Mainers watching their favorite fall television programming will also get a heavy dose of campaign advertising until Election Day on Nov. 2, according to independent expenditure reports filed over the last week.

Spending this close to the election for and against candidates has to be reported within 24 hours of being spent, according to Maine campaign laws.

More than $1 million has recently been spent on advertising, mostly television.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage has seen the most spending, both for and against.

Groups such as the Maine Republican Party and the Republican Governors Association recently spent about $191,000 to support his candidacy, while Maine Women Vote, the Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund and the Maine Democratic Party have spent about $397,000 against him.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler came in second for money spent for and against, something his campaign said reflects his recent rise in the polls.

The Maine Democratic Party, the Maine Republican Party, the Republican Governors Association and the union-funded Jobs, Justice and the Environment PAC have spent about $346,000 opposing Cutler. The Campaign for Maine PAC, funded by many Maine lobbyists, has spent $86,000 supporting him.

Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell received about $18,000 in support from the Maine Women Vote PAC while the Maine Republican Party and the Republican Governors Association have spent about $192,000 opposing her candidacy.

ABSENTEE VOTING

As of Friday afternoon, about 87,500 absentee ballots had been requested from the Maine Secretary of State’s office.

About 32,000, or 36 percent, of the ballots were requested by registered Democrats; about 30,000, or 34.5 percent, by Republicans and about 24,000, or 27 percent, had been requested by voters not enrolled in a political party.

Around this time before the 2008 election, Maine Democrats had requested about 42 percent of all absentee ballots, compared with 29 percent for Republicans and about 27 percent for unenrolled voters.

CUTLER AS ‘THE PRETTY GIRL’?

During a meeting with the MaineToday Media endorsement board, Mitchell was asked why polls have showed a large undecided contingent.

She said she and LePage have faced months of scrutiny because they had to win their party primaries. Cutler, as an independent, didn’t have to go through that process.

“He’s the pretty girl who’s moved to town that everybody wants to take out on a date because they want to get to know him better,” she said. “I don’t mean to be flip about it, but that’s where we are. We are all staggering from the body blows.”

PROJECT VOTE SMART INFO

Just one of the four candidates for Congress — Republican Jason Levesque — took the 2010 Political Courage Test put out by Project Vote Smart, the group announced.

Levesque, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the state’s 2nd District, scored a 92 percent. The courage test asks candidates to commit to telling citizens where they stand on issues, and quizzes them on key issues.

Project Vote Smart was founded by national leaders such as Jimmy Carter and Newt Gingrich, and it tracks the voting records, backgrounds and issue positions of more than 40,000 candidates and elected officials.

DREADED QUESTION

At an education forum last week, the candidates were asked who they would vote for if they could not vote for themselves.

Kevin Scott: “I’d write in my wife, Susan Merrow.”

Paul LePage: “I would stay home.”

Shawn Moody: “I’d check all four. We’re going to need it.”

Libby Mitchell: “I don’t have a second choice.”

Eliot Cutler: “I think I’d go fishing.”

FARM BUREAU ELECTION ISSUE

The Maine Farm Bureau recently posted a special election issue that highlights responses to questions from 84 legislative candidates.

The questions were written by the bureau, Maine Harness Horsemen Association, Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs, Maine Horse Council, Ornamental Horticulture Council and the Maine Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association.

You can find the information at www.mainefarmbureau.com/media/index.php.

FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL INFO

The Family Research Council, Maine Jeremiah Project, and Maine Right to Life have compiled information to tell voters where legislative candidates stand on gay marriage.

There’s also a link to Maine Right to Life for a voter guide concerning the candidates’ stand on sanctity of life.

The site is www.mainefamilypolicycouncil.com.

BAILEY NEWS CONFERENCE

Samme Bailey, an independent from Gorham who is one of five write-in candidates, held a news conference last week in Lewiston to kick off a campaign tour leading up to the Nov. 2 election.

Others who are official write-ins: Edwin Braley, independent of Portland; Beverly Cooper-Pete, independent of Standish; John Jenkins, independent of Auburn, and J. Martin Vachon, unenrolled of Mariaville.

ARE YOU ON THE LIST?

Cutler has mentioned he keeps a list on his BlackBerry of people he would potentially hire for government jobs if he is elected.

In addition to saying he has no “cronies” because he’s not a member of any political party, Cutler said he’s had the advantage of spending 16 months on the road meeting people.

“I started keeping on my BlackBerry something I called the short list, but now it’s a very long list,” he said at a recent forum. “It’s a list of names of people from across the state of Maine who have impressed me with their talent, their commitment, who want to come in and help us fix Maine government.”

FAVORITE BOOKS?

In her endorsement interview last week, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, spoke of finding common ground with fellow members of Congress who have opposing political views. One of them, Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), invited her to a prayer breakfast where newcomers are asked to talk about their hometowns.

Pingree spoke of small-town life and potluck suppers and looking out for your neighbors on the island of North Haven. Foxx, who often butts heads with Pingree on the Rules Committee, suggested they have a book club, and Pingree said every suggested title has been wonderful.

Her favorite? “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

“It’s almost always about a small town or something rural,” said Pingree, who knocked on the wooden table and said if she’s lucky enough to be re-elected, “I can’t wait to see if Virginia has another good book for me.”

When Pingree’s opponent, Republican Dean Scontras of Eliot, was asked for a suggested book from his nightstand, he offered the historical tome “1776″ by David McCullough.

Pingree said sound bites on Fox News or MSNBC may seem like there’s a near fistfight going on in the halls of Congress, but her experience both in Washington and Augusta is that “you divide up on all kinds of issues based on, not Republicans and Democrats, but on something you deeply care about and you need to build a coalition.”

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Rebekah Metzler and Staff Writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: scover@centralmaine.com.