PORTLAND — A Republican group is airing a television ad that it hopes will boost Republican Charlie Summers’ bid for the U.S. Senate.
However, the ad doesn’t feature Summers. It promotes Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill.
Maine Freedom, a Washington D.C.-based group, has purchased air time in Maine’s television markets, according to public filings at several local stations. The ads, designed to siphon progressive support from independent candidate Angus King, dub Dill as the real Democrat in the race.
The ad began airing Friday. It was purchased by the group Maine Freedom, which was established on Aug. 16, according to documents with the Federal Elections Commission. Its treasurer is Michael Adams, the general counsel for the Republican Governors Association.
Adams did not return a phone call seeking comment. However, he forwarded a copy of the ad to the Portland Press Herald.
The ad is designed to boost Dill. Republican pundits have acknowledged that Summers, polling second to King, needs a strong performance from Dill to close the gap. The theory is drawn from the 2010 governors race when Paul LePage squeezed out the victory after independent Eliot Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell divided Democrats and independents.
The Dill campaign said it was not notified about the ad and had no comment on its content. “We are focusing on the Dill for U.S. Senate campaign and on the issues of concern to Maine people,” said campaign spokesman Bob Mentzinger.
King said in a statement that the ad buy was “another example of out-of-state interests trying to tell Mainers how to vote.” He noted that the treasurer of the PAC was from Washington, D.C., and that the PAC is registered there.
“I am all about promoting bipartisanship but Republicans buying television campaign ads for Democrats might be taking it a little too far,” King said.
Lance Dutson, the campaign manager for Charlie Summers, said he was not involved in the ad and unaware that it was hitting the airwaves. He said groups like Maine Freedom had a right to do what they wanted, but that his campaign was focused on other issues.
Dutson acknowledged that Summers would benefit from a strong showing by Dill.
“Certainly those with street knowledge of this race recognize that we’re better off with Dill coming in at 20 percent than 9 percent,” Dutson said. “But we’re not paying much attention to that. We’re focusing on the issues that Charlie feels most passionate about.”
The ad buy at WSCH 6, the Portland NBC affiliate, totaled $35,780. It was $14,280 at WGME 13, the CBS affiliate. The ad will begin Friday and run until further notice, according to public filings at both stations. The filings show that Maine Freedom also purchased air time with WMTW 8, the ABC affiliate, and WPFO, the FOX affiliate.
The ad is running at a variety of times, including some prime time slots.