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May 20, 2012

Campaign backers spending in Maine

Financial disclosures by the 12 candidates for an open U.S. Senate seat let voters follow the money.

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Early financial backers of Republican Rick Bennett's campaign for the U.S. Senate include a number of individuals who represent the interests of corporate investors. Independent Angus King is relying on a solid foundation of Maine-based businesspeople, developers and attorneys. Republican Scott D'Amboise, a tea party activist, has many donors who responded to a costly professional appeal, but few live in Maine.

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WHO’S FUNDING WHOM

Disclosures filed last month reveal who backed which U.S. Senate candidates in the first quarter of 2012. Here’s a sampling:

Justin Alfond, Democratic state senator from Portland:
Cynthia Dill ($250)

Linda Bean, L.L. Bean heir and conservative fundraiser:
Scott D’Amboise ($2,500)

Fletcher Kittridge, CEO of Great Works Internet:
Rick Bennett ($1,000)
Cynthia Dill ($250)

Adam Lee, Lee Auto Malls chair:
Jon Hinck ($500);
Angus King ($5,000)

Dora Anne Mills, former director of Maine Center for Disease Control:
Angus King ($250)

Peter Mills, former state senator, head of Maine Turnpike Authority:
Bill Schneider ($250)

Robert A.G. Monks, former GOP chair and mentor to Sen. Bill Cohen, and his wife, Millicent, an author:
Rick Bennett ($5,000)

Olympia Snowe, retiring U.S. senator:
Bill Schneider ($200)
via Snowe for Senate

Chandler Woodcock, former GOP gubernatorial nominee:
Rick Bennett ($250)

An examination of the campaign finances of 12 candidates vying to succeed Sen. Olympia Snowe reveals strong contrasts in the size, characteristics and geography of their respective donor pools. In some cases, it reveals which candidates appear to be the early favorites of particular interest groups, in others, potential weaknesses in the run-up to the June 12 primaries.

The campaigns of Republicans Bill Schneider and D'Amboise rely heavily on out-of-state contributors. Schneider's tend to be business executives, lawyers and bankers who write big checks; D'Amboise's are typically medium-sized donors from around the country who responded to expensive direct-mail campaigns.

Democrats Jon Hinck and Matt Dunlap have been in the race longer than most of their rivals, and in that time have each built a broad base of small donors.

Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill have yet to build donor networks to match those of their respective primary rivals. Dill has raised significant amounts from an online clearinghouse, however, while the Summers campaign depends on a handful of large donors. Four other candidates have yet to assemble a significant base of donors.

Together, the candidates have raised $1.16 million, less than half as much as Snowe had accumulated in her war chest before dropping out of the race.

Here is a sketch of each candidate's donor pool, based on disclosures their campaigns filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The most recent disclosures were filed April 15 and cover activity from Jan. 1 to March 31 of this year. Snowe announced her retirement Feb. 28, and many candidates joined the race the following week, so their reports cover only their first three or four weeks of fundraising.

Candidates are required to file a fresh round of disclosures on May 30.

Scott D’Amboise (R)

$136,258 this quarter, $609,831 overall

Unlike his Republican rivals, D’Amboise, of Lisbon Falls, was running for Senate well before Snowe announced her retirement, and raised an impressive $473,573 last year, virtually all of it from out-of-state sources. This past quarter he maintained his fundraising pace and profile, generating over $136,000, more than 90 percent of it from outside Maine.

Unfortunately for D’Amboise, his net cash situation is far less rosy, as it has cost him nearly as much in fundraising expenses as he’s brought in. So far, the little-known tea party activist has spent more than $487,000, much of it to pay D.C.-area direct-marketing and -mailing list management firms. At the end of March, he had just $122,738 in hand, not much more than his establishment rival Bennett, who announced his candidacy March 2.

This past quarter, D’Amboise received just a handful of Maine-based donations. His local backers include L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean and her mother, Hazel Dyer ($5,000 combined); Marian Comstock of Millinocket ($1,450); Eugene Bibber of Gorham ($1,000); and retiree Ken Poirer of Berwick ($400).

D’Amboise also received $5,000 from Freedom’s Defense Fund, an Arlington, Va.-based political action committee that, according to its website, “stands with conservative, pro-freedom candidates against the radical left and their elitist allies in the mainstream media” and for “the principles of limited government, as the Founders understood them.”

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