WASHINGTON — Maine Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney, R-Springvale, says he is unlikely to make a run for the 1st Congressional District against Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of North Haven.

Courtney said in a phone interview this afternoon that while he hasn’t completely ruled it out, “I am not moving in that direction. It is probably pretty unlikely.”

Courtney, who is prevented by term limits from running again for the state Senate, has been weighing a congressional bid for months.

A big factor in why he is shying from the race is the wealth of Pingree’s husband, billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, and the possibility that the couple could spend a lot of personal money on Pingree’s bid to win a third term in the U.S. House, Courtney said.

“I don’t see a pathway to running a credible challenge at this time,” said Courtney, who owns a dry cleaning business and commercial rental properties. “I don’t have the personal financial resources to be able to get in a battle like that. If I did it, it would be on shoe string and trying to cobble together enough money to run a credible campaign.”

Courtney has been viewed as the most credible potential challenger for Pingree.


Courtney’s counterpart in Maine Senate GOP leadership, Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry, is running against Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District.

But the 2nd District is more rural and conservative than the 1st District, which is dominated by the Portland area. The GOP-controlled redistricting after the 2010 Census only made the 1st District more Democratic-leaning by shifting several thousand Republican voters into the 2nd District.

Pingree has not been considered vulnerable, analysts say.

“Even with Courtney, Republicans were going to have a tough time defeating Pingree,” said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. “Without him, that window of opportunity probably closes a little further. It’s very tough to see Pingree losing at this stage in the cycle.”

Pingree has proven a prolific fundraiser, raising more than $1.2 million for her 2010 campaign, when she handily beat Republican challenger Dean Scontras with 57 percent of the vote.

When she first won her congressional seat in 2008, with 55 percent of the vote, Pingree raised more than $2.2 million in all, including during a multi-candidate primary.


Sussman and others at financial companies he owns, such as Paloma Partners, pumped nearly $180,000 into Pingree’s coffers during the 2008 and 2010 elections, according to the nonpartisan campaign finance research organization Center for Responsive Politics.

But Pingree acknowledged in an interview last year that after her June wedding to Sussman she would have access to much more cash for her race this year. A candidate’s personal funds aren’t subject to federal campaign individual contribution limits.

“I am in a different position now that I am married to Donald, there’s no question about it,” Pingree said in the interview in July.

But Pingree said she didn’t go into the race expecting to utilize personal money.

“I have always been a pretty prolific fundraiser, so I am always prepared to raise as much money as I need to take on a challenger,” Pingree said last year, adding that she had “really no idea” whether she would need to put personal money into the race.

Campaign finance reports for the final quarter of 2011 aren’t due into the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31. As of Sept. 30, Pingree had $114,644 on hand, after raising $73,723.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected] Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

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