Former House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, and Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, are pictured at the Maine State House on Feb. 13, 2018. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Legislative Democrats have opened another wide money lead over Republicans ahead of Maine’s November election, although most of it is due to big transfers from a record-smashing but unsuccessful 2020 U.S. Senate campaign.

It shows how former House Speaker Sara Gideon’s influence is living on after she lost to Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, with nearly $15 million left in her campaign account. She has reported giving more than half of it to causes and charities so far, including $1 million split evenly between the Maine Democratic Party and the legislative campaign arms in June.

That has supercharged legislative fundraising for Maine’s governing party in the 2022 cycle, although minority Republicans have also stepped up their efforts as they seek to replace Gov. Janet Mills with former Gov. Paul LePage and make gains in the chambers.

Taken together, Maine’s dominant parties doubled their fundraising in 2021 compared with 2019, according to campaign finance records for the main political committees controlled by party leaders in each chamber.

Legislative Democrats took in $1.4 million last year to Republicans’ $444,000. House Republicans were the only ones to not double 2019 fundraising. Gideon’s money accounted for $666,000 of that gap.

The beginning of 2022 has also shown a willingness to spend in Maine ahead of a midterm election for President Joe Biden, a Democrat whose national approval has tanked since the summer and stood at nearly 41 percent on Friday, according to RealClearPolitics averages.

House Democrats’ campaign arm spent $44,000 — more than it did on any race in 2020 — to comfortably hold a Portland-area seat in a January special election. A June special election for a Maine Senate seat in the swing area of Hancock County is also sure to draw heavy outside spending and could be seen as a bellwether for November.

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...