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. 



$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. 



$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.

King received donations from six PACs. Google’s PAC gave $5,000. He received $1,000 donations from the PACs of Plum Creek Land Co., Milwaukee-based senior care medical suppliers Direct Supply Inc., and the Council for a Livable World, which promotes “progressive national security policies.” Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, a South Carolina law firm, gave $500, as did Politics 180, a Massachusetts PAC supporting non-partisan candidates.


King, who doesn’t have to face a primary, had $260,344 in the bank on May 31, more than twice any other candidate, suggesting he will have a formidable lead over his rivals going into the general election campaign. 


$229,214 this period and overall

Bruce Poliquin, the state treasurer, had reported no activity in the first quarter of the year, but ramped his campaign to life in April. He raised $120,209 by May 23, and gave his campaign an additional $109,005.

He relies on large donations, including from Edward Babbit of Avatar Associates in New York and his wife, Susan ($5,000 combined), Portland developer Joe Boulos ($2,500), former Morgan Stanley Co-President Zoe Cruz and her husband, Ernesto, a Credit Suisse investment banker ($5,000 total), and Lawrence Lindsey, a former governor of the Federal Reserve System and economic adviser to former President George W. Bush ($1,000).

Poliquin raised only $9,256, or 4 percent of the total, in small donations. His only PAC donation was from the Alamo PAC of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, which gave $5,000 to Poliquin on April 20. In March, this PAC gave the same amount to every GOP candidate except D’Amboise.


Poliquin spent heavily — $95,000 — on advertising and campaign signs and stickers, plus a like amount in other campaign expenditures. He had only $18,928 on hand at the end of May, but as he is independently wealthy, his campaign is not expected to want for resources. 


$76,644 this period and $184,303 overall

Former state Senate President Rick Bennett continues to rely on larger donations, having raised just $4,194 in small contributions.

Last quarter, 30 percent of Bennett’s contributions came from individuals linked to Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd, the San Diego law firm best known for winning a $7.2 billion class action against Enron. This period he received another $5,500 from the firm’s partners, bringing the total from partners and their spouses to $43,500. Bennett’s company is in a similar line of work: representing shareholders against corporate boards.

Locally, Bennett received $13,500 from five senior employees at Windham Weaponry, maker of assault rifles; $1,000 each from Central Maine Motors CEO Charlie Gaunce, who served as treasurer for Paul LePage’s mayoral campaigns in Waterville, and corporate lobbyist and gubernatorial adviser Ann Robinson of Preti Flaherty, who was co-chair of LePage’s transition committee; $200 from Snowe for Senate and $500 from Snowe staffer Brian Whitney.


Bennett has hired several political consultants, including Trevor Bragdon, brother of former Maine Heritage Policy Center director Tarren Bragdon, and Brent Littlefield, who is credited with helping guide the LePage campaign to victory. On May 23, he still had $117,212 on hand, more than any of his GOP rivals. 


$16,619 this period, $98,820 overall

Matt Dunlap still leads the Democrats in overall fundraising, but lagged this past period, mostly due to a reduction in the small donations his campaign had been so successful in attracting. More than any other competitive candidate, his donor pool is dominated by medium-sized donations ($200 to $999) and includes strikingly few large donations.

Dunlap actually raised more money in medium and large donations ($11,770) from April 1 to May 23 than he did in the first quarter ($10,400). Small contributions fell from $15,726 to $4,849, however, suggesting he may have tapped out the grassroots.

He had only two large donations this past period: Jim Gorman, L.L. Bean heir and former president of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (where Dunlap was executive director), and the candidate’s mother, Susan Dunlap; both gave $2,000. He continued to raise significant amounts via ActBlue, the online fundraising clearinghouse, which has processed (mostly medium-sized) contributions totaling more than $25,000 this election.


He has received no PAC money this period, and only $100 for the entire election cycle.

Dunlap had $20,425 in his war chest on May 23, more than his three Democratic rivals combined. 


$25,819 this period, $91,083 overall

This period, Portland Rep. Jon Hinck closed the fundraising gap with Dunlap, assisted by his own $5,000 contribution. As was the case previously, a significant number of his contributors are fellow lawyers from out of state.

This period, his biggest donations came from Nancy Anderson of Portland; Sharon Holahan, executive vice president at Global Aerospace; Peter Marzo, president of the United Ways of California; and former Hannaford Bros. executive Ralph Perry, each of whom gave $1,000.


He raised $7,754 in small donations, 30 percent of the total. He had no PAC donations this period, and has only $250 overall.

Hinck had just $7,989 on hand on May 23, suggesting he may be outspent in the final days before the election. (He previously loaned his campaign $20,000, so technically it is currently in the red.) 


$68,635 this quarter, $89,915 overall

Secretary of State Charlie Summers is relying on large donations, most from Maine or with Maine ties.

His largest donor cluster comprises friends and associates of Michelle and Paul Coulombe, vice president and CEO, respectively, of White Rock Distilleries of Lewiston, who together gave $5,000 in the first quarter of the year. This period, they were joined by company President William Dabbelt and his wife, Juliana, who gave $2,500 apiece and who, like the Coulombes, now reside in Bonita Springs, Fla. They were joined by friends and neighbors George and Cathy Lieberman ($5,000 combined) and Connie and Max Lummis ($5,000). (Summers said he’s been friends with Coulombe since the early 1980s, when the candidate managed a Bangor bar.)


Other large donations came from Portland developer Eric Cianchette and his wife, Peggy ($5,000), Joseph and Jill Doyle of the Florida-based Doyle Group, a magazine publisher; and Kenneth Moulison, owner of Moulison North Corp., a heavy electrical contractor in Wells ($2,500).

Summers raised $4,050 in small donations. He received no PAC money this period, and had $85,137 in cash on May 23. 


$36,128 this quarter, $76,223 overall

Attorney General Bill Schneider was outpaced by most of his GOP rivals this period, placing him at a disadvantage heading into the primary.

His biggest donations came from Packaging Corp. of America CEO Mark Kowzlan and his wife, Sue ($5,000); former gubernatorial candidate Les Otten ($2,500); the campaign of Kentucky Rep. Geoff Davis ($2,500); and Portland accountant Joyce Broadwater ($1,585).


He received $5,700 in small donations and no fresh PAC donations this period. On May 23, he had $29,159 in his war chest. 


$13,447 this period, $38,455 overall

This period, Cape Elizabeth state Sen. Cynthia Dill relied on medium-sized donations, all of them from Cumberland County or out of state, suggesting she may have limited statewide name recognition.

Her only large donation came from William Miro of PCS Family Homes in Scarborough, who gave $2,500. Contributions processed through the online clearinghouse, ActBlue, dried up, falling from $12,313 last quarter to $1,350 this period.

She received $3,997 in small donations and none from PACs and had $9,219 in cash on hand. 



$15,225 this period, $25,421 overall

State Sen. Debra Plowman remains far behind her six GOP rivals in fundraising. She relies on medium-sized donations from central Maine, many from residents of her hometown of Hampden, suggesting she may have limited statewide appeal.

Her largest donations came from James Tobin of Arlington, Va., ($2,500); Jane Bickford of Eagle Equipment Rental in Hampden ($2,500); and David, Thomas and Linda Quirk of Quirk Motors ($1,500 combined). Cianbro Vice President Alan Burton, Hampden bookkeeper June Levesque and Bill Hereford, the mayor of Pell City, Ala., each gave $1,000.

Plowman also attracted contributions from politicos in Augusta, including Gov. Paul LePage’s chief of staff, Kathleen Newman ($500), and senior health policy adviser Katrin Teel ($300); Senate President Kevin Raye’s wife, Karen ($100); and small donations from GOP legislative staffers David Madore, Keith Herrick, Robert Caverly, Mark Steel and David Soerensen.

She raised only $915 in small donations and no additional PAC contributions this period. She had $9,957 in her treasury on May 23. 



$400 this period, $9,400 overall

Pollard didn’t send a disclosure to the FEC until Saturday. Reached by telephone, he said it had been an oversight. He provided a copy to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in which he reported raising just $300 in the period, all from small donors, plus his own $100 contribution. He said he had avoided fundraising as he had originally hoped to run “on word of mouth.”

Pollard reported having had only $37 in cash on hand on May 23 and more than $11,000 in campaign debts. 


No money reported


Independent Andrew Ian Dodge, former coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, did not file a pre-primary report. Although King filed a full report, it is unclear if independent candidates were required by law to do so. Dodge is the only candidate on the ballot who has not filed any disclosures this election cycle, suggesting he has raised less than the requisite $5,000 to date. 

Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be

contacted at 791-6317 or at:

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