U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin celebrates after declaring victory over Emily Cain in the 2nd Congressional District at Dysart's in Bangor in 2016. Credit: Micky Bedell

AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin raised nearly two times more money than everyone else running 2018 races in Maine’s two congressional districts through last year’s end, putting him in a commanding position in a district that will again be nationally targeted.

The Republican from Maine’s 2nd District raised $2.2 million through December’s end, according to reports due to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, with roughly half of that coming from individuals and half coming from political committees.

His five Democratic opponents raised a total of $795,000. They were led by Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden of Lewiston at $346,000 and conservationist Lucas St. Clair of Hampden, who raised $207,000 after entering the race in early October.

They have a long way to go to chase Poliquin, a prodigious fundraiser who beat Democrat Emily Cain in 2014 to win a seat held by Democrats for 20 years. He beat Cain again in 2016, when President Donald Trump put the 2nd District in Republicans’ column for the first time since 1988.

However, the rural district still leans Democratic by voter registration. Trump’s approval rating is sitting around 41 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics average. Democrats need 24 seats to win back the House over Republicans and may need to oust Poliquin in order to do it.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm for House Republicans, has added Poliquin to a list of 24 priority incumbents that they’re planning to protect in 2018 and their Democratic counterpart has been messaging hard against Poliquin during the past year.

Just under half of Poliquin’s money came from individuals, but another $1 million came from political committees. A member of the House Financial Services Committee, he got maximum contributions from committees run by financial giants Goldman Sachs and UBS Americas.

Poliquin has $1.9 million left on-hand. Golden and St. Clair raised virtually all of their money from individuals, though Golden spent nearly half of his haul through 2017’s end. St. Clair had $140,000 left in his coffers.

They were followed in the Democratic field by builder and former Maine Senate candidate Jonathan Fulford of Monroe at a total of $106,000, Islesboro bookseller Craig Olson at $87,000 and Seal Harbor restaurateur Tim Rich at $50,000. All of their money came from individuals and they have $76,000, $61,000 and $13,000 left, respectively.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat who ruled out a run for governor in December and beat Republican Mark Holbrook easily in 2016 to win her fifth term, raised $221,000 through 2017 with $138,000 of that coming from individuals and $83,000 from political committees.

But her campaign has $593,000 left in its coffers. Holbrook, a Brunswick counselor who is running again in 2018, raised $39,000 — almost all of it from individuals — with $32,000 left.

For a roundup of Maine political news, click here for the Daily Brief. Click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...