Top Republicans say Raye is letting race for Congress ‘slip away’

BDN photo by Michael York.

BDN photo by Michael York.

For many insiders and analysts, Kevin Raye’s December finance report was a bit of a surprise. After a strong first month back in September where he raised almost $7,000 a day ($92,000 in 13 days), Raye’s total over the next 90 days was only $102,000 ($1,140 a day).

But that surprise was nothing compared to the gasps heard in political circles when his latest report was released. In that report, covering Jan. 1 through March 31, Raye raised less than he had in the first 13 for an abysmal $82,000. Among the four candidates running, two who have never run for anything bigger than the state Senate, he actually came in 20 percent behind his closest competitor.

I suppose none of this would be that big a deal if Raye hadn’t run twice before, hadn’t been president of the Maine Senate and didn’t have polling showing him with a 24-point lead back in November. But for someone of his stature, these numbers flag that something is seriously wrong.

But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Raye’s fellow Republicans.

I spoke to two Maine Republicans at the top levels of governing and campaigning in Maine. Both asked for anonymity in discussing the race (which I agreed to) and are publicly neutral due to their roles within the party. Both are simply focused on ensuring Republicans put forth the best efforts to win every seat in Maine.

To put it mildly, they were very concerned that the presumptive nominee was blowing Republicans’ best chance of winning the 2nd District seat (even in Republican circles, it is understood that former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin has a slim chance of winning a general election in Maine).

“Here is a guy [Raye] who has wanted to be the 2nd District congressman since he was 18 years old. He would rather serve in that seat than be president of the United States. And yet he is just letting it slip away,” said the first Republican.

“Two things are happening. He oversold his last campaign by convincing everyone he was going to win. But then he lost by 16 points. Second, he simply doesn’t seem to have the energy for the race. No enthusiasm.

“Raye is acting with a sense of entitlement. Like this is his race. His turn. Honestly, that does not go over well in Republican circles,” the Republican said.

The second Republican was equally blunt: “For someone who has made a seat in Congress his life’s goal, he sure seems to be taking a lot for granted. If you know you’re going to be outspent, you have to try and counter with enthusiasm and grassroots action. So far, he’s got neither.

“Bruce had a mob scene [at the Republican convention]. Very reminiscent of the 2010 LePage convention mob. Raye had a small, very pathetic group. It looked really bad. Made one Raye supporter privately express concern [to me].”

The first Republican summed it up this way: “Neither of the Democrats deserves the chance to run against Poliquin. His liabilities are well-known and he will never sell to a general election electorate. If we want to pick this seat up, Raye needs to get off his ass and start working. But it may actually be too late.”

We Democrats can only hope these Republicans are correct.

Posted by Ethan Strimling