Sara Gideon, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks in front of supporters after casting her absentee ballot, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Freeport, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

House Speaker Sara Gideon, the challenger to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, raised $39.4 million during the third quarter of 2020, placing her among a group of top-tier Democratic candidates who brought in unprecedented levels of money as Election Day nears.

The U.S. Senate race, which also features independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn, long ago broke Maine fundraising records. It has now led to $133 million in total spending between the candidates and outside groups. The latter have spent nearly $70 million to benefit or attack Gideon and Collins in a race less than three weeks from Election Day. That figure does not include millions more in dark money.

Gideon has raised a staggering sum of $63.6 million since she kicked off her campaign in June 2019 and had $22.7 million on-hand entering October. Collins raised $8.3 million between July and September’s end, a record for the incumbent Republican, bringing her total fundraising to $25.2 million this cycle. She had $6.6 million on hand at the end of last month.

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Gideon has narrowly led Collins in independent public polling this year. A Pan Atlantic Research poll released Thursday had her lead at seven points, though Bangor Daily News/Digital Research polling earlier this month had the pair virtually tied.

The race will use ranked-choice voting if no candidate finishes with at least 50 percent of the vote. Savage, who came in at 5 percent in the Pan Atlantic poll, reported raising $82,000 during the third quarter, bringing her total fundraising to $150,000. Linn, who came in at 2 percent, has self-funded his campaign with $450,000 in personal loans so far.

Though the fundraising numbers for both Gideon and Collins are unprecedented for Maine, they follow a string of big numbers in competitive races. In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison, who is challenging Sen. Lindsay Graham, raised $57 million during the third quarter, while Graham raised $29 million. Gideon was in second place behind Harrison among fundraisers last quarter among six other Democratic challengers that raised at least $25 million, according to numbers released by Thursday.

In the 2nd District race, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s campaign announced earlier this month that he had raised $1.8 million during the third quarter, bringing his total fundraising this cycle to about $4.6 million, according to federal data. The freshman Democrat from Lewiston has maintained a steady lead over his challenger, former state Rep. Dale Crafts, in the polls.

Crafts reported raising $635,000 during the third quarter, bringing his total to $970,000. Candidates will be required to file one more campaign finance report before the election, on Oct. 22, for the period covering the first two weeks of October.

BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.

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