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Campaign cash “from away” floods Maine Senate race

by | Feb 12, 2020

Sen. Susan Collins (left) and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon.

Nearly all of the money supporting Republican Sen. Susan Collins’ 2020 reelection bid has come from outside of Maine, fueling a race likely to be dominated by out-of-state cash that breaks fundraising records.

Democrat Sara Gideon is also drawing far more support from big-money, out-of-state donors than from Mainers, though she has a greater share of in-state contributions than Collins does.

Campaign finance data released this week by the Federal Election Commission show that less than 4 percent of the $10 million supporting Collins came from major donors in Maine. By comparison, about 18 percent of the $8 million supporting Gideon’s candidacy came from Mainers giving over $200.

Click on a candidate or a state in the interactive graphic below to compare the candidates.

The addresses of contributors who give less than $200 (so-called “unitemized” donations) are not disclosed on campaign finance forms. But if all of Collins’ small contributions came from Maine donors, that would still amount to only 7.5 percent of her total as of the end of 2019. Over $3 million of Gideon’s total came from “unitemized” donations.

No other candidate in this race has raised anything close to Collins’ and Gideon’s haul — together they account for 98 percent of the spending in the race. Democrat Betsy Sweet, one of three contenders challenging Gideon in her party’s June 9 primary, is a distant third, with about $232,000. (Collins has no Republican challenger in this race.)

This analysis of campaign finance data factors in spending by political action committees (PACs), individuals and political parties.

Donors in Washington, D.C., and Virginia gave Collins about $3.3 million through the end of last year, and she also received sizable support from California (nearly $1 million) and Texas (over half a million dollars). Gideon received about $460,000 from D.C. donors and other sources; contributors in California and New York are also major backers of her campaign.

If you’d like to explore the data yourself, visit this Google Doc or query the FEC tables yourself in this project at data.world. The data is updated nightly with new outside and party-coordinated spending.

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