Democrat Sara Gideon, the establishment-backed challenger to Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins in 2020, reeled in significantly more from in-state donors in less than two weeks than Collins has since January.
Maine’s House speaker, who formally announced her bid to unseat Collins on June 24, raised nearly $1.1 million in the final 10 days of the second quarter (April through June), recently released Federal Election Commission filings show.
Of the total haul, 43% ― about $453,000 ― came from people who gave $200 or less. Campaigns are not required to disclose the identity of such donors to the FEC, so it’s nearly impossible to know for sure which of these contributions came from within Maine.
But Maine donors accounted for more than 44% of the remaining $605,000 ― roughly $267,000.
Collins, by comparison, raised $2 million during that same time period ― the most she’s ever raised in a quarter ― mostly through out-of-state donations.
Roughly $26,000, or a mere 1.3% of her total haul, came from people who gave $200 or less. A whopping 95% of Collins’ remaining contributions came from out-of-state donors, with only about $98,000 given from people in Maine.
In the first quarter, between January and March, Collins raised roughly $9,000 in in-state contributions, totaling about 1% of that quarter’s haul. In the 10 days since receiving her first Senate campaign contribution, Gideon raised more than double the amount of in-state donations than the Republican incumbent did in six months.
“Person by person, more than 2,000 Mainers came together to support our campaign in the past seven days,” Gideon said in a video posted to her campaign’s Twitter account on July 2. “We raised a record over $1 million in just seven days, showing people around this state that we have the momentum and we have what it takes together to defeat Susan Collins in 2020.”
Asked about Collins’ relatively low level of in-state donations, Kevin Kelley, a spokesperson for her campaign, said the Republican lawmaker had received more individual contributions from Mainers than Gideon had overall, which wouldn’t be surprising since Gideon only announced her run a few weeks ago.
“While it’s true that Sara Gideon has reported to the FEC that she has accepted more money from major donors in Maine, Senator Collins has actually reported receiving contributions from more Mainers than Ms. Gideon this cycle,” he said in a statement.
It’s not uncommon for candidates, especially ones with a national profile like Collins, to raise a significant amount of out-of-state money. But Collins’ willingness to accept these funds has shifted since she first ran for Senate in 1996, when she expressed support for limiting donations from out of state.
Asked about Collins’ change of position, Amy Abbott, deputy treasurer of the senator’s campaign committee, told HuffPost in April that “all serious candidates for federal office in Maine raise a majority of their money out-of-state.”
Roughly $490,000 of Collins’ second-quarter contributions came from political action committees, compared to the $5,000 reported by Gideon’s campaign.
Winning Collins’ seat is key to Democrats’ goal of flipping the Senate in their favor in 2020. Democratic fervor to oust Collins grew exponentially following her controversial vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite multiple women accusing him of sexual misconduct and his past anti-abortion statements.
Still, Collins had the biggest fundraising period of her career following her Kavanaugh vote, raking in $1.8 million ― the vast majority of which came from out-of-state supporters.
Betsy Sweet, a former Maine gubernatorial candidate backed by the Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected to Congress, took in $81,000 last quarter. Attorney Bre Kidman, another Democrat vying for Collins’ seat, raised $11,000.
By June’s end, Collins had amassed $5.4 million in cash on hand for her reelection campaign, which she has yet to formally announce. Gideon has about $920,000, the FEC filings show.
Democrats and abortion rights activists outraged by Collins’ Kavanaugh vote have raised over $4 million since October toward whoever becomes Maine’s Democratic nominee for Senate in 2020, a hefty war chest to rival Collins’.