PORTLAND – Two days after a GOP convention in which party leaders preached unity, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Poliquin took aim at rival Les Otten on Monday with a hard-hitting television advertisement focusing on Otten’s track record running American Skiing Co.

The advertisement funded by Poliquin began airing Monday, targeting Otten’s management of the former Maine-based ski resort company, which grew to national prominence but later foundered under a mountain of debt. The attack ad ends with the tag line, “Les Otten, Less jobs.”

Otten’s campaign decried what it called inaccuracies in the ad, and criticized Poliquin for sponsoring an attack ad after earlier criticizing the tactic.

“We are greatly disappointed with the false, negative tactics carried out by the Poliquin campaign, especially after his statements promising a positive campaign and who said, ‘There is no place for this kind of attack ad in our race,’” Otten’s campaign manager, Edie Smith, said in a statement.

Poliquin made no apologies.

“There’s no such thing as an attack ad when you’re telling the truth,” said campaign spokesman Brian Phillips.

Poliquin’s goal was to tell the full story of American Skiing — not just its success, as Otten promotes on the campaign trail, but its ultimate failure, Phillips said. Running up debt is not the right way to run a business, and it raises questions about Otten’s performance if elected, he said.

The advertisements hit the airwaves after the GOP convention in which all of the seven Republican gubernatorial candidates made nice to each other. There were no fireworks during a Friday night debate featuring Poliquin, Otten and the five others vying for the party’s nomination on June 8.

On Monday, Otten’s campaign said there were several inaccuracies in the campaign ad: American Skiing never filed for bankruptcy, Otten was never “forced out” as CEO, and the company’s removal from the New York Stock Exchange wasn’t because of financial mismanagement, Smith said.

“The biggest falsehood in Poliquin’s negative TV ad is that jobs were lost. Sunday River is thriving. And the jobs are all still there,” she said.

Otten built Sunday River in Newry into the biggest ski area in Maine before taking the company public in the late 1990s. His company grew aggressively but later struggled because of its debt and a couple of rough seasons.

Otten later stepped down as CEO as the company was selling off its resorts. In 2007, after the company relocated to Utah, it sold its final resort and went out of business.

The flap that erupted Monday pits two businessmen with deep pockets. Otten was a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox and owns several other business ventures. Poliquin helped to found the asset management firm Avatar Investors Associates Corp. and has been involved in other business ventures, as well.

The two have deeper war chests than any of the five other GOP candidates, Steve Abbott, William Beardsley, Matt Jacobson, Paul LePage and Peter Mills, according to the latest campaign reports.the campaign ad: American Skiing never filed for bankruptcy, Otten was never “forced out” as CEO, and the company’s removal from the New York Stock Exchange wasn’t because of financial mismanagement, Smith said.

“The biggest falsehood in Poliquin’s negative TV ad is that jobs were lost. Sunday River is thriving. And the jobs are all still there,” she said.

Otten built Sunday River in Newry into the biggest ski area in Maine before taking the company public in the late 1990s. His company grew aggressively but later struggled because of its debt and a couple of rough seasons.

Otten later stepped down as CEO as the company was selling off its resorts. In 2007, after the company relocated to Utah, it sold its final resort and went out of business.

The flap that erupted Monday pits two businessmen with deep pockets. Otten was part-owner of the Boston Red Sox and owns several other business ventures. Poliquin helped to found the asset management firm Avatar Investors Associates Corp. and has been involved in other business ventures, as well.

The two have deeper war chests than any of the five other GOP candidates, Steve Abbott, William Beardsley, Matt Jacobson, Paul LePage and Peter Mills, according to the latest campaign reports.