Second District U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud enjoys a significant cash advantage over his rivals, with a campaign war chest four and a half times larger than that of his presumptive Republican challenger, state Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry.
According to paperwork filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission, Michaud, a Democrat, raised $95,023 between April 1 and May 23, and $817,187 overall this election cycle. He had $543,425 in cash on hand on May 23.
Raye, who entered the race in early January, raised $35,977 during the same period, and $188,453 overall. He had $122,167 on hand.
Much of Michaud’s fundraising lead can be accounted for by an overwhelming advantage in attracting the support of political action committees. While Michaud has out-fundraised Raye by 37 percent among individual donors to date, he has raised 111 times more from PACs.
Sixty-four percent of Michaud’s donations have come from PACs this election cycle. They represent a broad range of interests, from defense contractors like Raytheon, Honeywell and General Dynamics to sugar and sugarbeet companies, labor unions, credit unions and urologists.
AT&T, Plum Creek Timber Co., Unum, the National Rifle Association and the League of Conservation Voters also gave via their PACs.
By contrast, Raye, who lost to Michaud for the same seat in 2002, raised only 2.5 percent of his war chest from PACs. He has received $250 from the PAC of Wyman’s, the Milbridge-based blueberry company, $2,000 from Snowe for Senate and $2,500 from Republican Majority for Choice, a PAC supporting “the protection of reproductive rights.”
Raye’s campaign has sought to make an issue out of Michaud’s reliance on PACs, labeling him a “Washington insider” and “the PAC-man of the Maine Congressional delegation.”
“Who does the congressman represent when only a small proportion of the (PAC) money is raised in Maine?” asked Raye’s campaign spokesperson, Kathy Summers Grice. “As a citizen of Maine you have to ask if Mike represents the interests of Maine or the numerous associations from which he is taking money.”
Greg Olson, Michaud’s campaign manager, said Michaud was running an aggressive fundraising effort to ensure he has the resources needed for the fall campaign.
“When you get down to it, this race isn’t about money, it’s going to be about the people of the 2nd District of Maine,” Olson said.
National campaign finance experts say that Michaud is somewhat more reliant on PACs than most incumbent U.S. representatives, but not dramatically so. “PACs tend to overwhelmingly favor incumbents, and it’s generally the case that the (fundraising) advantage incumbents have over challengers is largely explained by the difference in PAC donations,” said Colby College government professor Anthony Corrado Jr., one of the nation’s leading experts on money in politics.
According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign finance research organization in Washington, D.C., the average incumbent House member has raised $1 million so far this election cycle, with 41 percent coming from PACs.
“PAC money tends to follow power, and the incumbents rake it in to a much more successful degree than challengers, so what you’re seeing in Maine is not that unusual,” said the center’s communications director, Viveca Novak.
Other Maine incumbents have been all over the map in this regard. Incumbent 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, has raised only 7.8 percent of her war chest from PACs, while Michaud’s Democratic predecessor in the 2nd District, John Baldacci, relied on PACs for 62 percent of his contributions in the 2002 cycle.
“The fact that Raye has less money is a disadvantage, but both he and Michaud are well-known candidates,” Corrado said of the likely general election match-up. “The real benefit of cash on hand comes in building up the funds needed in the fall when television ads really get under way.”
Michaud is running uncontested in the Democratic primary June 12, while Raye squares off against Blaine Richardson of Belfast. Richardson had raised only $554 by the end of March and did not file a fresh return with the FEC on May 31.
Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at: