Cranston Herald endorsing Mattiello, and former Democratic Rep. Spencer Dickinson, who reported spending about $1,100 against the speaker Monday, repeating an action Dickinson took against Gordon Fox in 2012.

The two candidates will meet for their only debate of the campaign on Friday morning during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. A low-profile third candidate, independent Patrick Vallier, is also on the ballot.

Mattiello’s counterpart on the other side of the State House, Democratic Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, reported spending about $8,000 on her re-election campaign between Oct. 11 and Oct. 31. Her opponent, independent Sav Rebecchi, said he mailed his report Tuesday.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes The Saturday Morning Post and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram