June 6, 2012

King, Poliquin lead so far in fundraising for period

But other candidates in the Senate race haven't provided numbers yet for the stretch that ended May 23.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Former Gov. Angus King raised about $300,000 for his U.S. Senate bid in the past seven weeks, pushing his total over $470,000 for the first three months of his campaign.

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin raised $229,214 during the same period, according to his campaign, likely making him the best-financed Republican candidate less than two weeks before the June 12 primary.

It's not clear how much of Poliquin's money was contributed by the candidate himself, because the campaign did not release its detailed financial report to MaineToday Media. Poliquin is a wealthy businessman who financed much of his unsuccessful run for governor in 2010.

The six Republicans and four Democrats who are running for Maine's open U.S. Senate seat were required to file updated financial reports with the Senate by the end of Thursday. The filings, covering the period from April 1 through May 23, are the last comprehensive look at fundraising and spending before Maine's primary elections June 12.

Each candidate's full campaign report will be posted online by the Federal Election Commission within the next week. Most of the candidates provided partial or full reports to MaineToday Media on Thursday.

King, who is not running in a primary because he is an independent candidate, filed a campaign finance report as well, although it wasn't clear that it was required.

The financial reports indicate which candidates have enough cash to mount media campaigns in the last week of the primary campaign, and whether their money is coming from out-of-state political action committees or Mainers.

The reports also become part of the campaign spin cycle, with some candidates releasing the numbers they want to release and withholding the others until the full reports are posted online.

"This is such a hotly fought (primary) contest, especially on the Republican side," said Emily Shaw, assistant professor of political science at Thomas College in Waterville. "It makes sense that if they can control the message, they will do that. This is not small ball."

Poliquin, for example, may have withheld his fundraising details because of questions about whether his campaign is self-funded. "If Poliquin has donated a large amount, as he has in the past, it's not a story he'd like to lead with," Shaw said.

Poliquin's campaign said the candidate did contribute, but did not say how much. Candidates can contribute as much as they want, while other individuals are limited to $2,500 for the primary election campaign and $2,500 for the general election.

Former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett is the No. 2 Republican fundraiser, pulling in a total of $184,303 for his campaign by May 23. He spent $64,037 in the latest reporting period and had $117,212 in cash on hand as of May 24, according to the campaign.

Bennett and his wife each donated $2,500 to his run, according to his campaign. It did not provide the complete report on donations and expenses.

Bennett and Poliquin now have television and radio advertisements airing across the state.

Two other Republicans, Attorney General Bill Schneider and Secretary of State Charlie Summers, have raised enough money to air television ads. Both released their full financial reports Thursday.

Schneider raised a total of $76,223 from the start of his campaign through May 23. He spent $43,453 during the latest reporting period and had $29,159 in cash on hand as of a week ago, his report says.

Summers gained fundraising momentum in April and May, and had raised a total of $89,915 as of May 23. Summers spent just $4,778 during the latest reporting period and had $85,137 in cash on hand as of May 23, the report says. He spent a chunk of that cash on a television ad that began airing this week.

(Continued on page 2)

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