March 10, 2010

Otten's online output oddly like Obama's, opponents observe


— By . COVER

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The first flap of the 2010 gubernatorial race surfaced Wednesday when the Maine Democratic Party accused Republican Les Otten of ''blatant plagiarism'' on his Web site.

The Democrats claim that Otten's site,, is way too similar to the campaign site used by President Obama.

Otten, former owner of Sunday River ski resort and a former vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox, announced this week that he is forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for governor.

The Democrats say Otten's campaign site is ''nearly an exact copy of the Obama Web site.''

''Otten and Obama share the initial O in common, but that's where the similarity ends,'' said Arden Manning, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party. ''The truth is, Barack Obama was not elected president because he had a snazzy graphic and well-designed Web site.''

Edie Smith, campaign manager for Otten's exploratory committee, said they didn't copy the Obama site, and that they used the ''O'' theme because, well, that's the first letter of Otten's last name.

''We are very proud of our Web site, which was built from scratch, from the ground up, by a locally owned company -- INsyt of Farmington, Maine,'' Smith wrote in a response. ''This is the initial Web site of the Les Otten exploratory campaign and we anticipate that additional information will be added as Les travels throughout the state listening to the people of Maine.''

The Web sites are similar, with both Obama and Otten using a round graphic as a campaign logo. Certain features are placed in the same area, something Smith said is an indication that the designers used a template that highlights popular parts of a site.

The sites differ considerably in content, with Obama, a Democrat, posting information about health care, and Otten, a Republican, using his site as a platform to introduce himself to Maine voters. Both prominently display an opportunity for supporters to donate money.

The number of people running for governor grew by one Wednesday, when Rep. Dawn Hill, D-York, turned in her paperwork to become an official candidate. That brings the total number of people registered to run to 10, with several others, including Otten, considering a run.

The election will be held in November 2010, with party primaries set for June 2010.

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