WASHINGTON – Republican Senate candidate Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls raised $473,465 last year, a seemingly large sum for a little-known, tea party-affiliated challenger to three-term GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe.

But D’Amboise’s campaign also spent almost $340,000 during 2011, much of it on national fundraising appeals to conservatives who regard Snowe as too moderate.

On Dec. 31, D’Amboise was left with $134,369, according to the report his campaign filed this week with the Federal Election Commission. Snowe had nearly $3.4 million on hand as of Dec. 31, after raising $629,771 for the fourth quarter.

In that quarter alone, when D’Amboise raised about $109,000, he spent about $136,000 on fundraising. His campaign says that included bills for fundraising activities outside the fourth quarter.

D’Amboise’s fourth-quarter haul was just half of the nearly $223,000 he raised during the third quarter. His campaign says it took in $60,535 in January, but didn’t say how much it spent last month.

Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said D’Amboise has a high “burn rate” – how much his campaign spends relative to how much it lands in contributions.
“It appears that D’Amboise is simply churning money,” Duffy said.

The Cook Political Report and other national independent analysts don’t have Snowe on their lists of vulnerable Senate incumbents. Snowe won re-election in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote.

Also running against Snowe in June’s Republican primary is another tea party-affiliated candidate, Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell. It wasn’t clear Wednesday whether Dodge has crossed the $5,000 threshold for filing a campaign report. Senate campaign reports had to be postmarked – they are not filed electronically – by midnight Tuesday.

In the Democratic Senate primary, Matthew Dunlap of Old Town, a former Maine secretary of state, said his campaign raised $56,075 in the fourth quarter. Jon Hinck, a state representative from Portland who, like Dunlap, entered the race late last year, reported raising $41,699.

Two other Democrats who are seeking the nomination, state Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth and home builder Benjamin Pollard of Portland, didn’t enter the race until January so they didn’t have to file reports.

D’Amboise’s campaign touts a large number of individual contributors, more than 14,000 over the past nine months, as evidence of grass-roots support. The average contribution was about $38, according to the campaign.

The Snowe campaign notes that most D’Amboise contributors are not from Maine. The D’Amboise campaign says it plans to step up its fundraising inside the state.

Snowe raises the majority of her campaign cash from outside Maine. Of more than $1.6 million in itemized, individual campaign contributions to Snowe, nearly $1.3 million came from outside the state, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign-finance research organization. Those figures do not include Snowe’s latest report.

Snowe also has received more than $1.6 million from political action committees, according to the figures compiled by the center.

Snowe’s major contributors in this election cycle include individuals and/or political action committees associated with the private equity firm Blackstone Group ($40,300), defense contractor General Dynamics ($28,400), and the investment firm Goldman Sachs ($13,000), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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