Collins, Allen off quickly on funds

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PORTLAND (AP) – Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who’s seeking a third term, and Democratic challenger Rep. Tom Allen together have raised more than $3.5 million in the first half of this year, according to figures released by the two campaigns.

From April to June, Collins raised more than $1.26 million, while Allen received nearly $1.1 million. During that period, Collins widened her edge in cash on hand to around $600,000, with $2.3 million in hand to Allen’s $1.7 million, according to the two campaigns.

Already, the campaign is shaping up to be the most expensive in Maine history. The current record was set during Collins’ 2002 re-election campaign in which she and Democratic challenger Chellie Pingree spent a combined $8 million.

Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said the candidates’ successful fundraising reflects the race’s national prominence.

“I think the more money each raises, the more that scares the other side,” he said. “And it becomes like a snowball rolling down the side of a mountain.”

On June 21, Collins held a fundraiser in Washington co-hosted by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who caucuses with the Democrats but is unpopular with many members of the party because of his support for the Iraq war. Attendees were asked to raise $3,000 each, according to news reports.

After Lieberman’s effort was publicized, the liberal group MoveOn.org responded by soliciting donations for the Allen campaign. Visitors to MoveOn.org gave about $250,000 to Allen during the second quarter of 2007, according to his campaign manager, Valerie Martin.

Amy Fried, a political science professor at the University of Maine, said Allen faces a tough race against a Republican who has previously appealed to independent voters. But the money he’s raising should make the race competitive.

“Money certainly is not everything,” Fried said. “But if you don’t have a certain amount, it’s just hard to run a campaign.”

The Allen campaign said that less than 30 percent of its second-quarter fundraising came from donors in Maine. The Collins campaign did not provide a breakdown of in-state versus out- of-state donors.

The extent of the out-of-state influence will become clearer when campaigns file additional financial reports with the Federal Election Commission. The latest quarterly reports are due to be filed by Sunday.

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