At least a couple of times a week, both sides in the gay-marriage campaign are sending out emails asking for money.

On Thursday, Protect Marriage Maine stepped up the appeal by claiming that advocates put the question on the ballot this year “because the national media would be distracted with the presidential race.”

“The pro-Gay Marriage groups have raised millions of dollars, and the lack of national media on this important ballot initiative have stunted the fundraising of groups that are fighting to Protect Traditional Marriage,” the email reads.

It then goes on to warn that if gay-marriage advocates win in Maine this year, “they will have the momentum and funds to pass Gay Marriage Amendments in more than 30 other states in the next two years!”

Officially, gay-marriage advocates have said they chose 2012 for a number of reasons, including that they hope a presidential year will mean more young, progressive voters will head to the polls. They’ve also spent nearly three years talking to voters about the issue and believe they have changed enough minds to turn around the 53 percent to 47 percent rejection of gay marriage from 2009.

As an aside, the letter from Protect Marriage Maine is signed “Matt Raymond,” although a quick call to campaign headquarters confirmed that as a typo. The letter is from campaign Director Matt Hutson.

DECOSTER, ALLIES BACK LEGISLATORS WHO REDUCED LABOR PROTECTIONS

Many of you may recall last year’s fight over a special bill to reduce labor protections for workers at Austin “Jack “DeCoster’s notorious egg farms, home to serial violations of labor, environmental, health and worker safety laws of frankly jaw dropping magnitude.

The bill — sponsored by Rep. Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon Falls, and backed by Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, — was approved in commitee, but struck down after Sen. Chris Rector, R-Thomaston, and other lawmakers learned they had been deceived about the company’s recent track record.

Decoster subsequently sold his holdings to Land O’ Lakes subsidiary Moark LLC, and last session the Legislature passed the sought-after labor restrictions on the egg farm’s behalf.

Now the legislators involved appear to be reaping their rewards.

DeCoster has donated $100 each to Timberlake and Crafts’ re-election efforts. His longtime farm manager Doucas Goranites — foster brother and genetic first cousin of U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine — has given Timberlake the maximum allowed donation of $350.

For its part, Land O’ Lakes has given both lawmakers — and another Turner-area legislator, Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls — the maximum $350 each through Moark LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary based in Fontana, Calif.

Two of Moark’s employees, General Manager Blair Hagy and DeCoster Farms official Laurin Hagy, also gave $350 apiece to Crafts. Blair also gave Timberlake and Mason $350 apiece. Altogether, egg interests have added up to what amounts to significant money in legislative races, which are often won with a campaign chest of just a few thousand dollars.

In the world of money and politics, it’s rare one finds a clear quid pro quo, but every once in a while …

GOP KEEPS BASHING KING, BUT HE’S NOT RATTLED

Charlie Summers’ U.S. Senate campaign continues to tout its internal poll numbers showing that critical ads have cut into Angus King’s lead.

One letter to the Republican nominee’s supporters last week even said “King’s poll numbers are tanking (and) his campaign has gone into crisis mode.”

King, meanwhile, didn’t sound too nervous when asked about the effect of the TV ad campaign against him.

“Our belief is it didn’t work,” the independent former governor said.

King’s numbers dipped immediately after the ad ran, he said, but they bounced back.

There haven’t been any independent polls to back up either claim. But the tea leaves suggest the King campaign isn’t too worried, yet.

While Republicans are sending out nearly daily news releases bashing King, the King campaign has so far not retaliated with any criticism of his opponents.

King also has not spent any money on TV ads of his own to rebut the attacks.

And, finally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has so far not followed up on its $400,000 TV campaign with any new anti-King ads. It has spent much more in other battleground states.

A different anti-King TV ad that is airing now was paid for by Maine Freedom, which spent $137,500, according to disclosure filings.

King said he expects more ads targeting him simply because the outside groups have so much money to spend. Meanwhile, he joked, he has already stimulated the Maine economy without buying any TV ads of his own.

“They should build a statue of me in the lobby at Channel 6,” he said.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be reached at 791-6324 or at: jrichardson@pressherald.com

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Susan Cover can be reached at 621-5643 or at: scover@mainetoday.com

Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at: cwoodard@mainetoday.com