Kevin Raye, the Republican challenger in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, got a boost of $82,000 from national party leaders Wednesday, and his campaign consultant says internal polls show the candidate is poised to win.

With just five days until the election, the National Republican Congressional Committee made a maximum contribution to the Raye campaign, campaign consultant Kathie Summers-Grice said.

Election laws allow party committees to fund candidates up to $90,000 during an election cycle. Earlier this year, the committee contributed $8,000 toward polling, so the committee reached its maximum contribution with yesterday’s cash infusion, she said.

Thursday, the campaign released new internal poll results that show Raye pulling even with Democratic incumbent Mike Michaud. The poll, conducted in part by a company that is owned by Summers-Grice, shows Raye leading Michaud 44.3 percent to 43.6 percent, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

The poll — the first to show Raye ahead of the five-term incumbent — was conducted Tuesday by Scientific Marketing and Eaton River Strategies and surveyed 795 likely voters. According to a news release about the poll results, 12 percent of respondents were undecided. The poll asked, “Who do you intend to vote for for 2nd District congressman … Republican Kevin Raye or Democrat Mike Michaud?”

Michaud campaign spokesman Dan Cashman said the poll is inconsistent with the numbers he’s seen.

“Every poll that has been conducted in this campaign shows Mike Michaud with a lead of 15 points or greater. That includes polling done by reputable third-party polling firms,” Cashman said. “They’ve decided to have their own campaign consultant conducting polls, and those are the only results that show this race with anything less than a 15-point lead for Mike Michaud.

“It calls into question the legitimacy of the poll.”

The most recent non-affiliated poll was released Oct. 11, showing Michaud with 52 percent and Raye with 32 percent and a margin of error of 6.9 percentage points. The poll was conducted by Pan-Atlantic SMS Group, a Maine-based marketing research and consulting firm.

Cashman said the Michaud campaign commissioned its own poll last week. Cashman wouldn’t disclose the numbers but said the results are consistent with the public polls. Three independent surveys conducted in mid- to late September showed Michaud leading by comfortable margins — between 15 and 20 percentage points.

The Raye campaign released an internal poll once before, in mid-October. That poll, which also was conducted by Summers-Grice’s company, showed Raye within 7 percentage points of Michaud. Cashman had said Raye was trailing by 25 percentage points in the Michaud campaign’s internal polls.

Summers-Grice said the Raye campaign has been watching internal polls inch toward Raye’s favor for several weeks. She believes several factors have changed the race, including a new television ad featuring a pitch for Raye from Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, Raye’s support for small businesses, and four “tremendous debate performances.”

“And, quite frankly, I think people look at Mike (Michaud) and say, ‘Hey, he’s a nice guy, but he’s part of the problem,'” she said. “We’re very, very happy about where we’re at in the campaign.”

In June, the National Republican Congressional Committee named Raye as one of 38 notable candidates running for the House — a group called the Young Guns. In September, the committee launched a multimillion-dollar television blitz in support of 21 Young Guns — 55 percent of them — but Raye wasn’t included.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239
[email protected]

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