September 11, 2012

Summers getting new help from outsider ads

The GOP group wouldn't say if it plans more spots touting Democrat Cynthia Dill at independent Angus King's expense.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Charlie Summers' U.S. Senate campaign is about get another big advertising boost from outside the state.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee spent $129,375 Monday on air time in the Portland television market, for a 30-second spot to begin running Wednesday, according to TV station records.

The group reportedly will spend $500,000 statewide over the next two weeks, which would make it the largest ad campaign so far in the race for Maine's open Senate seat.

It also would push outside spending in the race over $1 million, nearly all of it by groups that are trying to elect a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be the third out-of-state group to air television ads aimed at helping to elect Summers.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $400,000 for an ad campaign that attacked the independent front-runner, former Gov. Angus King.

Maine Freedom, a group with ties to national Republican strategists, spent $249,000 to air an ad touting Democratic nominee Cynthia Dill as the best choice for Democratic voters. The ad is seen as an attempt to help Summers, because Republicans need Dill and King to split the Democratic vote and improve Summers' chances at the polls Nov. 6.

So far, none of the outside ads apparently aimed at helping Summers has mentioned him by name.

Officials with the National Republican Senatorial Committee did not reply to phone calls and emails Monday requesting more information about the new ads.

The Summers campaign said it does not know what the commercial contains. It is illegal for independent outside groups to coordinate efforts with candidates.

A blogger for the National Journal's online magazine cited Republican insiders Monday in a report saying the new ad is likely to continue the GOP's unusual strategy of building up the Democratic candidate in an effort to elect Summers.

"Expect the NRSC advertising to strike a similar balance between boosting Dill and cutting down King," Reid Wilson wrote in his blog, Hotline On Call.

The senatorial committee isn't limiting its involvement to the ad campaign. The group also is sponsoring a new website, "dillandkingreport.com," which has pages, links and videos focusing on the "liberal records" of Dill and King. The website doesn't mention Summers.

Drew Brandewie, spokesman for Summers, said the new ad buy shows support building for the "small-business conservative" in the race.

"It's clear Charlie's message is resonating," Brandewie said in a written statement. "It's clear Charlie has the momentum as he travels the state fighting to keep taxes low, to end reckless Washington spending, and to protect the future for the next generation of Mainers."

Crystal Canney, spokeswoman for King, called it another example of out-of-state interests trying to tell Mainers how to vote.

"This is exactly what's wrong with Washington. The system is broken and anyone who wants to try and begin fixing it is going to come under attack from the D.C. status quo," Canney said. "We have faith in the Maine people to see through this."

It's not clear whether the ad promoting Dill is helping her campaign, but she has become increasingly critical of the GOP's apparent strategy to use her against King.

"A GOP Super PAC airing ads in Maine is trying to speak for me and thereby usurp my First Amendment rights," she said last week.

The Dill campaign did not comment Monday on the new ad buy because it had not seen the ad.

The new outside advertising shows that Republicans nationally aren't giving up on Maine's Senate seat. The spending also may reflect an increasing concern about the party's chances in other states and its hopes of winning a majority in the Senate.

(Continued on page 2)

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