Maine’s 2nd District set a record for the most spending in a House race in state history in 2018, and is likely to be expensive again in 2020, as freshman Rep. Jared Golden is a target for national Republicans hoping to flip a district President Donald Trump won easily in 2016.
Golden’s opponent is former state Rep. Dale Crafts, who came away with a convincing plurality of the vote in a three-way primary, though the result will not be final until a ranked-choice count is complete next week. The primary has left Crafts at a fundraising disadvantage compared to Golden, although that could turn around quickly if national Republicans jump in.
We are tracking all the fundraising and spending in this highly watched race, and will continue to update this page regularly as the election gets closer. Figures for candidates’ raising and spending are updated quarterly and currently cover the period through June 30.
The general election race has yet to see outside spending, but once that starts, we will track it here on a weekly basis.
READ MORE ELECTION 2020 COVERAGE
Maine’s U.S. Senate race is already the most expensive in state’s history.
Golden has a lot of cash. Crafts has little.
The Democrat from Lewiston has raised nearly $2.9 million and spent less than $750,000 through June 30, leaving him with $2.1 million cash on hand, according to his campaign’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.
Crafts, a Lisbon businessman, raised a little over $300,000 through the same period and loaned his campaign another $87,000, allowing him to spend more than he raised ahead of the primary but leaving him with relatively little cash on hand.
Candidates raise money from a variety of different sources.
Political campaigns raise money through two basic sources: individual donors and political action committees, also known as PACs. Campaigns are required to itemize contributions from donors who give more than $200, while smaller donations are reported in aggregate.
PACs are allowed to give up to $5,000 directly to each candidate in a given election cycle, though the primary and general elections count as separate cycles. PACs are generally funded by individual donors as well as contributions from other PACs.
Both Golden and Crafts have raised the majority of their campaign cash from large individual donors, though Golden has raised a greater share from small donors.
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Not all PACs are the same, though.
Using categorizations developed by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks campaign finance, we can break down PACs into four broad categories: ideological PACs, leadership PACs, labor PACs and business PACs, each of which operate slightly differently and have different goals.
Ideological PACs work to advance a particular issue or set of issues. PACs in this category include EMILY’s List, which works to elect female Democratic candidates, and No Labels, which aims to reduce partisanship.
Leadership PACs are associated with a particular politician. Many members of Congress have these PACs, which they use to support other candidates. For our purposes, funds transferred directly from one candidate’s campaign committee to another, though not technically PAC money, are also counted in this category.
Labor PACs advance the interests of labor unions, and are often funded by union members. Business PACs represent corporations, trade groups or other business interests. This category includes groups that are affiliated with large companies, which are sometimes referred to as corporate PACs, as well as professional associations like the American Association for Justice or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Golden has raised significantly more from PACs than Crafts. That’s typical, as incumbents are more likely to receive contributions from PACs and the Golden has raised more overall. The bulk of Golden’s PAC money comes from leadership PACs and labor PACs. The incumbent has pledged to take no corporate PAC money, while the funding he received from business PACs is largely from professional associations and agriculture trade groups.
There hasn’t been outside spending — yet.
In 2018, the 2nd District saw more than $13 million in independent expenditures from super PACs and other outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This year, there was some outside spending in the Republican primary, but none of it concerned Crafts, the eventual winner.
That will change, as several outside groups from both parties, including the Democratic-led House Majority PAC and the Republican-led Congressional Leadership Fund, have already booked TV ad time in October. Once there is outside spending, we will track it here.
Story by Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News