Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill blasted the latest round of third-party ads poised to hit local television stations last week.

Her statement follows news that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has purchased $600,000 worth of ad time in local markets. The NRSC will reportedly use the ads to attack independent candidate Angus King while also promoting Dill’s progressive credentials.

The latter effort is designed to divide potential King and Dill voters and increase Republican Charlie Summers’ chances for victory.

Dill said such ads represent “the most deceptive political advertising to ever hit our state.”

“The ads continue the deception we’ve seen from the national Republican Party Super PACs,” she said. “The ads pit me against Angus King in the U.S. Senate race, hoping that the only candidate left standing will be Charlie Summers.”

She added that the “cynical ads” are robbing her of her voice.

“The NRSC does not speak for me, it cannot muzzle my free speech and it does not speak for the Maine voters,” she said, adding, “Let’s tell these charlatans that they cannot ‘purchase’ the U.S. Senate election in Maine.”

NICHI FARNHAM AD COUNTERS DEMOCRAT’S SLAM

State Sen. Nichi Farnham, R-Bangor, who was targeted in August by the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, has released a Web ad.

The ad offers a positive look at Farnham, who was elected to District 32 in 2010, and highlights her preferred method of campaigning: Running.

The spot contrasts with the “Rubber Stamp” ad that hit Farnham and four other Republican senators for enabling Gov. Paul LePage’s “extreme” policy agenda.

That Farnham deployed the ad underscores the belief among Democratic and Republican operatives that District 32 is a battleground seat. Farnham is facing Democrat Geoff Gratwick, a Bangor city councilor who is well-known in the area.

COURTNEY TO RELEASE FIRST TV AD

Jon Courtney, the Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District, announced last week that he’s releasing his first television ad.

Keith Herrick, Courtney’s campaign manager, said the initial buy totals $25,000. Recent disclosure forms at Time Warner Cable show the Courtney campaign recently made a $22,500 buy to run the ad during several cable television shows.

Ad time on cable is significantly cheaper than network stations.

Courtney has raised $37,299 and spent $17,939 of it, according to the most recent campaign finance filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

“The goal is to increase his name recognition in a positive way,” Herrick said. “Jon has been traveling the district everyday and has seen that his name ID is growing quickly.”

The ad highlights Courtney’s achievements as a state senator. Courtney is the current majority leader in the state Senate.

He’s taking on U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District. Most recent polls show Pingree with a significant lead. To this point, Pingree’s campaign activity has also been limited.

Pingree is married to financier S. Donald Sussman, the majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram and other MaineToday Media newspapers.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BACKERS BOOK AIR TIME

Supporters of same-sex marriage have booked ad time totaling $917,142 in the southern Maine television market, and opponents have scheduled nearly $200,000 worth, a check with the television stations shows.

With Labor Day firmly behind us, the airwaves will soon feature more ads meant to persuade voters on the most contentious issue on the Nov. 6 ballot — whether to allow the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Weeks ago, gay-marriage supporters launched ads showing parents talking about their support for gay marriage because they want their adult children to enjoy the same relationship recognition as other couples. Last week, advocates released a third spot that emphasizes that churches will not be required to perform same-sex marriages even if voters approve the ballot measure in November.

Ads played a key role three years ago when voters rejected gay marriage by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent. Opponents emphasized their concern that gay marriage would be discussed in schools and, therefore, harm children. They were based on the successful 2008 California campaign that defined marriage as between a man and a woman in the state constitution.

AGRICULTURE OFFICIAL TO SPEAK AT FAIR

The annual celebration of Maine’s robust organic farming community has landed the Obama administration’s No. 2 agriculture official as a speaker.

Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will visit Maine later this month to speak at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity. Her speech is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 23. The following day, Merrigan is expected to visit Portland-area schools to see how they incorporate school-run gardens into the curriculum and their cafeteria fare.

As deputy secretary, Merrigan oversees day-to-day operations at the USDA as well as the agency’s $149 billion budget process.

Merrigan helped the USDA develop the federal government’s labeling rules and standards for organic foods.

Merrigan is expected to visit Portland schools involved in a pilot project in which produce grown in a school garden is used in the cafeteria, according to the office of Pingree, the 1st District congresswoman, who invited Merrigan to Maine. Pingree is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.