Following the Money in the Race to Replace Olympia Snowe: an Early Snapshot

If you’re curious how the race to replace retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is going, I’ve got some campaign finance data for you to chew on.

For those who haven’t been following the Maine race closely, the conventional wisdom is that former governor Angus King, a two-term independent, is the frontrunner, and that the national Democratic Party may be sitting out the race. (A King in hand being perhaps better than a Democrat in the bush, particularly since he’s likely to caucus with the Dems.) If true, the reasoning goes, the biggest challenge to King winning would be the emergence of a strong Republican backed by an ocean of super PAC money.

I took a detailed look at the first quarter disclosures of all eleven candidates for the Maine Sunday Telegram. At that early stage -Snowe didn’t announce her retirement until the end of February–the Democrats have yet to get involved, and the GOP has made a symbolic down payment on most – but not all – of the party’s primary contestants.

In his first month of campaigning, King raised what is, for Maine, a respectable $173,561, more than any other candidate in the quarter. (The state has just 1.3 million people and cheap television ad rates.)

Snowe has contributed to just one candidate, Maine Attorney General William Schneider, while liberal Democrats are split between two Portland-area legislators, Cynthia Dill and Jon Hinck.

One potentially formidable GOP candidate, State Treasurer Bruce Poloquin, didn’t raise or spend more than $5000, so has yet to file a disclosure. Independently wealthy, he largely self-financed an unsuccessful run for governor in 2010, and presumably could do so again.

Colin Woodard

Colin Woodard is State and National Affairs Writer at the Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram and author of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.