Friday, March 7, 2014
Maine's U.S. Senate race continues to attract more national attention as the $2 million television ad assault on independent candidate Gov. Angus King raises hopes – or fears – that Republicans can hold onto the seat.
Recent headlines have focused on the polls. But look for fundraising numbers to be the next story.
Former Gov. King has been the clear frontrunner since Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, announced her retirement. Independent polls show King still has a commanding lead over Republican Charlie Summers of anywhere from 8 percentage points to 22 points. Real Clear Politics has the average polling margin at 14.5 percent.
Republicans, claiming to have internal polling that shows King's lead is much smaller, continue to dump dollars into the race. A $410,000 investment in anti-Summers ads by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee suggests they consider the race uncertain, too.
The fact that "Republicans are doubling down" and Democrats are starting to fight back led Politico to include the Maine race on its list of 10 most competitive nationwide.
The next round of independent polls will be closely watched, to be sure. In the meantime, however, all eyes will be on fundraising reports.
The third quarter ended Sept. 30 and candidates must file third quarter fundraising and spending reports with the Federal Elections Commission by Oct. 15.
"Look for Summers to post fundraising numbers that will turn heads," Politico wrote. Summers' last report put his fundraising totals through June at $240,000. He needs to do have raised a lot more in the past three months to turn heads.
A Washington Post column, meanwhile, says King is one of the eight candidates around the country most in need of a lucrative third quarter. King had raised nearly $1 million by June 30, but he also has spent a lot and he has no party to back him up down the stretch. So what would be a good number for King? A cool $1.2 million would help, the column says.
"He could really use a sizeable bump in fundraising to ward off a fast-emerging threat from Summers," the Post says.
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