October 17, 2018
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How the fundraising battles are playing out in Maine’s congressional races

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Craig Olson, from left, Jared Golden, and Lucas St. Clair, candidates for the 2nd District Congressional seat, acknowledge the crowd at the Democratic Convention, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Lewiston, Maine.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The top-tier Democrats running in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District had mostly equal campaign bankrolls 20 days before the June primary, but conservationist Lucas St. Clair is getting late help after being out-raised by Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden.

Incumbents are dominating the overall fundraising battle in Maine’s two congressional races: Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from the 2nd District, has raised $2.8 million for the 2018 campaign and Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, has $611,000 left.

Both races are interesting. The 2nd District is a swing seat with St. Clair and Golden in a heated primary. An independent state legislator joined a Republican to challenge Pingree in a contest to be decided by ranked-choice voting as things stand and has given himself most of his campaign money so far.

Congressional campaigns had to file updated finance reports through May 23 with the federal government on Thursday. Since May 24, they have had to file reports on contributions within 48 hours of receiving them, so the public’s look at their books right now is partial.

Golden of Lewiston has raised $710,000 as of May’s end, with $95,000 of that coming from political committees. Most notable among them is the Serve America PAC, which is run by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Massachusetts, a Marine veteran like Golden who helped spur his run. Golden had $116,000 left as of May 23.

St. Clair has raised $566,000 with $107,000 left as of May 23, virtually all of which came from individuals. But he received a late boost from a small number of large donors in late May, including hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman, Pingree’s former husband, who gave the maximum total of $5,400.

Islesboro bookseller Craig Olson, a Democrat also running in the 2nd District, has raised $116,000 with $30,000 left. The primary race has been dominated by St. Clair and Golden, who were virtually tied in a poll released by the Bangor Daily News in early May.

St. Clair has also been aided by hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Maine Outdoor Alliance, a group run by the best man at his wedding that has paid for TV ads and mailers promoting St. Clair without mentioning his campaign or commenting on who is funding the group.

The Democratic nominee will have a hard time with Poliquin, a second-term congressman with $2.3 million left as of May 23. Poliquin has raised more than half of his money from political committees, including $92,000 alone from Protect the House, a super PAC aligned with House Republican leaders.

Pingree, who is serving her fifth term, has raised $290,000 this cycle with 38 percent of that coming from political committees, but her higher cash-on-hand total is because of money left over from previous campaigns.

She has easily won four straight races, including her last one in 2016 over Republican counselor Mark Holbrook of Brunswick, who is running again.

They have been joined by state Rep. Martin Grohman, I-Biddeford, a former Democrat who gave his campaign $35,000 of his $60,000 haul with $21,000 left. His donors included Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican who attended Gould Academy in Bethel with Grohman, and state Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta. Holbrook has raised $52,000 with $37,000 left.

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