Cain narrows fundraising gap with Poliquin in high-dollar 2nd District race

Good morning from Augusta, where we saw massive, new fundraising figures in the nationally targeted race in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District over the weekend. Nearly $11 million has been spent on the rematch between U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, and Democrat Emily Cain.

Cain, a former state senator from Orono, came through with her strongest performance to date, raising $1.1 million between July and September’s end in what her campaign called the highest quarterly total ever for a Maine congressional candidate for a total haul of $2.8 million so far.

Poliquin raised just over $500,000, but he has held a money lead all along and still did as of Sept. 30, raising nearly $3.2 million campaign-long with $638,000 more left in the bank.

But Cain is benefiting from most of the $5 million in outside money in the race so far, with $3 million of that being spent against Poliquin by Democratic groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC.

To put things in perspective, only $6.7 million was spent on the Cain-Poliquin race in 2014, which was a record. With more than three weeks to go, this $11 million figure will balloon.

Maine’s other congressional race isn’t moving any cash dials: U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District, is coasting toward a virtually certain re-election with $563,000 raised as of September’s end and $544,000 in the bank. Her Republican opponent, Mark Holbrook, raised $84,000 with just $28,238 left. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • You have until 5 p.m. to sign up for our interactive project on ranked-choice voting. Do that and read the fine print here. It’s a rerun of Maine’s 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial races, only this time, you can vote the way you would if Question 5 passes in November. Once you sign up, you’ll get an email with the voting form.
  • Travel guru Rick Steves will be campaigning Monday in support of the marijuana legalization proposal in Question 1 on the November ballot. The PBS host is a donor to legalization efforts in Maine and other states. He’ll have a media availability in Portland from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a 6:30 p.m. lecture at the University of New England’s Portland campus.
  • Solar advocates are set to rally on Monday before a hearing on new rules proposed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The proposal would lower credits for homeowners and small solar generators who sell power to the grid. Opponents of the policy will hold a noon rally and press conference outside the commission’s offices in Hallowell.
  • The LePage administration says it’s cracking down on illegally placed political signs. The governor’s office said the Maine Department of Transportation “will increase enforcement and removal of political signs that do not meet the law” after a rash of complaints.
  • Former Maine gubernatorial candidate Pat Lamarche will be back in Bangor to raise money for Green presidential nominee Jill Stein. The former Bangor radio broadcaster who is now a homeless services advocate in Pennsylvania will headline a potluck and fundraiser on Oct. 25 at the Bangor Grange Hall, according to Stein’s campaign. Lamarche was the party’s gubernatorial candidate in 1998 and 2006 and the vice presidential nominee in 2004.
  • The Libertarian Party of Maine’s chairman called a Republican office’s firebombing in North Carolina “merely an opportunity for smores,” but he said he was “wrong.” Chris Lyons’ Facebook comment was quickly condemned by Republicans and he later made a mea culpa, saying his intent was “never to minimize or down play the true wrong of the lawless actions of one against another.” — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

An Internet person thinks I spray-painted the cars at the Trump rally

As you probably know, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s Saturday rally in Bangor was marred by vandalism when approximately 20 cars were sprayed with white paint.

The story is really taking off: My Facebook live video where I talk to victims of the vandalism now has more than 37,000 views alone after circulating in pro-Trump circles after his rally, where he blamed a “rigged system” of media and government officials working against his campaign.

So, the increase in traffic to my Facebook page meant that I took a bit of abuse. If you watch the video all the way through, there are some funny moments, where people are joking with me about the damage. I joke back with them.

Some Trump supporters, however, are not happy. One calls my laughing “quite annoying.” Another says, “Mike Shepard! This is not a laughing matter!” Another says, “Funny to you? Sick media!” One guy says laughing is “a sign of being nervous” and calls me a “loser!”

One person says, “I think the reporter did it. Why was he just walking up the street? Hmmm…” But my alibi is pretty solid, since I was in the rally and went to the area after I was alerted to the damage by a woman who drove by me as I walked back to my car.

I do have a supporter or two, however, with one person saying, “Lay off the news guy he is cool.” Thanks, Daniel. My girlfriend especially appreciated your comment. — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.