Pingree fundraising nears $2 million mark

Posted Oct. 23, 2008, at 9:05 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Democrat Chellie Pingree raised $141,966 more than Republican Charlie Summers in Maine’s 1st Congressional District race in the quarter ending Sept. 30.

That bringing her fundraising total for the campaign to $1,977,732, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The Pingree campaign raised $382,947 from July to September and had $358,628 to spend as of Sept. 30. Summers raised $240,981 during the third quarter, bringing his total receipts to $530,353, with $137,382 cash on hand.

The two are competing for the House seat that Democratic Rep. Tom Allen is leaving to challenge Republican Sen. Susan Collins next month.

Much of Pingree’s money was raised before the June 10 Democratic primary. According to filings with the commission, Pingree, who won the six-way primary race with 44 percent of the vote, raised $1.59 million and spent $1.4 million as of June 30.

Adam Cote, who came in second in the Democratic primary with 28 percent of the vote, raised $660,471 as of June 30, the secondhighest amount raised for the primary.

Pingree faced a number of strong opponents in the primary, said Mark Brewer, assistant professor of political science at the University of Maine in Orono. “And running a competitive race in that primary campaign certainly was going to cost money,” Brewer said. “So I think it was certainly appropriate to raise that much.”

The biggest expense has been television advertising, said Willy Ritch, the Pingree campaign spokesman. “It’s expensive to buy TV time,” he said.

Ritch said that nearly one-third of the third-quarter donations came from online contributions and more than 700 persons were first-time contributors. Altogether nearly 5,000 people contributed to the campaign, 77 percent of whom gave less than $200, Ritch said. The names of people who contribute less than $200 are not required to be reported in the filings with the election commission.

“Chellie continues to build momentum, and she has a tremendous amount of grassroots support,” Ritch said in a statement. “Every day new supporters come to the campaign.”

Summers’ campaign manager, Chris Averill, said the majority of Summers’ third-quarter contributors were new to the campaign.

“Voters aren’t going to vote on how much each campaign has raised,” Averill said. “They are going to vote on issues that matter to them and messages that they hear from each campaign and each candidate about solutions they have to deal with our problems that we have in America and challenges we face.”

Pingree was first elected in 1992 to the Maine Senate and became Maine’s second female Senate majority leader in 1996. In 2002 she ran for the U.S. Senate against Collins and lost by 16 percentage points. Pingree also served as president and CEO of Common Cause, a non-partisan citizen lobbying group based in Washington.

Pingree’s name recognition and history in Maine politics helps her to raise money, Brewer said. Pingree also is more successful at raising money because she is recognized as the frontrunner, Brewer said. And her work in Washington also built connections with out-of-state donors, he said.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud raised $118,137 during the most recent three-month period, according to filings with the commission. He has raised a total of $748,293 and had $455,191 cash to spend as of Sept. 30.

Republican John Frary reported third-quarter fundraising of $76,288, bringing his total to $221,939, with $15,962 cash on hand. All but $13,227 that the campaign has raised comes from the candidate himself.

“The money I spent comes almost entirely from my own savings,” Frary said. “I didn’t wish to have any special interest PAC or union contributions.”

He said his money was spent almost entirely on advertisements in local newspapers throughout the district and he would keep spending on advertisements.

“My plan … is to go wherever I’m invited to address a crowd of people,” Frary said.

Michaud campaign manager Greg Olson said: “People are very concerned about the economy. We are going to campaign hard for the next several weeks, meeting the voters and asking them to send Michaud back to Congress.”

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