Sunday, March 9, 2014
Five of the six Republicans running for Maine’s open U.S. senate seat got a $5,000 campaign boost last month from a Texas-based political PAC, Alamo, according to federal campaign finance reports.
Alamo is the political action committee of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Cornyn is in charge of getting party members elected to key Senate seats. His contribution of a total of $25,000 to the Maine candidates signals that national Republican leaders haven’t given up on holding onto Olympia Snowe’s senate seat, even with former Gov. Angus King the clear, early frontrunner.
The five who each received $5,000 from Alamo are Rick Bennett, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, Sen. Debra Plowman, Attorney General William Schneider and Secretary of State Charlie Summers. Scott D’Amboise, a former selectman and Tea Party activist, was the only candidate who didn’t get a check from Cornyn.
It may be that D'Amboise is not taken seriously at the national level or that he's on the naughty list for being the only candidate to challenge Snowe before she dropped out. But D'Amboise also is less needy. He began fundraising months before the others and had raised more than $600,000 before the end of March, far more than all his GOP opponents combined.
OpenSecrets.org put together a cool visual of the early campaign money chase in Maine.
The Alamo money also has raised some questions about Bruce Poliquin’s finances.
Poliquin did not file a campaign finance report for the period ending March 31. He said last week he wasn’t filing because he did not exceed the threshold, meaning he didn’t raise or spend more than $5,000 in the reporting period.
That would mean either the Alamo contribution was the only one he received, which is hard to imagine for one of the higher-profile candidates in the race, or it arrived after March 31. The FEC website says Poliquin's check was disbursed March 6, though it doesn't say when the candidate received it.
A Poliquin spokesman said today the Alamo check arrived after the reporting period ended.
The explanation may lie in campaign strategy. Poliquin said he gathered pledges and commitments for funds in March, but didn’t have the money in hand until April. He also said he was keeping all details about his fundraising to himself.
Candidates sometimes delay contributions into the next reporting period so opponents don’t see how much they are raising and from what sources.
Poliquin clearly isn’t pretending he’s got no money. He used a lot of his own money when running for governor in 2010 and he is known to have the biggest personal checkbook in the Republican primary. He also boasted in a recent news release that he will be the best-funded candidate in the race.
Sen. Plowman also does not have a finance report posted on the Federal Election Commission website, although it should be posted soon. Plowman said she did mail in her report, which included the Alamo filing and some smaller donations.
Open Season targets all of Maine's political wildlife, from Portland city government to the donkeys, elephants and independents stalking the Statehouse and U.S. Capitol.
John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or email@example.com
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org