Candidates for Senate District 25 on Friday glossed over a declaration by a Washington, D.C.-based Democratic group that called the race one of the key battlegrounds in the country and perhaps the most nationally watched state-level legislative race in the U.S.

“The consensus is that it’s good news, but I try not to focus on the national attention,” said Colleen M. Lachowicz, a Democrat running for the seat against incumbent Sen. Thomas H. Martin.

“The only people who will determine the outcome of this election are the people in my district, and I’m committed to talking to as many of them as possible before Election Day.”

Martin said that as a freshman legislator he does not know what makes any district a key battleground.

He has held the seat representing Waterville, Winslow, Albion, Benton, Clinton, Detroit, Pittsfield and Unity Township for two years.

“I’m from a very Democratic district, but I think the citizens have seen failed policies, one right after another, and wanted to see a fresh perspective — a view from a local person with a small business that does a lot for the community and is involved in many aspects of the community.”

He said he has not heard any outcry against him for decisions he has made as a senator.

“They’re tough decisions,” he said.

After the Maine Republican Party a week ago launched a website and mailed fliers criticizing Lachowicz for online gaming and writing negative comments in a blog about Gov. Paul LePage and others, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee on Thursday labeled the District 25 race one of 60 races in 23 states that are considered key battlegrounds.

The committee came to that determination by consulting with state party leaders, grassroots activists and Democratic leadership.

Martin said he believes Democrats have wanted to take the Senate District 25 seat for some time and that labeling it a key battleground race might have something to do with that.

“I’m a freshman legislator, but I’m going to guess that any seat that they used to have, especially for this long a time, they want back,” he said.

Lachowicz said the attack on her character for comments she made as part of an online fantasy game is one of the silliest things she has ever seen in politics.

Martin said he had nothing to do with the attack by the Maine Republican Party and did not know the GOP was sending out the fliers until after the fact.

“I spoke out against negative attack ads the first time I ran,” Martin said this week. “It is unfortunate; I don’t condone it, that’s for sure.”

But he added that he does not think Republicans were attacking her for gaming, but for negative comments she wrote online about LePage and others.

“World of Warcraft” is an online role-playing game in which players take on personas that engage in battle with other characters.

Lachowicz said some of the comments were years old and taken out of context.

She calls the attack an attempt by the Republican Party to distract from its record.

But Martin said it’s a stretch to think Republicans are attacking Lachowicz only for online gaming.

“I think it’s attacking her for what she said,” he said.

National media outlets including CNN, the Colbert Report, Politico and Comedy Central have picked up stories about the race.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

acalder@centralmaine.com