Maine Democrats parlay public financing to big campaign cash advantage

Good morning from Augusta. Democrats are outspending Republicans by a historic margin in legislative races in 2018 as they seek to win control of both chambers for the first time in six years — though plenty of battlegrounds remain, particularly in the Maine Senate.

Legislative races are often overshadowed and they have been particularly this year because of the intense national interest in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District and the open-seat governor’s race. But the makeup of the Legislature will set the tenor for the next governor’s administration.

In the Senate, Republicans hold the slimmest possible 18-17 majority. Democrats have only a plurality in the House, but they’re in control of the lower chamber 73-70 over Republicans with seven other members who generally lean Democrats’ way as a group.

Republicans are used to being outspent in legislative races, but this year is different. In the last five legislative cycles from 2008 to 2016, Democrats have generally used an edge in outside money to outspend Republicans in legislative races. In 2018, the candidates are also spending more and management of the taxpayer-funded Clean Election program is a major reason why.

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