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The strange sensation in Maine this morning wasn't the reversal of the earth's magnetic field, but something less predictable: A tremor in Maine's electoral landscape, as the 4thQ fundraising report from the Bellows for Senate campaign hit the press, raising eyebrows from Kittery to Eastport.

Shenna Bellows, the Democratic candidate attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, has only been fundraising for a few months, but her campaign will soon be touting more than $332,000 in donations.
The total is only one reason Maine Democrats are excited about this news. The details of the fundraising results are as tasty as this orange croissant…..

Just how important is the grassroots for this campaign? Here's Maine political reporter Steve Mistler:

According to the Bellows campaign, 81.7 percent of the 1,771 contributions were $100 or less, while over 80 percent of her donations came from Mainers.

“Our fundraising represents our values," she said in a statement. "The majority of our contributors are Mainers giving $100 or less. One of the biggest threats to our democracy is big money in politics, so it is refreshing to see that grassroots giving can triumph over special interests from out-of-state.”

She added, “That is what a US Senate campaign should look like: local, grassroots-funded and representative of the entire state.”

The statement is also a jab at Collins, whose war chest is relatively split between individual donations (47 percent) and giving by political action committees (46 percent). Among the $1.5 million from individuals giving to Collins, $77,000 came from small dollar donors, who are defined as people giving no more than $200 during an election cycle.

(A little more on the math there….according to Open Secrets, that $77K from small donors represents only 2% of Collins' fundraising.)

For some perspective on these numbers, the $332,000 Bellows has raised since her campaign launched on Oct. 23 is nearly twice what former U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill raised in the entire 2012 cycle. It is more than the two Democratic contenders for Maine's CD2 seat have raised in total.

It is, in Maine terms, a wicked lot of money.

And where it comes from is important too:

Additionally, Bellows’ financial support is strongly rooted in the State of Maine. 80.4% of the money raised by Bellows from individual contributors came from Maine citizens, highlighting Bellows’ widespread appeal across the state. Bellows is pursuing contributions from all 504 cities and towns in Maine. She has obtained contributions from 337 towns in all 16 counties. In eight counties, Bellows has received support from every town.
Mistler sums it up:
Small-dollar donations matter to campaigns because they are sometimes viewed as an enthusiasm metric. That's not to say that Bellows won't need PAC money or dollars from big-time donors. She probably will. But small dollar donations -- and enthusiasm -- can help draw interest from big spenders if the candidate can show sustained small dollar giving.
"Sustained" is the key- for fundraising, for volunteer support, and for netroots visibility. It's going to be a challenging campaign, and an exciting one. Find out more at the Bellows for Senate website, where you can donate, volunteer, and sign up to follow Shenna on Facebook and Twitter. Join us in bringing a true progressive from Maine to the U.S. Senate!

Originally posted to Illegitimi non carborundum on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 07:47 AM PST.

Also republished by BellowsforSenate.

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