Early fundraising previews heated battle for control of Maine’s next Legislature

Good morning from Augusta. There are eight days until the June 12 primary election and the 11 Republican and Democratic candidates spent nearly 90 percent of the money that they have raised as of Saturday, but other crucial campaigns are just gearing up.

The 2018 legislative elections have gotten almost no ink so far, but that’s about to change with control of both the Senate and House of Representatives firmly up for grabs in November. Those who sit among the fundraising leaders are mostly a mix of primary and swing-district hopefuls.

Five representatives who are seeking promotions sit atop the Senate fundraising leaderboard. The fundraising leader in Senate campaigns is Rep. Heather Sanborn of Portland, who is running against City Councilor Jill Duson in a Democratic primary for the seat held by Sen. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who is running for governor. Sanborn has raised $26,000 as of May 29, while Duson is a Clean Election candidate who had $11,100 then.

After Sanborn sits four House Republicans who are also looking to win open seats in the Senate. Matt Pouliot of Augusta raised $23,500, Brad Farrin of Norridgewock raised $23,300, Robert Foley of Wells raised $23,000 and Jeff Timberlake of Turner raised $13,800. Each of them are running to replace four term-limited Republicans in 2018.

Eight House candidates have raised more than $10,000. Rep. Lester Ordway, R-Standish, is officially the fundraising leader in House races, but virtually all of his money came from a $15,000 personal loan. Former Rep. Don Marean, R-Hollis, transferred $13,200 from an old campaign fund.

More impressive is the haul from former state Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds, who is running for Timberlake’s seat and raised $13,900 for second place in House races. That seat is deeply red, but Nutting could benefit from a three-way Republican primary between Turner Selectman Angelo Terreri, businessman and veteran Alexander Pape and Joshua Morris.

Ordway, Marean and Nutting are followed by four Republicans and one Democrat in the top eight. For Republicans, Guy Lebida, a former Senate candidate from Bowdoin, raised $12,500 for his run at Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, James Booth of Arundel raised $11,700 for an open-seat race. Allyson Cavaretta of York raised $10,700 to challenge Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York. Justin Fecteau of Augusta raised $10,300 for a bid for Pouliot’s seat.

Democrat Anne Carney of Cape Elizabeth raised $10,600 to run for an open seat currently held by a term-llimited Democrat. She has a June 12 primary against Mary Ann Lynch, a longtime spokeswoman for Maine’s judicial branch who is running as a Clean Election candidate.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this item incorrectly identified Allyson Cavaretta as a Democrat. It was a reporter’s error.

Reading list

  • Challengers in the congressional races are increasing their spending but still face massive campaign bank accounts held by the incumbents. Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is sitting on $2.8 million in the 2nd Congressional District and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has more than $600,000 in the 1st District. Meanwhile, Democrats seeking the nomination to run against Poliquin are spending heavily with the primary about a week away.
  • The governor’s race picked up another general election candidate Friday. The focus right now is on next week’s primary but Friday was the deadline for independent gubernatorial candidates to collect and submit at least 4,000 signatures to qualify for the general election ballot. Economist Alan Caron of Freeport met the threshold and will join state Treasurer Terry Hayes as independents vying against whoever wins the Republican and Democratic primaries. Also qualifying as independents were Tiffany Bond of Portland and William Hoar of Southwest Harbor for the 2nd Congressional District race and Martin Grohman of Biddeford in the 1st District, along with about 20 candidates for the Legislature.
  • More than 15 percent of students in Maine schools are considered “chronically absent.” The Maine Department of Education recently released new data on the subject, and the high number of chronically absent students surprised state administrators. The fact that more than 29,000 students fall into that category has state and local education officials looking for new ways to determine the reasons why individual students miss so much class time and introduce programs to fix the problem. The absenteeism rates appear to be especially pronounced in rural areas and large service center communities. And not surprisingly, there is a correlation between chronic absenteeism and the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch (a common measure educators use to track poverty).
  • Bar Harbor is reeling after a teen was found dead in woods near a school there. Searchers discovered the body of Mikaela Conley, 19, at noon Saturday. She had been missing since Thursday. An investigation into the cause of her death and an autopsy are underway. Mourning neighbors left bouquets of red roses and simple wildflowers Sunday next to a photograph of Conley propped on the steps of her family’s downtown restaurant, 2 Cats.

I taste great if you’re a wood tick

My 7-year-old, a bunch of Cub Scouts and I spent the weekend camping on Swan Island in the Kennebec River near Richmond. Before I go on, let me say what a great place that is to visit and pitch a tent. Once the home of a couple hundred residents, it’s now mostly vacant except for their solid but aging and empty whitewashed houses, old-growth forests and expansive fields of grass and wildflowers.

The one damper on the weekend were the wood ticks — and the fact that my boy and I attract them. We wore long pants and enough bug spray to drown a buffalo, and for the most part stayed on the trails and away from long grass. Still, I estimate that I picked 30 ticks from the two of us, which was easily two or three times the number the rest of our campmates found combined.

I did a little research and didn’t come up with anything definitive other than they are possibly more attracted to people who sweat (check), who drink milk (check), who have Type O blood (check) and who exhale more carbon dioxide than others (no idea, but my wife says, “oh yes”).

I’ve heard people suggest smearing Vicks VapoRub on their ankles to keep the ticks away, but what about the ones that appeared all over our upper bodies, like they dive-bombed from trees or something? Do they sell that stuff by the gallon? Maybe I’ll try it next time but in the meantime my boys and I will just keep up the every-30-minutes tick checks.

Even now, in my dining room. After that experience I can “feel” things crawling all over me even though I know they aren’t. Ick. Here’s my soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins, Michael Shepherd and Robert Long. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but email us directly at ccousins@bangordailynews.com, mshepherd@bangordailynews.com or rlong@bangordailynews.com.

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.