June 10, 2012

Election 2012: Money separates candidates

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Winning a U.S. Senate seat isn't easy. It requires a statewide campaign organization, broad appeal and lots of money to pay for expenses, staff and advertisements. So how do the 12 candidates vying to succeed U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe stack up?

Recently released fundraising reports suggest a widening gap between the candidates, in terms of both their ability to raise resources and the number of in-state supporters enthusiastic enough about their campaigns to write a check.

The reports cover the period from April 1 to May 23, ending less than three weeks before Tuesday's primary elections, in which Republicans and Democrats will choose contenders to face former Gov. Angus King in November.

The filings suggest the candidates have sifted into two tiers in terms of fundraising depth and ability, with Democrats Jon Hinck and Matt Dunlap topping the Democratic field and Bruce Poliquin and Rick Bennett leading the Republicans. A third GOP candidate, Scott D'Amboise, has raised more money than anyone else, but has done so through massive expenditures on mailings apparently targeted at out-of-state donors.

Two candidates -- Republican Debra Plowman and Democrat Cynthia Dill -- appear to have limited support outside their home regions of Maine. Two others, Democrat Ben Pollard and independent Andrew Ian Dodge, appear to have little in the way of campaign infrastructure or donors.

The maximum donation to primary candidates is $2,500 per donor, while the maximum for independents (who are campaigning for the general election) is $5,000. 

SCOTT D'AMBOISE – R

$87,815 this period, $697,559 overall

Scott D'Amboise of Lisbon Falls continued a well-established pattern: raising large quantities of money from out-of-state donors who responded to expensive direct mail campaigns. This past period, he spent more than he brought in, most of it -- over $54,000 -- to pay five D.C. area direct mailing firms.

D'Amboise relies on large numbers of small and medium-sized contributions, with more than half his donations this period -- $47,107 -- coming from small amounts of less than $200. He also received two $2,500 PAC donations, one from the Republican National Coalition for Life, the other from The Conservative Strikeforce, an Arlington, Va.-based PAC giving to candidates who support the "preservation of a system that protects our liberties while supporting our God-given rights."

D'Amboise had $111,593 in cash on May 31, enough to fuel a last-minute advertising blitz before Tuesday's primary. 

ANGUS KING – I

$295,235 this period and $431,054 overall

Former Gov. Angus King raised more money than any other candidate this past period and more than twice that of all Democrats combined.

In the first quarter of the year, King loaned his campaign almost $38,000, but he made no additional contributions in the current period. Most of his funds came from larger donations, including from several venture capitalists, among them Idexx founder David Shaw of the Black Point Group, Peter Grua of HLM Venture Partners in Boston, and Elevation Partner's Advadis Tevanian and his wife, Nancy, each of whom gave the maximum $5,000.

Other $5,000 donations came from Jay Cashman of the Cashman Companies, a Massachusetts construction firm with wind power subsidiaries, and his wife, Christy; and former independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler and his wife, Melanie. Toby Hammond, commissioner of the Land Use Regulation Commission gave $1,000, while Plum Creek Land Co. President Rick Holley gave $2,500.

King received $17,423 in small donations of less than $200, or 6 percent of the total this period.

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