The three Republicans seeking to oust first-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden collectively raised less than half as much money in the first three months of 2020 as the Democratic incumbent in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Adrienne Bennett, left, Eric Brakey and Dale Crafts. File photos

Despite representing a district that leans Republican – voting for President Donald Trump by a large margin in 2016 — Golden is sitting on $1.7 million in campaign cash – more than five times as much money as his GOP contenders have among them.

Two years ago, when the Lewiston resident was locked in a Democratic primary for the right to take on incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, he raised $272,000 in the first quarter of the year, almost twice as much as the best showing among his potential challengers.

For now, though, the three challengers are focused on a race closer at hand than the November general election against Golden. They’re trying to win over rank-and-filed Republicans in a primary recently rescheduled to take place July 14.

In the GOP money race, former state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn has easily outpaced opponents Dale Crafts of Lisbon and Adrienne Bennett of Bangor. Brakey has raised $648,000 over the course of the campaign while Crafts has taken in $178,000 and Bennett $84,000.

Brakey’s campaign, which took in $140,000 in the first quarter, touted the fact that he raised “nearly triple the amount of all other GOP primary candidates combined – and nearly double in the first quarter alone.”

But the race is a lot closer when you look at how much each of the three had on hand after the first three months of the year, numbers that became available when each of the candidates filed Federal Election Commission reports late Wednesday.

Jared Golden

Brakey has $169,000 in his campaign coffers while Crafts has $128,0000. Bennett, a former television news reporter who later served as press secretary for Gov. Paul LePage, has $39,000 available.

Crafts, a former state lawmaker, said the numbers show he is the strongest candidate to take on Golden.

He said Brakey’s rapid spending on his campaign “shows his lack of fiscal responsibility” and belies his claim to be conservative when it comes to spending.

“As a businessman, I am trained to pay close attention to the numbers, and it is a clear disregard of resources” for Brakey to have spent three-quarters of everything he raised before April 1. That kind of “extremely high overhead” limits his ability to compete in the months ahead, Crafts said.

“If he can’t maintain a tight budget in his own campaign, how can he possibly be trusted with taxpayer money in Washington?” Crafts asked.

“I value and understand how to maximize each dollar to its greatest worth,” Crafts said. “It’s just what businessmen do.”

Brakey’s campaign said, though, that it has spent money on the campaign, including knocking on more than 35,000 doors in the sprawling, rural district before the coronavirus pandemic forced them to stop.

Now, it said, “those energies have shifted to calling voters at their homes.”

Even though it has spent the most so far, Brakey pointed out on Twitter that his campaign still has “the most cash on hand of all GOP contenders,” putting him “in the strongest position to win.”


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