Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., listens as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks during a House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A version of this article was originally published in The Daily Brief, our Maine politics newsletter. Sign up here for daily news and insight from politics editor Michael Shepherd.

As things stand, President Joe Biden is under no serious threat to lose the Democratic nomination in 2024.

But one of his rivals is generating some fundraising momentum in Maine despite his longshot status and fringe views. That is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose campaign raised just over $23,000 from Maine between February and the end of June, according to campaign filings.

It was more than any other presidential candidate besides Biden and former President Donald Trump during that period. Maine was the second-smallest of the 30 states he has drawn the most money from so far. This may be more a curiosity than a sign of major support, but it is notable in relation to the rest of the field and for who it’s coming from.

The context: Kennedy rejects the “anti-vaxx” label, but the Associated Press recently examined his record and found numerous examples of him taking that line, including when his anti-vaccine group, Children’s Health Defense, promoted a sticker campaign including one saying “IF YOU’RE NOT AN ANTI-VAXXER YOU AREN’T PAYING ATTENTION.”

His group is paying for the legal defense of Dr. Meryl Nass, who is fighting a Maine board’s decision to suspend her license based on her treatment of three COVID-19 patients with drugs that have not been proven to fight the condition. She has also blogged that vaccines cause reproductive harm, something that has never been substantiated.

After a hearing last month, she texted someone to say she has succeeded in making the board case “a spectacle” given the attention it has received from Kennedy’s group and across the right-wing media ecosystem, the Maine Monitor reported.

Nass, who lives in Ellsworth, has donated more than $1,000 to Kennedy this year. He has also gotten money from Christiane Northrup, a former OB-GYN and celebrity doctor whose Instagram account was suspended in 2021 for COVID-19 misinformation. Last year, Maine Public reported that she espoused conspiracy theories to Maine lawmakers, telling a committee that the vaccines were part of a “global genocide enterprise” to depopulate the world.

What’s next: The political stakes are likely low here, since presidential candidates do not generally raise much money in Maine. Kennedy is still sitting in the single digits in Democratic polls both nationally and in key states.

However, Maine is debuting open presidential primaries during the 2024 election, which will allow 350,000 or so unenrolled voters to participate in one election or the other.

Kennedy’s level of support here could be an interesting case study if Trump continues to keep a firm hold on a crowded Republican primary and some choose the Democratic one to lodge protest votes against Biden, given Maine’s past propensity to embrace longshot candidates from Ross Perot in the 1990s to relatively high shares for more recent third-party hopefuls.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after time at the Kennebec Journal. He lives in Augusta, graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and has a master's degree from the University...