WASHINGTON – Scott D’Amboise, a Republican primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, raised $117,394 during the year’s second quarter, according to his campaign.

But that is just a fraction compared to the more than $2.7 million in Snowe’s campaign coffers.

The three-term incumbent, facing Tea Party-affiliated 2012 primary challenges from D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls and Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell, took in just over $1 million during the second quarter and had more than $2.74 million on hand as of June 30, according to her campaign. In the first quarter of the year, Snowe raised more than $877,000.

The deadline for filing campaign finance reports is not until July 15, but it is typical for campaigns to release bottom line numbers early. Dodge has not yet released any fundraising totals.

D’Amboise, who ran against Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in 2006, is a health care technician and owner of a commercial cleaning business. Dodge is a freelance writer.

Two Maine Democrats, state Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland and former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap of Old Town, said earlier this month that they are contemplating making a run at Snowe,  setting up a potential Democratic Party primary in the 2012 general election.

D’Amboise’s campaign says his fundraising haul, the first of his campaign, comes from nearly 3,000 individual contributions, asserting that shows grassroots conservative support for a campaign against Snowe, who is considered a moderate Republican. D’Amboise’s final report is still being put together, but he will have about $90,000 on hand as of the end of the quarter, his campaign said.

D’Amboise compared his fledgling campaign to last year’s winning gubernatorial bid by Republican Paul LePage, who backed by Tea Party supporters, narrowly won a three-way general election with 38 percent of the vote.

“Last year’s governor’s race demonstrated that millions of dollars cannot overcome the desire of the Republican base to unite behind a conservative candidate,” D’Amboise said in a statement this morning. Conservatives in Maine and elsewhere will join to defeat Snowe’s “leftist agenda,” he added.

LePage, however, has endorsed Snowe’s bid for a fourth term. LePage had a long-standing personal relationship with Snowe’s late first husband, Peter Snowe.

Sharon Miller, a Snowe campaign spokeswoman, said that the Snowe campaign is “really thrilled with our numbers. We are happy with the support we have from Maine Republicans. We are building a tremendous grassroots organization.”

Independent analysts have been skeptical about the ability of D’Amboise and Dodge to knock off Snowe. The nonpartisan Washington-based Cook Political Report rates Snowe as “likely” to win reelection.

Still, that means, Cook says, that Snowe potentially is vulnerable.

“These seats are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged,” Cook says about the prospects of incumbents that fall into the “likely” category.

Snowe won her last race in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote. She’s never had a GOP primary challenger during her three previous U.S. Senate races or any of her U.S. House races.

In an interview earlier this year, Snowe said she is “always worried about any election” and doesn’t “blame people for being angry and feeling disconnected from Washington,” but her goal is simply to “make sure people understand who I am. I have been there and I have been fighting” on behalf of Maine interests.

Some observers have said Snowe has charted a more conservative course this year in the face of a conservative challenge. Snowe says she always has been fiscally conservative when it comes to pursuing initiatives such as a balanced budget amendment.

However, Snowe also voted against the House GOP budget plan by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The plan was criticized by Democrats and a few Republicans as making overly deep cuts and for gradually turning Medicare into a system where beneficiaries buy their coverage from private health insurance plans, using a set payment that could mean their out-of-pocket costs increase. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also voted against the Ryan budget plan.

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