WASHINGTON — As Maine’s Democratic U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud raise money for their 2012 campaigns, two prominent Republican state legislators are among those considering challenging the incumbents.

Pingree, who represents the 1st Congressional District, raised $134,749 in the second quarter of this year and had $109,642 on hand as of June 30, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday. Her campaign committee owed $47,158.

Michaud, who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, raised $128,920 and had $168,215 on hand as of the end of the quarter, according to his report.

Pingree and Michaud won by comfortable margins in 2010, a bad year for most Democrats. The amounts they have raised during the 2012 campaign cycle are relatively modest for incumbents, but neither has a well-known opponent yet.

The nonpartisan, Washington-based Cook Political Report does not have Pingree or Michaud on its current list of competitive House races for 2012, though it notes that congressional redistricting and other factors make it too soon to know all of the races that will wind up on that list.

Two Republicans who could boost the profile of Maine’s races could be state Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry and state Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney of Springvale, though they are far from the only Republicans considering runs against Pingree and Michaud.


Raye said “a lot of people are talking to me about” challenging Michaud, but he has not set a time frame for making a decision. “It is something I will approach deliberately and thoughtfully.”

Michaud first won his House seat in 2002, by defeating Raye with 52 percent of the vote.

Raye, a former top aide to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, is in his fourth term in the state Senate, so he cannot run for re-election. Raye said Michaud — a member of the “Blue Dog” coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats — would be a “formidable opponent.”

Raye said that if he ran, he would stress his philosophical differences with Michaud and his leadership of Senate Republicans in a year when “we really distinguished ourselves by working well across party lines and our approach in getting things done and being constructive.”

Jason Levesque of Auburn, Michaud’s challenger in 2010, said Monday that he is “keeping his options open” regarding a 2012 congressional bid. He said that if he runs again for the U.S. House, it might be against Pingree, rather than Michaud, depending on how Maine’s congressional redistricting plays out this year.

A Michaud campaign spokesman, Greg Olson, declined to comment on potential GOP challengers.


“As far as our fundraising goes, I will say that congressional fundraising is more of a marathon than a sprint and we are keeping pace with our historical performance in an off-year,” Olson said via email. “Mike has never taken any election for granted and the one coming up in a year and half will be no different. Right now he is focused on doing the job he was elected to do in November.”

There are a host of potential GOP challengers to Pingree, a member of the House Progressive Caucus who will seek a third term in 2012. Among them is Shawn Moody, who ran for governor as an independent last year and might run for Congress as an independent or a Republican, the website Pine Tree Politics has noted.

Patrick Calder of Portland appears to be the only Republican rival to Pingree who filed a second-quarter fundraising report last week with the Federal Election Commission.

The merchant mariner, who is the senior engineer aboard a cruise ship six months a year, reported raising $3,000 in the second quarter. He said he believes he would add a “breath of fresh air” to a GOP primary and a general election.

Perhaps the biggest political name to be weighing a run against Pingree is Courtney, the No. 2 Republican in the state Senate, who is serving his fourth and final Senate term.

Courtney said he is “seriously discussing” a run against Pingree. “We need to sit down and see if there is a path to actually winning this. I am not really interested in being a sacrificial lamb,” Courtney said.


Despite Pingree’s modest fundraising to date, Courtney said he expects the incumbent Democrat to raise a lot of campaign cash for 2012. He also raised the idea that Pingree and her husband, billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, could plow a lot of personal money into the race. Pingree and Sussman got married in June.

Willy Ritch, a spokesman for the Pingree campaign, said Pingree’s campaign is satisfied with its fundraising pace to date, but he did not rule out personal money playing a role in the campaign.

“The campaign is very actively raising money, and the last election was just a few months ago,” Ritch said. “Whether or not (Pingree) self-finances some part of her campaign, that decision is way off in the future.”

Pingree’s campaign is raising money and keeping in touch with supporters, Ritch said, while Pingree herself “is really focused on her job right now. She is not putting a lot of time into thinking about who may or may not run against her next November.”

Jonathan Riskind — 791-6280



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