Groups hoping to maintain the tax reform law enacted by the Legislature outspent the groups that successfully campaigned for its repeal.

The controversial measure would have lowered the state income tax for most Mainers from 8.5 percent to 6.5 percent by expanding the 5 percent state sales tax to previously untaxed items and by increasing the meals and lodging tax, among other things.

The No Higher Taxes for Maine political action committee spent about $580,000 in failed efforts to maintain the law, according to state records.

A PAC formed by the Maine Realtors Association spent about $325,000 on the campaign to repeal the law. As previously reported, the National Association of Realtors chipped in $100,000 to the cause. The Maine chapter contributed about $243,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. Other PACs working to repeal the law spent an additional $52,000.

OTTEN BIGGEST SPENDER

He was the champ even before his final report was in, but now it’s official.

Les Otten, a Greenwood Republican who sought his party’s gubernatorial nomination, vastly outspent every other candidate.

He spent about $2.75 million throughout his campaign, according to a report filed with the state ethics commission. About $2.6 million was loaned to the campaign by the candidate.

SCONTRAS TO ‘RUN THE DISTRICT’

Dean Scontras, the Republican candidate in the 1st Congressional District, has pledged to run 57 miles through the southern part of the district, according to his campaign.

He’ll run about 7 miles a day, starting at the Memorial Bridge in Kittery and ending in Portland’s Monument Square.

“I wanted to stay in shape,” he said in a statement. “Federal spending needs to shape up too, so I decided to combine the efforts and get people talking about ‘running down the debt.’“

His campaign says he’ll likely run the northern part of the district in September.

Scontras is challenging U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat.

FAVORABLES, UNFAVORABLES

The Rasmussen Reports poll released last week that showed Republican Paul LePage with 39 percent support; Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, a Democrat, with 31 percent; and independent Eliot Cutler with 15 percent, also asked people how strongly they felt about the candidates.

LePage is viewed “very favorably” by 26 percent of Maine voters, and “very unfavorably” by 9 percent. For Mitchell, it’s 20 percent who view her “very favorably” and 18 percent “very unfavorably.” Cutler got 9 percent in both categories.

NUMBERS FOR BALDACCI

The same poll also asked the same 500 likely voters what they thought of Gov. John Baldacci, the Democratic governor whose eight years in office ends in January. The survey showed 37 percent approval and 60 percent disapproval.

DUNLAP LEADS NATIONAL GROUP

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap was named president of the National Association of Secretaries of State this week at the group’s summer meeting in Rhode Island.

The promotion is not a surprise: Dunlap has been on the group’s executive board since 2006 and most recently served as president-elect.

Dunlap, a former Democratic lawmaker, was chosen by the Legislature to serve as secretary of state in 2004, and was reappointed in 2006 and 2008. He’s eligible to serve two more years if reappointed by lawmakers in December.

TRAHAN NAMED TO ATV PANEL

Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, has been appointed by the Senate president to serve on the governor’s ATV Stop Work Group, according to a recent news release.

The 16-member group was created to make legislative recommendations to address constitutional and privacy concerns regarding law enforcement’s right to stop ATV riders on private property.

“This is an important issue that the Legislature has struggled with for the past two sessions,” Trahan said in a statement. “Our responsibility will be to foster consensus and try to bring the two sides together for a workable solution.”

 

On Maine Politics is written by MaineToday Media State House Bureau correspondents Susan M. Cover and Rebekah Metzler.