Democrat Sara Gideon raised more than $39 million for her U.S. Senate campaign in the third quarter of this year, nearly five times the $8 million contributed to the campaign of Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

The fundraising on both sides is fueling a hotly contested U.S. Senate race that has already surpassed the $100 million mark when factoring in what has been raised and spent by political action committees that support or oppose candidates. It also reflects huge amounts of money that is pouring into Senate races nationwide as Democrats look to regain the majority in the Senate.

“There’s clearly more spending than there’s ever been spent in the race in Maine before,” said Sandy Maisel, a professor of government at Colby College. “That says something about the importance of the race and it also reflects what is happening nationally.”

Gideon, Maine’s speaker of the House, filed her quarterly fundraising and spending reports with the Federal Election Commission just before midnight Thursday, the deadline. The report shows her campaign raised $39.3 million and spent $22 million in July, August and September. She had $22.7 million in cash on hand at the end of September.

Of her recent total, $38.5 million in contributions came from individuals, about $260,000 came from party committees and political action committees and another $538,000 was transferred from other authorized committees.

Collins, who is seeking her fifth term, reported raising about $7.4 million from individuals plus $320,000 from party committees and political action committees during the three-month period ending on Sept. 30, according to a summary of her campaign’s filing posted late Thursday night on the FEC website.

Additionally, other political committees raising money to help Collins transferred $581,000 to her campaign. The FEC summary said that, to date, Collins’ campaign had received $25.2 million in total contributions.

Collins reported ending the period with $6.6 million in her campaign coffers.

While an enormous figure by Maine election standards prior to 2020, the roughly $8 million Collins raised from July through September only brought her up to Gideon’s levels as of June 30, when the Democrat reported $23 million in total fundraising. Gideon’s total has now topped $62 million since her campaign began.

There are also two independents in the Senate race – Max Linn of Bar Harbor and Lisa Savage of Solon – who are both considered long shots but whose involvement could affect the ranked-choice election. If neither Collins nor Gideon receives a majority of the vote, state election officials will retabulate the ballots with the second- and potentially third-choice preferences of voters who designated Savage or Linn as their first choice.

Savage reported $174,709 in contributions as of Sept. 30 and ended the quarter with just over $42,000 unspent. Linn’s filing showed $178 in contributions and $10,280 in cash on hand.

Maine’s Senate matchup is among a handful of hotly contested races nationwide that will decide which party controls the chamber next year. Prior to Wednesday’s filings, Gideon ranked seventh among Senate candidates nationally in terms of money raised. Only candidates in Arizona, South Carolina and Kentucky were pulling in more money.

In Kentucky, former Marine Amy McGrath, a Democrat challenging Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, raised $36.9 million this quarter and has raised more than $84 million total. McConnell, meanwhile, raised $15.8 million for the quarter and has raised $53.6 million overall.

In Arizona, another state where Democrats see an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat, Democrat Mark Kelly is outraising incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally, having pulled in almost $83 million so far this election cycle compared to McSally’s $52 million.

“While this race is about Sen. Collins and Speaker Gideon, it’s really just as much about the extent to which people in Maine and around the country don’t want Mitch McConnell to stay as leader in the Senate because of the things he has done and the way he’s autocratically ruled the Senate, according to Democrats,” said Maisel, the Colby professor.

Massive amounts of money are helping Democratic candidates, like South Carolina’s Jamie Harrison, get on the radar with voters and be taken seriously, Maisel said.

Harrison, who is challenging Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, raised $57.9 million this quarter compared to Graham’s $28.5 million.

In Maine, the Senate race has shattered every previous record for fundraising and spending in the state, with much of the money flowing in from donors and organizations in other states. In 2014, the last time Collins was up for re-election, she raised $6.4 million and won with almost 70 percent of the vote, while Democrat Shenna Bellows raised $2.4 million.

Although both Gideon and Collins have raised record amounts of money for their respective campaigns this year, outside groups making so-called “independent expenditures” have funneled more money into Maine’s Senate race than the two campaigns combined.

Political action committees, or PACs, as well as super PACs have reported spending more than $71 million to either support or oppose Collins and Gideon, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks money in politics.

The bulk of that money – just shy of $60 million – was spent on the negative ads that are filling television and radio airwaves as well as Mainers’ computer screens and mailboxes. The $58 million in negative spending was equally divided between the two candidates, while outside organizations had spent roughly $11 million to directly support either Collins ($7.3 million) or Gideon ($4 million).

The biggest outside spenders in Maine’s Senate race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, are: the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC ($14.4 million); the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($13.7 million); the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC ($9.7 million); 1820 PAC, a pro-Collins super PAC ($8 million); Women Vote!, a pro-Gideon super PAC ($3.6 million) and End Citizens United, a pro-Gideon PAC ($2.1 million).

Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.

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