June 21, 2018
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Democrats widen fundraising lead over Republicans

By Matthew Stone, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Democrats widened their fundraising advantage over their Republican counterparts during the final summer months as the battle for control of the state Legislature intensified. Both parties boosted their fundraising totals with significant help from two Washington, D.C.-based political action committees focused on state legislative races.

Fundraising reports filed Friday with the Maine Ethics Commission show the state’s Democratic Party took in more than two-and-a-half times the amount the state GOP did during the third quarter of 2012, from mid-July through Sept. 30.

The Maine Democratic Party raised $733,000 while the Republican Party took in $274,000, the fundraising reports show. The Democratic Party has raised almost $1.4 million this year, compared to $828,000 for the Republicans.

The reports show the Democrats also are targeting more funds than Republicans to specific races, including many in districts they had lost to Republicans in 2010 that they want to recapture in November. The Democratic Party reported spending $249,000 supporting and opposing specific candidates. The Republicans’ finance report showed no spending on specific candidates during the fundraising period, though the party filed expenditure reports twice in September that showed the party spent nearly $85,000 on mailings in targeted House and Senate districts.

Major contributions on the Democratic side included $50,000 from New York City developer Daniel Tishman; $39,500 from Donald Sussman, husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree; $19,700 from the Democratic Governors’ Association; $15,000 each from Stephen and Tabitha King; and $54,000 from the Alfond Business Community and Democracy PAC controlled by Portland Sen. Justin Alfond, the assistant Democratic leader in the Senate.

The largest donor to the Democrats’ legislative efforts was the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which split $175,000 among the Democratic Party and two other party-affiliated committees raising money for Democratic legislative campaign efforts.

Major Republican donations included $80,000 from Houston businessman and Southport summer resident Ed Bosarge and $40,000 from White Rock Distilleries CEO Paul Coulombe. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has spent nearly $1 million on ads attacking Angus King in Maine’s U.S. Senate race, contributed $5,000 to the state party.

Republicans made up part of their fundraising deficit through two party-controlled political action committees devoted to House and Senate campaigns.

The Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC, for example, took in $314,000 last quarter, helping to make up some of the GOP’s fundraising deficit. The bulk of the committee’s fundraising was thanks to the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, D.C., which chipped in $220,000.

The Republican State Leadership Committee two years ago spent $400,000 targeting Democrats in five state Senate races. The Democrats in all five of those races lost, and the Maine Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Maine Ethics Commission alleging the group violated state election laws by reporting its expenditures late and inaccurately. The ethics commission ultimately fined the group $26,000.

The Republicans’ House Majority Fund raised $20,580 last quarter.

On the Democratic side, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee raised $140,000 with the help of a $54,000 contribution from the Alfond Business Community and Democratic PAC and $25,000 from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The House Democratic Campaign Committee took in $182,000, including $100,000 from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, $10,000 from a committee controlled by House Democratic leader Rep. Emily Cain and $5,000 from the Mill to the Hill PAC controlled by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

Fundraising totals through Sept. 30 are running behind 2010 levels for both parties, but the difference is more pronounced on the Republican side.

The Maine Republican Party had raised $2.2 million through Sept. 30, 2010, compared to $828,000 this year. The Democratic Party had raised $1.6 million through Sept. 30, 2010, compared to $1.4 million this year.

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