All three Republicans in a wide-open primary in Maine’s 2nd District spent more they raised in the past three months, with former state Sen. Eric Brakey leading the pack in fundraising as the general election with incumbent Democrat Jared Golden draws closer.
Updated fundraising reports were due to the federal government on Thursday covering the period from April 1 through June 24. Brakey, of Auburn, is facing former state Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon and Adrienne Bennett, who was press secretary under former Gov. Paul LePage, in an uncertain July 14 primary.
Brakey brought in $150,000 during the period, bringing his total fundraising to $800,000. But he also spent $167,000 during the same timespan, and had only $151,000 on hand as of June 24.
Crafts raised $105,000 since the start of April, bringing his total fundraising to $330,000. He spent $173,000 and had only $60,000 left at the end of the period. Bennett raised $90,000 and spent nearly $99,000 with just $30,000 on hand.
Polling in the Republican primary has been scarce, and all three candidates have turned to television advertising in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has slowed, though not entirely halted, on-the-ground campaigning. The race will use ranked-choice voting.
Brakey has also been the target of significant outside attacks over the past week, with an ambiguously named super PAC spending at least $150,000 to send mailers and run TV ads attacking him, according to federal filings. He was the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018, and has been endorsed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and libertarian-leaning groups including Club for Growth, which has run ads on his behalf and mailed out fliers attacking Bennett.
Crafts has been endorsed by LePage, while Bennett, who would join the relatively small cohort of Republican women in the House if she were elected, recently picked up an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York.
Golden, who is one of national Republicans’ top targets in a district Trump won by 10 points in 2016, raised just over $500,000 through June 24, bringing total fundraising this cycle to $2.8 million. He spent just $179,000 and still has more than $2 million in cash on hand.
The freshman Democrat narrowly won in 2018 in the first Maine general election decided by ranked-choice voting. It was also the first time a challenger had won the 2nd District seat in more than 100 years.