Politics

September 17, 2012

Gaffe thrusts Maine into power struggle to control U.S. Senate

The outcome here takes on new importance after a Missouri candidate’s remarks prompt Republicans to throw up their hands there.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington.

The Associated Press

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U.S. Senate cadidates, from left, independent Angus King, Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill participate in a debate at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on Sept. 13.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at Cook Political Report, an influential Washington, D.C., publication that analyzes elections across the country, said campaign resources get shifted around all of the time. And Duffy suspects that much of the Missouri money will go to races in more expensive states such as Virginia and Ohio.

But Duffy said there’s a feeling among Republicans that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s early ads “moved the numbers” in Summers’ favor.

So the Republican senatorial committee, a super PAC called Maine Freedom and other groups will likely try to move them a little more “because if they do, this is a competitive race.” And Maine is a comparatively cheap state when it comes to buying airtime.

“If it does get competitive, it puts (national) Democrats in a rather awkward position because they have already said – not so much in words but in actions – that they are not going to do anything for Cynthia Dill,” Duffy said. While the Maine Democratic Party supports Dill’s candidacy, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has yet to offer her any financial help.

The Washington-based PAC Maine Freedom has already caused some discomfort with nearly $250,000 in ads that, on the surface, seem to support Dill by calling her “a Democrat you can believe in.” But Maine Freedom is run by individuals with Republican ties, prompting observers to believe they are attempting to help Summers by dividing the Democratic/progressive vote between King and Dill. Both Dill’s and King’s campaigns have denounced the ads.

Wendy Schiller, an associate professor of political science and public policy at Brown University in Providence, R.I., said that “all is fair” when it comes to political warfare.

Schiller pointed out that McCaskill spent money on ads subtly supporting Akin in the primary because she believed she would have a better shot against the conservative candidate in the general election.

As for Maine’s Senate race, Schiller said she wasn’t surprised to hear about a recent surge in Republican spending. After all, a strong showing for Summers at the polls could help GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who Maine Republicans believe could pick up at least one electoral vote by winning the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

“In a race this close, I think one (electoral vote) can really make a difference,” Schiller said.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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