Boosted by national Republican Party leaders, state Rep. Austin Theriault’s congressional bid in Maine’s hotly contested 2nd District took a big fundraising lead during the first quarter of the year over his sole GOP rival.

Jared Golden, left, Mike Soboleski, center, and Austin Theriault are all running for Maine’s 2nd District House seat. Submitted photos

Theriault, a former NASCAR driver from Fort Kent, hauled in $655,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, a period covered by a required Federal Election Commission filing.

His opponent in June’s Republican primary, state Rep. Mike Soboleski of Phillips, raised $50,000.

Both men trail the fundraising efforts of three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat, who raised $1 million in the first quarter and had $2.2 million in his campaign coffers at the end of the filing period.

Theriault had $831,000 in his treasury on March 31 while Soboleski had $48,000.

Soboleski said that while raising cash is important for a campaign, “money doesn’t vote. People do.”


He said that “whoever wins the primary, the money will be there” for the general election in November.

Because Golden holds one of the most Republican-friendly districts represented by a Democrat, Republicans have made clear they intend to make a serious effort to oust him. Many millions of dollars will likely pour into Maine for advertising and organizing on both sides of the aisle as Golden seeks to hang on to the seat.

Theriault said in a radio interview that his fundraising has been “a Mainer-driven effort,” with two-thirds of his donors and more than half the money collected coming from people in Maine.

But Theriault also pulled in more than $105,000 from politicians around the country, including political action and campaign committees run by U.S. House leaders. He also has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee of his party this year.

A Public Opinion Strategies Poll released by Theriault this week found that Theriault leads among Maine Republicans who have heard of both candidates, with nearly triple the support of Soboleski. Overall, 30% said they backed Theriault and 7% sided with Soboleski, with the rest undecided.

On the campaign trail, though, Theriault isn’t acting like a candidate who’s certain of winning the primary.


Last week, for instance, he blasted Soboleski on social media over a “fake poll” that was “falsely attacking me and telling flat-out lies.”

Soboleski, who said he had nothing to do with the poll, said Theriault has a habit of throwing “a temper tantrum” when “things don’t go exactly his way or he doesn’t get his own way.”

In the U.S. Senate race, where two-term U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, is seeking reelection, incumbency also has its advantages.

King, first elected in 2012, raised $968,000 in the first quarter. He has $2.5 million in his campaign treasury.

Republican hopeful Demi Kouzounas, a former state GOP chair, had $170,000 at the end of the fundraising quarter after raising $119,000 since January. She loaned her campaign another $54,000.

Democrat David Costello of Brunswick had $62,000 in his campaign coffers at the end of March, but nearly all of it came from a $50,000 personal loan from the candidate.

In the 1st District congressional race, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, had $387,000 in her campaign treasury at the end of March.

Her Republican challenger, Andrew Piantidosi, had $28,000 in his coffers at the end of the quarter.

The Republican congressional primary will take place June 11. The general election is Nov. 5.

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