There were not so many surprises in the October fundraising numbers for the 2nd Congressional District race to replace Democratic Congressman turned gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, but there were a couple.
First, Republican Bruce Poliquin put up a strong showing – not necessarily because of the overall number ($222,000) but because it didn’t all come from his own pocket. Poliquin contributed $50,000 to his own campaign, but his fundraising showed some breadth of support from inside Maine.
“That is a pretty impressive start, especially for a guy that has lost races in consecutive cycles and who is running in a district where he does not have a base or obvious constituency,” said one top Maine Republican strategist, who is not a Poliquin supporter.
Poliquin poured nearly $800,000 of his own cash into his 2010 Republican primary bid, eventually losing to now-Gov. Paul LePage. But his time transforming the state treasurer position he held for two years from a largely non-political post to a more activist and higher profile gig has clearly paid off, at least with base donors.
Poliquin’s numbers obviously hurt former Senate President Kevin Raye, who has twice won the Republican nomination for the CD2 seat only to lose to Michaud, the most.
“The short length of time for Kevin’s $90,000 doesn’t impress me because he has been running for the seat since 1978,” said the Republican. “But $90,000 on its own merit is a nice number.”
The only other candidate on the Republican side, Blaine Richardson, raised only about $1,000, but the GOP consultant says that’s okay – for now.
“He ran a credible primary last time as a Tea Party candidate; if he gets his act together he will need some money, but really the retired Navy guy is just hoping to catch a favorable wind,” he said. “The question for him is simply whether he is going to be the choice of the anti-establishment forces or are those forces going to muster behind a Harvard-educated millionaire investor Poliquin. As ridiculous as it sounds, those voters are probably equally likely to go to either guy.”
On the Democratic side, state Sen. Emily Cain had already shown an ability to fundraise when she raised more than $60,000 shortly before the previous quarter filing deadline and she continued the trend adding another $75,000. Her opponent though, fellow state Sen. Troy Jackson posted a comparable, but impressive number at $72,000.
“While Troy might have surprised a few people with his quarterly numbers, Emily has now shown for two quarters in a row the ability to post strong numbers,” said a Maine Democratic operative. “With Emily’s List coming in with a full endorsement of Emily Cain this quarter, I suspect that her numbers will continue to be steady during the last quarter of the year as well.”
Emily’s List is a fundraising group that sponsors pro-choice Democratic women for office and has a large national donor base.
Another potential candidate, Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci, has yet to announce his candidacy and therefore has no fundraising numbers to report. But the Republican strategist says what Cain has done so far might keep her ahead of the pack despite the fact that Baldacci’s brother John is a former governor and CD2 congressman.
“Troy being doubled up by Emily on cycle to date is an issue for him [because] they have known for the same amount of time that Mike is running for governor,” he said. “His showing indicates what most GOP insiders believe — if Joe runs this is a Cain-Baldacci battle with Troy basically neutralizing northern Aroostook.”