PORTLAND, Maine — Democrat Emily Cain has raised more than $1.1 million in her bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, setting a single-quarter fundraising record for a Maine congressional race and underscoring the large amounts of money flowing into the race.
Cain’s campaign released her latest fundraising figures ahead of a federal filing deadline in what’s already the most expensive congressional race in Maine history.
Poliquin plans to release his latest fundraising numbers in the official report due Saturday to the Federal Election Commission. But his campaign says he’s raised more than $3 million overall, meaning the incumbent retains an overall fundraising edge.
The campaign in Maine’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District has been targeted from the outset, and both parties think they have a chance to win.
“This has become a race with just unprecedented amounts of money being spent,” said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College.
The race was No. 2 in the nation for number of television ads in a congressional race through Sept. 15, and the total spending on the race between the candidates and outside groups is likely to top $10 million to $11 million before it’s over, Corrado said.
Poliquin beat Cain for the seat two years ago, and the rematch has a ring of deja vu: Democrats describe Poliquin as a Wall Street insider who’s looking out himself instead of the people, while Republicans have painted Cain as a candidate who lacks experience and who’s too liberal for the district.
But there are some differences this time.
There’s no conservative independent candidate like Blain Richardson to siphon votes from Poliquin and there’s no bear-baiting referendum to draw conservatives to the polls.
There’s also Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has drawn conservative support in the district. But it’s unclear what impact his campaign is having on the race.
Poliquin posted a tweet last weekend condemning Trump’s comments demeaning women, but he has declined to talk about Trump. He declined comment again this week after touring a New Balance factory, saying he’s “not getting involved in any of this media circus.”
A poll last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for the Portland Press Herald had Poliquin leading Cain by 10 percentage points among likely voters. Fifteen percent of respondents were undecided, and the margin of error was 6 percentage points.
The candidates, political parties and outside groups continue to spend heavily on attack ads, and both sides in the race have spent the last few weeks disputing the accuracy of their opponents’ jabs. All told, Corrado said, more than 3,300 TV ads have aired in the campaign.
Poliquin’s campaign spokesman, Michael Byerly, described Cain on Friday as a career politician who has backed by out-of-state, liberal interests who “will say anything — including flat-out lying — to mislead Mainers from the truth.”
Cain, meanwhile, said she’s proud of her “groundbreaking grassroots campaign” and attacked Poliquin as being “out of touch and out for himself.”