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PORTLAND — Eleven candidates for governor were pausing only to vote Tuesday as they continued their final campaign push even as Maine residents were deciding which Democratic and Republican hopefuls will face each other in November.

 

The wide-open race defied predictions even from seasoned observers, and polls showed at least half of voters were undecided just days before the election.

 

“Nobody has caught fire. Do you see any enthusiasm around the state? For anybody?” said Sandy Maisel, a Colby College political science professor.

 

Maine residents also were deciding whether to repeal a planned tax overhaul that would lower the top income tax rate from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent while broadening the 5 percent sales tax to dozens of purchases that are now exempt, such as car repairs and movie tickets, and raising the food and lodging tax from 7 percent to 8.5 percent.

 

In Portland on Tuesday, Dan Porter said the tax referendum brought him to the polls. He said it made sense to him to lower income taxes while expanding the sales tax base to new goods and services.

 

“The bill that was passed, while imperfect, was a good step in the right direction,” he said. “At the end of the day it certainly makes more sense to me to increase the level of taxes that are paid by tourists and visitors to the state.”

 

Linda Cooledge said she voted against the tax reform because she didn’t want to see taxes expanded to new goods and services.

 

“Once they’ve got their hands in our pocket for these little taxes on everything, now they’ve got the go-ahead to add to it every year. Once the government and the state of Maine has their hand in your pocket, they keep dipping further and further,” she said.

 

Also up for a vote were four ballot questions that called for a total of $108 million in borrowing to fund public works projects ranging from highways to wind-power development.

 

All told, seven Republicans and four Democrats were vying their parties’ nominations for governor.

 

The Republicans are former ski executive Les Otten; businessman Bruce Poliquin; former Husson University President Bill Beardsley; business development executive Matt Jacobson; Waterville Mayor Paul LePage; state Sen. Peter Mills; and Steve Abbott, former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

 

A big question that emerged after a tea party-inspired takeover of the GOP platform at the state convention last month in Portland was how deep the movement runs in Maine. In the end, however, the tea party did not endorse a candidate for the primary season.

 

Vying for the Democratic nomination were three public officials: Senate President Libby Mitchell; former Attorney General Steve Rowe; and former Conservation Commissioner Pat McGowan, as well as a political outsider, businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli.

 

With so many undecided voters, the gubernatorial candidates were obliged to keep campaigning, and most of the 11 were expected to keep up hectic schedules leading right up until the polls close at 8 p.m.

 

Behind the scenes, the campaigns worked to get out the vote in races that could be decided by thin margins. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said voters are having a hard time making up their minds, and a turnout of 20 percent would be on the high side.