AUGUSTA – Republican Les Otten said at a State House rally Thursday that he wouldn’t hesitate to shut down state government, use the bully pulpit or cut programs to avoid a tax increase.

Otten, who described himself as the “front runner” in a news release announcing the rally, addressed about 50 people in the Hall of Flags, just steps from the office he hopes to occupy.

Otten’s event was one of many held across the state Thursday as the 11 Democrats and Republicans who are running for governor pushed toward Tuesday’s primaries.

Otten, a businessman who is one of seven Republicans in the race, raised his right hand — as he has in his television commercials — and promised not to raise taxes.

Elsewhere, candidates toured businesses, made get-out-the-vote stops at diners, gave speeches and attended last-minute fundraisers.

The four Democrats — Patrick McGowan, Steve Rowe, Rosa Scarcelli and Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell — met in Lewiston for one last debate, hosted by the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

The final days have taken on added importance with polls showing many voters still undecided. One poll, released Tuesday, said that as many as 60 percent of Democrats and half of Republicans remain unsold on any of the candidates.

That poll, released by Portland-based PanAtlantic SMS Group, indicated Otten leading among Republicans, followed by Waterville Mayor Paul LePage, state Sen. Peter Mills and Steve Abbott.

On Thursday, Mills’ campaign released a poll — which it sponsored — identifying Mills as the leader, followed by Otten, Abbott and LePage.

None of the polling is conclusive, prompting campaigns to bolster their efforts as the elections approach.

As she began Thursday’s news conference, Otten campaign manager Edie Smith told supporters: “Nobody leaves this Hall of Flags unless you are loaded up with T-shirts, lawn signs and brochures to distribute between now and next Tuesday.”

Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye, R-Perry, talked about why he feels Otten is the best of the seven men in the GOP field.

“My wife and I own and operate a small family business,” said Raye, who runs Raye’s Mustard in Eastport. “I know that with Les Otten as governor, Maine’s small-business people will finally have a friend in the Blaine House.” 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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