October 25, 2010

Campaign Notebook: Political TV ads enter campaign's homestretch

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

Mainers watching their favorite fall television programming will also get a heavy dose of campaign advertising until Election Day on Nov. 2, according to independent expenditure reports filed over the last week.

Spending this close to the election for and against candidates has to be reported within 24 hours of being spent, according to Maine campaign laws.

More than $1 million has recently been spent on advertising, mostly television.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage has seen the most spending, both for and against.

Groups such as the Maine Republican Party and the Republican Governors Association recently spent about $191,000 to support his candidacy, while Maine Women Vote, the Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund and the Maine Democratic Party have spent about $397,000 against him.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler came in second for money spent for and against, something his campaign said reflects his recent rise in the polls.

The Maine Democratic Party, the Maine Republican Party, the Republican Governors Association and the union-funded Jobs, Justice and the Environment PAC have spent about $346,000 opposing Cutler. The Campaign for Maine PAC, funded by many Maine lobbyists, has spent $86,000 supporting him.

Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell received about $18,000 in support from the Maine Women Vote PAC while the Maine Republican Party and the Republican Governors Association have spent about $192,000 opposing her candidacy.


As of Friday afternoon, about 87,500 absentee ballots had been requested from the Maine Secretary of State's office.

About 32,000, or 36 percent, of the ballots were requested by registered Democrats; about 30,000, or 34.5 percent, by Republicans and about 24,000, or 27 percent, had been requested by voters not enrolled in a political party.

Around this time before the 2008 election, Maine Democrats had requested about 42 percent of all absentee ballots, compared with 29 percent for Republicans and about 27 percent for unenrolled voters.


During a meeting with the MaineToday Media endorsement board, Mitchell was asked why polls have showed a large undecided contingent.

She said she and LePage have faced months of scrutiny because they had to win their party primaries. Cutler, as an independent, didn't have to go through that process.

"He's the pretty girl who's moved to town that everybody wants to take out on a date because they want to get to know him better," she said. "I don't mean to be flip about it, but that's where we are. We are all staggering from the body blows."


Just one of the four candidates for Congress -- Republican Jason Levesque -- took the 2010 Political Courage Test put out by Project Vote Smart, the group announced.

Levesque, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the state's 2nd District, scored a 92 percent. The courage test asks candidates to commit to telling citizens where they stand on issues, and quizzes them on key issues.

Project Vote Smart was founded by national leaders such as Jimmy Carter and Newt Gingrich, and it tracks the voting records, backgrounds and issue positions of more than 40,000 candidates and elected officials.


At an education forum last week, the candidates were asked who they would vote for if they could not vote for themselves.

Kevin Scott: "I'd write in my wife, Susan Merrow."

Paul LePage: "I would stay home."

Shawn Moody: "I'd check all four. We're going to need it."

Libby Mitchell: "I don't have a second choice."

Eliot Cutler: "I think I'd go fishing."


The Maine Farm Bureau recently posted a special election issue that highlights responses to questions from 84 legislative candidates.

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