Monday October 01, 2012 | 03:50 PM


It's relatively common practice for legislative candidates not to mention their party affiliation. The idea is to avoid turning off would-be supporters, especially independent voters.

In Senate District 6, which includes Scarborough and Gorham, the Maine Democratic Party has taken the practice a step further. At first glance, the above mail piece appears to tout the candidate Jim Boyle's independence.

"Augusta's political parties don't matter to Jim Boyle," the mailer says. "The issues we face in Maine aren't Democratic or Republican problems. They are Maine problems."

It adds, "Jim is tired of Augusta political games that score points for parties -- not people."

The mailer doesn't say Boyle is an independent, but one could make that assumption based on the above testimonials, not to mention the front of the mailer.

Here's the thing: Boyle is running as a Democrat. 

That the mailer omits this fact isn't unique. However, that the piece makes such a big deal about Boyle's independence while also reciting Democratic talking points ("oppose tax cuts to the rich," protect the environment, "reverse giveaways to insurance companies," etc.) shows a more concerted effort to appeal to unenrolled voters, who will likely determine the outcome in District 6.

Boyle faces Republican Ruth Summers, wife of Secretary of State Charlie Summers. Democratic Sen. Phil Bartlett currently holds the seat, but registered Democrats hold a slim lead over registered Republicans.  

It will be interesting to see if this mailer shows up in other districts.

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

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