PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Trailing in fundraising with six months until Election Day, Maine Gov. Paul LePage hopes a visit this week from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican Party star, will rally the GOP and raise much-needed campaign cash.
LePage's fundraising efforts were hampered during the legislatives session by rules preventing contributions from lobbyists or businesses or individuals employing lobbyists, his campaign said. But those restrictions are no longer in play now that the legislative session is over.
The LePage fundraiser, and a separate party event, are both closed to the press Wednesday.
The events will provide additional momentum to the party, which emerged from the state convention more unified than it's been in several years, Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage said.
But voters shouldn't expect a dramatic change in terms of the LePage campaign's intensity because it's still early in the campaign season, said Brent Littlefield, LePage's chief political adviser. Mainers are more interested in their summer plans "than a politician popping up their front driveway," he said.
Four years ago, LePage continued to work for Mardens while campaigning.
"He will continue to maintain his schedule as governor while continuing to add pieces of the campaign. But the election is still a long, long, long way off," Littlefield said.
The Republican governor is trailing Democrat Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler in fundraising. In the latest reporting period, Michaud raised $462,000 and Cutler raised $389,000, including a pair of $100,000 personal loans. LePage trailed with $123,000.
As president of the Republican Governors Association, Christie has regular access to the party's top national donors and has traveled to several states to raise money.
Jim Melcher from the University of Maine at Farmington said the governor needs to increase his fundraising but that it's still early and there's plenty of time to do so.
Democrats will likely assail Christie's credibility following a political retribution scandal that has embroiled his administration and raised questions about whether he'll run for president in 2016.
But Christie remains popular in the party, and he's working to put the scandal behind him, said Mark Brewer, political science professor at the University of Maine. And LePage could be helped by the presence of a moderate who's willing to work across the aisle, Brewer said.