Wednesday February 23, 2011 | 05:20 PM

A conservative advocacy group that spent millions of dollars during the 2010 campaign is running a radio ad criticizing Rep. Mike Michaud’s vote against the House GOP bill that cuts $61 billion in federal spending this year.

Crossroads GPS, which has links to such prominent GOP figures as former President George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, included Michaud of Maine’s second district among a group of a dozen Democrats it goes after in the spot. The ad, which cuts and pastes different lawmakers depending on where it runs, uses President Reagan’s call for a smaller federal government as the starting point to laud the House GOP bill and blast Democrats who voted against the measure.
 
For his part, Michaud and other Democrats say the GOP spending bill for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, goes too far in cutting programs such as emergency low-income heating assistance and taking away money for worthwhile Maine projects such as $10 million previously approved to help upgrade a freight rail line in northern Maine. Michaud also has noted that he voted for individual amendments to the GOP bill that cut $3 billion in spending, including voting to axe $450 million for an alternate engine for the F-35 fighter – a cut that was approved. The main engine is partially built at a Pratt & Whitney plant in North Berwick.
 
Crossroads GPS, which doesn't release the names of its donors, is spending $13,000 on the anti-Michaud ad, starting today, for a week, a Crossroads spokesman said. Overall, the group is spending $450,000 on the radio ads. It also is running similar ads in 10 GOP districts, lauding those lawmakers for voting in favor of the bill, which passed the House with no Democrats voting yes and only three Republicans voting no.
 
The radio spots are a sign of the never-ending campaign. In Michaud’s case, it just might also be a sign that the conservative group also is hoping to send a persuasive signal to the two GOP senators from Maine, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Both already have criticized some of the cuts in the House bill, and Senate Democratic majority leaders have vowed to make major changes before the final 2011 spending measure leaves their chamber.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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