Pingree outraises Courtney tenfold in 1st District House race

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, looks up to the skies during a thunderstorm that damaged her umbrella and forced the postponement of the Fourth of July fireworks show in Portland.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, looks up to the skies during a thunderstorm that damaged her umbrella and forced the postponement of the Fourth of July fireworks show in Portland.
Posted July 16, 2012, at 2:07 p.m.
Last modified July 16, 2012, at 2:48 p.m.

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Republican candidate for 1st District House Jon Courtney, center, talks with Jeffrey Pierce, a Republican candidate for Maine Senate, on a campaign swing through Bath on Tuesday.
Republican candidate for 1st District House Jon Courtney, center, talks with Jeffrey Pierce, a Republican candidate for Maine Senate, on a campaign swing through Bath on Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree outraised Republican challenger Jonathan Courtney more than 10-to-1 during the latest fundraising period, widening the fundraising disparity between the two candidates, according to finance reports their campaigns have filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Pingree, the incumbent Democrat in Maine’s 1st Congressional District, took in $166,000 in contributions from individual donors and political action committees between May 24 and June 30. Courtney, the majority leader in the Maine Senate, raised almost $16,000 for his bid to replace Pingree.

The campaigns faced a July 15 filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission for the period that covered the last few weeks of the primary campaign and the first few weeks of the general election push.

Pingree faced no primary opponent last month while Courtney slipped by largely unknown challenger Patrick Calder with a margin of fewer than 300 votes of almost 30,000 cast.

The latest poll in the 1st District race, conducted June 20-25 by the Portland firm Critical Insights for MaineToday Media, showed Pingree with 57 percent support to Courtney’s 31 percent.

Courtney’s campaign manager, Keith Herrick, said the 1st District Republican didn’t start fundraising efforts in earnest until the end of the most recent reporting period.

“We focused on getting out there and meeting the voters,” Herrick said.

Courtney’s report shows the Republican is receiving help from some heavyweights in his party, including both of Maine’s U.S. senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Collins’ political action committee, Dirigo PAC, chipped in $5,000 while Snowe contributed $2,000 to Courtney from her campaign fund, which she is retiring.

In addition, Courtney received a $2,500 contribution from the Maine Republican Party, a $1,000 contribution from Snowe’s husband,

former Republican Gov. John McKernan, and $250 from Kevin Raye, the Republican Senate president who is challenging Rep. Mike Michaud in Maine’s 2nd District.

Courtney’s campaign spent $12,000 during the reporting period and ended the quarter with $19,000 on hand. His total fundraising now stands at $37,000.

There’s no doubt the Courtney campaign needs to pick up the pace of fundraising, Herrick said. But the campaign is planning more of a low-cost, grass-roots effort, he said.

“From Day One, we said we wanted to have enough money to have a strong grass-roots campaign,” he said. “That’s where we’re headed.”

Pingree’s $166,000 in fundraising for the end of the second quarter included $38,000 in contributions from political action committees.

She spent $27,500 during the reporting period and had $349,000 on hand as of June 30. The most recent fundraising figures show the two-term incumbent has raised a total of $773,000 for her campaign effort since the start of the 2012 election cycle.

Her political action committee support includes contributions from defense contractors that operate in southern Maine. Pingree received $2,000 from the committee of General Dynamics, which manufactures weapons systems and aircraft in Saco, and $2,500 from the political action committee representing United Technologies Corp. United Technologies owns Pratt & Whitney, which manufactures jet engines in North Berwick.

Pingree also attracted political action committee support from unions representing postal carriers, teachers and public employees.

The political action committee of the Aircraft Owners and and Pilots Association also supported Pingree during the latest fundraising period, with a $1,000 contribution.

“We are incredibly excited and energized by the amount of support Chellie has received,” said Pingree’s campaign manager, Kate Simmons.

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