House incumbents lead in fundraising

Posted July 19, 2010, at 11:36 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Incumbent Democrats are outdrawing their Republican challengers in campaign contributions in both of Maine’s U.S. House races, according to federal filings.

In the 1st Congressional District, figures filed with the Federal Election Commission show incumbent Rep. Chellie Pingree has raised more than $690,000, compared with $114,000 for GOP challenger Dean Scontras.

The report, which covers fundraising and spending from the beginning of this campaign cycle through June 30, also shows Pingree has spent just under $400,000 compared with the nearly $78,000 Scontras spent. Pingree, who is seeking a second House term, also reports $361,000 cash on hand, five times more than the $67,000 reported by Scontras.

In the 2nd District, four-term incumbent Rep. Mike Michaud reported $755,000 raised, while Republican challenger Jason Levesque reported nearly $217,000 in contributions through the close of the last reporting period.

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charles Webster acknowledged that incumbency normally gives candidates an edge and that money matters in campaigns. But he also said things are different this year because of voters’ discontent with direction the nation is headed.

“This is the perfect election cycle for people who have not been there to defeat someone who’s been [in office],” said Webster.

Asked how the GOP challengers can overcome the odds against them, Webster said, “Ever hear of a guy named Paul LePage? There’s your answer.”

Webster referred to the conservative Waterville mayor who was considered a long shot and was far outspent by most of his six rivals in last month’s Republican gubernatorial primary but emerged with 38 percent of the vote.

Democrats said their candidates, besides having a financial edge, are more closely aligned with Maine voters.

“I would also point to Paul LePage and say that he and the two congressional candidates come from the far right of the party and are too extreme for Maine voters,” said Arden Manning, manager of the Maine Democrats’ coordinated campaign.

The two Democrats’ campaigns accepted contributions from a number of political action committees. Pingree received support from Realtors, American Government Employees and American Postal Workers PACs, Michaud received funds from the American Federation of Teachers, American Medical Association and AT&T Corp. PACs. Scontras’ campaign accepted funds from Mitt Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC.

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