The Maine Republican Party outraised its Democratic counterpart in early 2022 as the parties gear up for competitive elections this November to determine control of Augusta.
Maine is set to see a high-profile gubernatorial race between Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, and former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican. The state could also see among the most competitive legislative elections in the U.S. as Republicans look to break a Democratic trifecta after four years. The majority party remains ahead in the legislative fundraising race.
But Republicans bested Democrats in state party fundraising, with the Maine Republican Party bringing in $446,000 in the first three months of the year for its state account, buoyed by $150,000 from the Republican Governors Association. That is up significantly from the same period in 2018, when Republicans brought in just $45,000, another signal of a greater investment in the gubernatorial race compared to four years ago.
The Maine Democratic Party, by contrast, received about $48,000 from the Democratic Governors Association. It reported a total of $210,000 in fundraising in the first three months of 2022 for its state account, although much of that was transfers from a well-funded legislative committee.
Maine Democrats have led in fundraising in their federal campaign account, bringing in $237,000 through the end of March compared to $105,000 for Republicans. Federal funds often go to support federal candidates, but they can be transferred to state groups as well.
Democratic-affiliated legislative groups continued to outraise Republican counterparts, with the political committees responsible for electing Democrats to the Maine House and Senate respectively bringing in $112,000 and $151,000, compared to $14,000 and $10,000 for their Republican counterparts.
The first-quarter totals build on Democrats’ legislative fundraising advantage in 2021, which was fueled by donations from the campaign committee of former U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon. Democratic caucus groups typically raise more than their Republican counterparts in Maine, but the gap so far this year is greater than in previous cycles.
Fundraising does not determine electoral outcomes, but it does give parties greater ability to run ads, send mailers or otherwise support candidates down the stretch. The Maine Republican Party has already made $3.9 million in ad purchases for the fall, a total that already exceeds what it invested in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
State parties and caucus groups are often the largest players in state elections, but other groups, including national party affiliates, can also get involved. The Republican State Legislative Committee, for example, has run ads in Maine encouraging voters dissatisfied with President Joe Biden to vote for Republican candidates at the state level.
At the candidate level, Mills maintained a fundraising lead over LePage in 2021, with about $1.3 million cash on hand at the end of the year for the incumbent compared to $600,000 for her challenger. The pair will have to file their next campaign finance reports in June.