Former Gov. Angus King raised about $300,000 for his U.S. Senate bid in the past seven weeks, pushing his total over $470,000 for the first three months of his campaign.
State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin raised $229,214 during the same period, according to his campaign, likely making him the best-financed Republican candidate less than two weeks before the June 12 primary.
It’s not clear how much of Poliquin’s money was contributed by the candidate himself, because the campaign did not release its detailed financial report to MaineToday Media. Poliquin is a wealthy businessman who financed much of his unsuccessful run for governor in 2010.
The six Republicans and four Democrats who are running for Maine’s open U.S. Senate seat were required to file updated financial reports with the Senate by the end of Thursday. The filings, covering the period from April 1 through May 23, are the last comprehensive look at fundraising and spending before Maine’s primary elections June 12.
Each candidate’s full campaign report will be posted online by the Federal Election Commission within the next week. Most of the candidates provided partial or full reports to MaineToday Media on Thursday.
King, who is not running in a primary because he is an independent candidate, filed a campaign finance report as well, although it wasn’t clear that it was required.
The financial reports indicate which candidates have enough cash to mount media campaigns in the last week of the primary campaign, and whether their money is coming from out-of-state political action committees or Mainers.
The reports also become part of the campaign spin cycle, with some candidates releasing the numbers they want to release and withholding the others until the full reports are posted online.
“This is such a hotly fought (primary) contest, especially on the Republican side,” said Emily Shaw, assistant professor of political science at Thomas College in Waterville. “It makes sense that if they can control the message, they will do that. This is not small ball.”
Poliquin, for example, may have withheld his fundraising details because of questions about whether his campaign is self-funded. “If Poliquin has donated a large amount, as he has in the past, it’s not a story he’d like to lead with,” Shaw said.
Poliquin’s campaign said the candidate did contribute, but did not say how much. Candidates can contribute as much as they want, while other individuals are limited to $2,500 for the primary election campaign and $2,500 for the general election.
Former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett is the No. 2 Republican fundraiser, pulling in a total of $184,303 for his campaign by May 23. He spent $64,037 in the latest reporting period and had $117,212 in cash on hand as of May 24, according to the campaign.
Bennett and his wife each donated $2,500 to his run, according to his campaign. It did not provide the complete report on donations and expenses.
Bennett and Poliquin now have television and radio advertisements airing across the state.
Two other Republicans, Attorney General Bill Schneider and Secretary of State Charlie Summers, have raised enough money to air television ads. Both released their full financial reports Thursday.
Schneider raised a total of $76,223 from the start of his campaign through May 23. He spent $43,453 during the latest reporting period and had $29,159 in cash on hand as of a week ago, his report says.
Summers gained fundraising momentum in April and May, and had raised a total of $89,915 as of May 23. Summers spent just $4,778 during the latest reporting period and had $85,137 in cash on hand as of May 23, the report says. He spent a chunk of that cash on a television ad that began airing this week.
Maine Assistant Senate Majority Leader Debra Plowman, another Republican, said she raised $20,160 from April 1 through May 23, giving her a total of $25,422.
Plowman spent $15,064 during the latest reporting period, and had $9,956 in cash on hand as of May 24, she said. Plowman, who has run the only all-volunteer Republican campaign, has bought radio ads but won’t have enough cash for TV, she said.
The other Republican in the race, conservative activist Scott D’Amboise, did not provide his latest fundraising numbers Thursday. D’Amboise has been campaigning for more than a year and still leads all Republicans in money raised, with $609,831 as of March 31.
D’Amboise may have little money left to mount a last-minute media campaign, however, because much of his money was spent to rent mailing lists of wealthy donors.
The money chase in the Democratic primary is less clear. State Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, was the only one of the four candidates who provided fundraising numbers Thursday.
Hinck had raised a total of $111,083 as of May 23, according to a partial report provided by his campaign. He spent $21,971 during the seven-week period ending May 23. He had $7,989 in cash on hand as of last week, the report says.
Former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Maine Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, both of whom trailed Hinck in the last fundraising cycle, did not provide any fundraising numbers Thursday.
Democrat Benjamin Pollard said he did not have the report ready and intended to file late.
King, who loaned $37,742 to his campaign in March, is showing the kind of fundraising ability that helps make him the front-runner for the general election.
His financial clout also is a big reason the Senate race this summer and fall is expected to be one of the most expensive ever in Maine.
The national Democratic and Republican parties are expected to send large checks to their nominees in an effort to defeat King in November and take control of the Senate.
Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: