LEWISTON — U.S. Senate candidate Angus King continued to outpace his rivals in raising campaign cash, according to July reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The reports show the former governor raised nearly four times the amount in donations as his closest cash competitor, Secretary of State Charlie Summers, the Republican candidate.
King's campaign had collected $897,545, while Summers' campaign had raised $239,081 in the race to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
The Democratic candidate, state Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth, had accepted $91,165 in donations, according to records on the FEC's website.
King's quarterly report, which details the campaign's contributions and expenses, is 258 pages, while Summers' report is 52 pages.
King's report shows he had just over $500,000 on hand at the end of the reporting period in July. Summers' campaign had about $120,000 on hand. Dill's report showed a balance of $28,500.
Notable King donors include Tom's of Maine founders Thomas and Katherine Chappell. The couple donated $2,000 to the campaign. Others include Bath Iron Works Vice President and General Counsel Jon Fitzgerald ($1,000); Kevin Dean, owner of Electricity Maine ($2,500); and former Maine Forest Service Director Thomas Doak ($750). Doak is currently the executive director of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine.
Also giving to King's campaign were Dr. Dora Anne Mills ($1,000), former director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Peter Geiger ($2,000), executive vice president of Lewiston-based Geiger; L.L. Bean executive John Oliver ($1,000); and Jackson Parker Jr., president of Maine construction giant Reed & Reed ($5,000).
Former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Michael Saxl, a Portland Democrat, donated $250 to King's campaign. And King's wife, Mary Herman, had donated $5,000 to his campaign, according to the reports.
The race is looking to be one of the more costly in recent Maine history as King approaches the $1 million mark.
The U.S. Senate race in Maine in 2008 between incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins and former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen saw total spending reach about $1.7 million, said Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington.
Melcher said it was too early to say for certain whether this campaign would become the most costly in Maine history, but it wouldn't be surprising if it did.
"We are easily on a path where that could become the case," Melcher said. "But it's not all that unusual for an open race."
Melcher said the cross-section of donors to King's campaign was indicative of a broad base of support, including business and industry, and large environmental and social welfare organizations.
"It's ideologically diverse, and he highlighted that very effectively when he announced his campaign committee, as well," Melcher said. "He's drawing a lot of support from a pretty wide range of the political spectrum."
Such diversity of donors supports King's campaign rhetoric describing him as a true independent who is able to work toward compromise among divergent groups, Melcher said. "So, it really reinforces that campaign message."
He also said it was telling that as an independent King was able to raise far more money than his rivals in the mainstream parties.
"It's really remarkable," Melcher said. "You hardly ever see an independent candidate in any other part of the country do so well drawing so much support and such a broad base of support."
The numbers in the finance reports also told the story of a real struggle for Democrat Dill, Melcher said.
"She's really in this Catch-22," Melcher said. "Because she doesn't enjoy that name recognition in Maine, she's the type of candidate who really needs to spend a lot of money to establish that, but because she doesn't have that, it's difficult for her to capture the financial support to fund that kind of campaign."
Melcher said King's support was also eroding some traditional sources of funding for the Republican candidate.
"In Maine, a lot of the business community really likes Angus King," Melcher said. "A lot of that traditional business support might well be going to a Republican candidate, but not all those avenues have been open to Charlie Summers here in Maine."