AUGUSTA – Clean election matching funds — which go to Democrat Libby Mitchell and most legislative candidates — will continue to be paid despite a court challenge.

A federal judge last week denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have put a stop to the funds.

A request for a preliminary injunction is still pending, and the decisions can be appealed by the plaintiffs, which include Rep. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, former state Rep. Harold Clough, R-Scarborough, and the Respect Maine political action committee.

Supporters of the system, and of Mitchell, had worried that a restraining order would leave her seriously short of cash with just weeks to go until the Nov. 2 election. She has already received $600,000 in state money for the campaign and will be eligible to spend an additional $600,000 in matching funds once her opponents spend more than the initial disbursement.

So far, she’s been authorized to spend $316,000 in matching funds, according to the state ethics commission.

How much her ballot opponents — Republican Paul LePage and independents Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott — have in the bank will become clear late Tuesday as campaigns file their 42-day pre-election reports with the state.

Mitchell is the only gubernatorial candidate using public money. The rest will have to report how much money they’ve raised — or donated to themselves — and who’s giving it to them.

THREE PLEDGE ‘CIVIL DISCOURSE’

The Maine Council of Churches announced Friday that the three independent gubernatorial candidates — Cutler, Moody and Scott — have signed a “Covenant for Civil Discourse.”

The candidates had to promise six things, including that they will “attempt to understand others’ points of view,” that they will “refrain from personal attacks” and that they will not “characterize my opponents as evil.”

Mitchell and LePage did not respond to the request to take the pledge, according to the council.

FORUMS, DEBATE THIS WEEK

It’s going to be a busy time on for the campaigns this week, with numerous debates and forums scheduled.

There’s a forum in Waterville on elder issues, one in Bangor on smart growth, one in Augusta on disability rights, and one in Portland on energy and the environment.

Then, on Saturday, the first live televised debate of the fall campaign will be sponsored by MaineToday Media and WGME-TV 13. It’s at Jewett Hall on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta. Tune to WGME at 8 p.m.

PINGREE WINS MAGAZINE AWARD

The October issue of Marie Claire named House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, as a winner of one of its “Women on Top” awards.

The magazine honored “outrageously talented 20- and 30-something women,” including a playwright, lawyer, feminist organizer and military officer. It described Pingree as “the next Nancy Pelosi.”

In a short write-up, she is quoted as saying that her legislative career has ended because of term limits, but that she may run again, “maybe for Maine’s governorship.”

And if she does run for governor, those of us in the media will be sure to hang on to the diva shot they took of Pingree standing on a roof with “the next Mark Zuckerberg” and “the next Gloria Steinem.”

The best part? Her shoes.

“I’m not much for high heels, especially snakeskin-print, lace-up, 4-inch heels,” she said. “I don’t have a future in fashion. I’ll stick to politics.”

Pingree, 33, said at least the other women in the group had to wear “equally ridiculous outfits. I was hoping no one in Maine would ever see these photos.”

HERITAGE CEO HONORED

Tarren Bragdon, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, was honored last week with the State Policy Network’s Roe Award in Cleveland.

The award is for “outstanding leadership in America’s free market movement.”

“Our movement is growing, especially in Maine, and I am fortunate to be a part of such historic times,” Bragdon said in a written statement.

CLINTON TO LEAD RALLY

The Mitchell for Governor campaign sent out the official details of former President Clinton’s visit to Maine.

He’ll lead a rally at the Hutchinson Union Building on the campus of Southern Maine Community College. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

The event is free, but space is limited. To sign up, reserve tickets at www.mainedems.org/clinton.

CANDIDATES AGREE TO DEBATE

“Wildfire,” a fish-and-wildlife show hosted by George Smith and Harry Vanderweide, has gotten commitments from the five gubernatorial candidates who will be on the ballot to participate in a debate on hunting, fishing and other outdoor issues.

The show, to be taped Oct. 1, will air on Time Warner Cable several times during the third week of October, Smith said.

He described the show’s format as “free-wheeling conversation, uninterrupted by advertisements, and totally unscripted.”

LABOR ISSUES ON AGENDA

Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry will lead a discussion of statewide labor issues at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Wiscasset’s 911 building, 34 Bath Road.

Democratic legislative candidates and local union workers from Bath Iron Works are expected to attend.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

[email protected]

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

[email protected]