Wednesday July 11, 2012 | 02:04 PM

Last week the Washington Post blog The Fix identified eight U.S. Senate candidates who have something to prove when they post their first quarter campaign filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

One of the candidates was Republican Charlie Summers, who recent polls indicate has some work to do to move the needle against independent Angus King. The Fix wrote that the campaign's goal should be about $250,000.

Lance Dutson, Summers' newly minted campaign manager, said today that the campaign will come very close to that target when it files by the July 15 deadline.

"We won't go past ($250,000)," Dutson said, "but we're in the game."

As Dutson noted, the first quarter filing is important because the theory is that strong financial backing can reflect a candidate's local support. And strong local support could make Summers an attractive candidate to receive outside financial help from groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee or national political action committees, which could divert cash to buoy Summers' campaign or attack his rival, King.

"Money begets money," Dutson said. 

Dutson added that although the campaign wants to be attractive to outside groups, it's also wary of the role of outside money. Campaigns are not allowed to coordinate with PACs or other groups and some candidates worry that outside interference can undercut or hurt their message.

"It's trick to figure out what you want to have happen," he said. "I mean, obviously if someone comes in and drops a million dollars, supports your candidate or beats up the other guy, that's a million dollars you don't have to raise yourself."

But, he added, "We've seen in Maine that (outside money) can be counterproductive or reach a point of diminishing returns."

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

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