- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Maine’s freshman congressman continues to amass a campaign war chest with more than $1.2 million in cash on hand in what’s expected to be an expensive race in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin has raised $450,000 in past three months, bringing his total raised this campaign cycle to more than $1.5 million, his campaign announced Monday. The congressman’s full report with details on donors will be filed with the Federal Election Commission by Thursday’s deadline.

The fundraising total represents big money in Maine’s sprawling northern district, where Democrats hope to unseat Poliquin in a presidential election year that promises higher turnout than in 2014, when he defeated Democrat Emily Cain, who is seeking a rematch.

The total raised by Poliquin to date is approaching the amount he raised during the entirety of his 2014 campaign.

“That’s a lot of money for the 2nd District of Maine. It sends a message, ‘Don’t challenge me,’” said Ronald Schmidt, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine.

Democrats will need to rally behind the primary winner with comparable spending to be competitive. “If Democrats can find similar sources of income, this could become a really viable race,” he said.

Cain, who trailed in fundraising in the last report with $300,000 to Poliquin’s $1 million, will file her quarterly report on Thursday. Her primary opponent, Joe Baldacci, will be filing his first report, as well.

Baldacci’s spokesman said much of Poliquin’s money has come from political action commitees and other members of Congress, representing “everything that is wrong with our current political system.”

“$1.5 million is an indecent amount of money in less than nine months in office and is another example of bought-and-sold legislation available to the highest bidder,” said spokesman Jason Burke.

For her part, Cain is “excited about the strong financial support and grassroots momentum that we’re building,” said Corey Haskell, her campaign manager.

Poliquin suggested the money will be needed to counter negative attacks.

“In 2014, my campaign and supporters were outspent by nearly a one-half million dollars, most used to push false attacks distorting my record and policies,” Poliquin said in a statement. “Now, more than one year before the 2016 election, the same attacks have already started.”

The money is just a sign of things to come because both parties think they have a chance in the race, said Mark Brewer, political scientist from the University of Maine.

“If it ends up with a Poliquin-Cain matchup, we’re going to shatter records for a House race. The sheer amount of money is going to be staggering,” he said.

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