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Following the Money

Before Democratic gubernatorial candidates Frank Caprio and Patrick Lynch filed their quarterly campaign finance reports yesterday, we knew the broad outlines: Lynch, who has trailed Caprio by a wide margin in fundraising to date, was finally raising money at roughly the same pace as his rival.

The filings confirmed that. Caprio raised about $202,000 in the final quarter of 2009 and Lynch raised about $215,000. Caprio now has $1.5 million on hand to Lynch's $620,000.

Mike Mikus, campaign manager for Lynch, said his campaign has the momentum. "It shows that people are coalescing around Patrick," he said. The Caprio campaign issued this statement: "The Caprio Campaign is proud to report a record breaking year, after raising an average of over $200,000 per quarter. Despite being a year away from election, we were able to raise more money than any other non-federal candidate in Rhode Island history. It is a strong testament to Rhode Islanders' faith in Frank's leadership."

Some detail from the reports: Lynch spent $10,000 in late October hiring Stanford Campaigns, a consulting firm based in Austin, Texas that specializes in opposition research - that is, sussing out lines of attack on opponents. And he spent significant cash on meals - including a few trips to McDonald's. Donations came from a mix of lawyers, labor PACs and health care interests.

Caprio, meanwhile, piled up donations from downtown law firms and spent $11,000 with polling firm Anzalone Liszt Research - out of Birmingham, Alabama - in October. He gave about $90,000 to Primedia, the Warwick media firm, for consulting and media buys. The bulk of that spending came in November, before the campaign suspended what was intially billed as a long-running advertising campaign. A $20,000 payment went to Ralston Lapp Media, the Washington firm that produced Caprio's ads.

Caprio's early advertising gambit - too early, some observers said - came at a cost. But he's got the luxury of a big fundraising lead.

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