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Poliquin to Report Raising $700,000 for Re-election Bid

Mal Leary
Bruce Poliquin celebrates after winning the Republican nomination in June of 2014.

WASHINGTON - Freshman Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin has only been casting votes in Washington for just over three months but already his re-election campaign is kicking into high gear. His chief political strategist says Poliquin will report raising $700,000 to the Federal Elections Commission this week. 

And political observers say that's a sign of things to come.  Chief political strategist Brent Littlefield says Poliquin's fundraising in the first quarter will establish a benchmark for freshmen lawmakers. The previous record of $557,000 was set by Democratic freshman Congressman Patrick Murphy, of Florida, in the last election cycle - a cycle dominated by money in general.  

Littlefield says he's happy with the current total and looking forward to raising more. "Our total is significant," he says. "We do have a long way to go because we do expect hundreds of thousands of dollars spent in attack ads against Bruce Poliquin, so we're going to be aggressively working to make sure we can handle that."

Littlefield says most of the $700,000 was raised in the month of March on the heels of Democrat Emily Cain's announcement that she will again challenge Poliquin for the 2nd congressional seat in 2016.  A former state senator, Cain lost to Poliquin in November by a margin of about 5 percentage points.

Cain's campaign released a statement saying it has raised just over $135,000 in the first month since she announced her candidacy. The deadline for first quarter filings for congressional candidates is Wednesday.  Littlefield says the Poliquin re-election campaign is pleased that its record will show that nearly 60 percent of the money raised on his behalf is coming from individuals, although it's unclear what percentage are from Maine.

"The remaining funds are from political committees, a lot of contributions from other members of Congress, what we call "member-to-member" contributions, and then some joint fundraising activities," Littlefield says. "But close to 60 percent from individuals, and we feel like that's a great story to tell."

"I think it gives our first indication that this is going to be an incredibly expensive race for the 2nd congressional seat here in Maine," says University of Maine Political Science Professor Mark Brewer. "It will break whatever records we have - it will break those, I'm sure."

Brewer says Poliquin's fundraising is impressive. He says he's not surprised, given Poliquin's background and connections in the world of finance, and his place on the House Financial Services Committee.  Still, Brewer says this effort sends a strong message.

"It tells his one challenger right now that we know of, Emily Cain, and any others that might come out, that he's going to be a serious force to be reckoned with in terms of how much money he's going to be able to raise."

In its statement, Cain's campaign points out that her fundraising total is double what she raised during the same time in the last election cycle.  She has not yet reported how much cash she has on hand. Poliquin's campaign, meanwhile, says it will report $665,000 on hand.

Calls to the Cain campaign seeking comment for this story were not returned by air time.