AUGUSTA – Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he expects 50 percent to 55 percent of eligible Maine voters to go to the polls Tuesday, based on history and other open-seat gubernatorial elections.

“We never know how many people to plan for,” he said. “It’s kind of like having a party.”

Voters will weigh in on three ballot questions, five candidates for governor and various local issues and races.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Question 1 on the statewide ballot asks voters if they want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Oxford County.

Question 2 asks voters if they want to approve a $5 million dental bond.

Question 3 asks if they favor a $9.57 million land conservation bond.

The race for governor gives voters five options: independent Eliot Cutler, Republican Paul LePage, Democrat Libby Mitchell, independent Shawn Moody and independent Kevin Scott.

Dunlap said he expects 450,000 to 500,000 people to vote, but “my projection level skill is very, very spotty.”

WHAT ABOUT THE CASINO?

The five gubernatorial candidates on Tuesday’s ballot have been asked several times what they think of Question 1, which would allow a casino in Oxford County.

Last week, Cutler, Mitchell and Moody said they would vote no.

Scott said: “I don’t share how I vote.”

And LePage said he’s going to leave it blank. “I’m not voting on the question,” he said.

NO TEA PARTY ENDORSEMENTS

Pete Harring, who leads the tea party group Maine ReFounders, held a news conference in Portland on Thursday to announce the tea party’s candidate endorsements.

Standing before a group of reporters in Monument Square, Harring rolled out the big announcement: The tea party is not endorsing anyone.

“We do not endorse candidates, not that there are many candidates on the ballot who are worthy of being endorsed by the tea party movement,” Harring said.

The Standish carpenter explained that his nonpartisan group decided to make the announcement after Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who is being challenged by Republican Dean Scontras, described Scontras in an e-mail to supporters as her “tea party opponent.”

Scontras, a favorite of many tea party members, was a featured speaker at a tea party rally in Westbrook on Sept. 19 and a tea party rally in Portland on April 15.

While Scontras is not a member of a tea party group, he is sympathetic to the movement’s belief that government spending is out of control, said Scontras spokesman Martin Sheehan.

A “far-left candidate” like Pingree would see that being a member of the tea party is insulting, Sheehan said. “Dean doesn’t see it as an insult,” he said.

NO DONATIONS FROM CORRECTIONS

So, the Maine Department of Corrections isn’t really giving money to the Maine Republican Party, although it has been making regular payments of about $350 to the party’s fundraising account.

A sharp-eyed reader asked reporters about the donations, listed on the party’s campaign finance reports. The payments are actually restitution from Constance Wilkins, the former bookkeeper for the party who was found guilty of embezzling nearly $50,000 from 2005 to 2008.

Republican officials said the Department of Corrections wasn’t handing over taxpayers’ money, but passing on Wilkins’ payments to reimburse what was stolen. Wilkins, of Embden, was sentenced in 2009 to serve six months in jail and three years of probation.

CHARLIE BROWN GETS TWO VOTES

Delegates who attended the 137th annual session of the Maine State Grange in Skowhegan participated in a straw poll that gave LePage the win by one vote.

The poll, which included 74 delegates, definitely was not scientific. The results: LePage 30, Cutler 29, Mitchell 7, Moody 4, Scott 2, Charlie Brown 2.

WHERE WOULD LEPAGE CELEBRATE?

During an appearance on “Road to the Blaine House with Mal Leary,” LePage was asked where he and his wife will go to celebrate if he wins Tuesday.

LePage paused, smiled and then said: “It’s X-rated!”

Both men laughed, and Leary said, “Well, let’s talk about the part that’s not X-rated.”

LePage said his election night party will be in Waterville.

“We’ll celebrate in Waterville with our supporters and our friends,” he said.

PRETTY HARSH . . . FOR MAINE

University of Maine at Farmington political science professor Jim Melcher said Friday that all the negative mailings have given this campaign a particularly negative feel.

“Maine standards, it’s been a pretty harsh campaign,” he said. “national standards, it’s been relatively tame.”

After all, this isn’t New York or Chicago, he said.

DEMOCRATIC LEADER APOLOGIZES

A leader of Maine’s Democratic Party apologized Friday to those who were offended by anti-Eliot Cutler campaign mailers that some considered anti-Chinese.

The mailers took aim at Cutler for his work as head of a law office in China. One mailer said: “With Eliot Cutler as governor, Mainers might as well learn Chinese.”

Arden Manning, the party’s coordinated campaign director, said the mailings had an unintended impact on voters.

“I received many thoughtful e-mails and calls,” he said, “and I was alarmed to learn that people viewed the mailers as anti-Chinese. While that was not our goal, the perception that the Democratic Party would ever propagate an anti-minority message is unacceptable to me. I want to apologize to any of you that felt that way.”

AND NOW INTRODUCING. . . .

The gubernatorial candidates got to choose someone to introduce them last week at a forum in Bangor that focused on education. It was a rare light moment in what has been an otherwise tense few weeks.

Kevin Price, a senior at the University of Maine and a Republican, said he’s backing Cutler. “He is the only candidate who can bring together people from all parties to govern from the center,” he said.

LePage’s adult daughter Lauren listed many of her father’s accomplishments in the private sector and as mayor of Waterville. “I firmly believe my dad, Paul LePage, will make the citizens of Maine proud,” she said.

Nick Danby, 12, who gave Democrat Pat McGowan a rousing introduction at the Democratic convention in May, came out in favor of Mitchell. “It’s her experience, her integrity, her stamina and knowledge for issues,” he said.

Moody’s adult daughter Danielle said she wasn’t sure about her father’s aspirations — at first. “When I first saw my father on the Channel 13 Great Debate, I thought to myself, ‘What is he doing up there with those political professionals and bureaucratic heavyweights?’” she said. “the end of that debate, I was thinking, ‘Why are those politicians on stage with my father?’“

Ethan Nestor-Darling, a middle school student and gymnastics champion, had a lot of nice things to say about Scott. “Kevin is a very energetic and enthusiastic person who has as much energy as me, but his gymnastics could use a little work,” he said.

RETIRED GENERALS BACK CUTLER

Three retired military leaders have endorsed Cutler for governor.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Earl Adams of Pittston, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Nelson E. Durgin of Bangor and retired Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Tinkham of Gardiner all praised Cutler.

“We are confident that Eliot has the temperament, skills and experience to be a strong and effective commander in chief,” they wrote in a joint statement.

FORMER GOP OFFICIAL FOR MITCHELL

Scott Kauffman, a former vice chairman of the Maine Republican Party, last week endorsed Mitchell for governor.

“She embodies what is best about Maine, and has never forgotten that Maine is best served by those who know the state best,” he said.

GROUP URGES ANTI-LEPAGE VOTE

Environment Maine, a statewide citizen-based environmental advocacy group, released a statement Thursday to say it is mobilizing members to vote against LePage.

The group, which sent out a fact sheet and e-mails to 5,000 members, did not say which other candidate it would want to win the election.

“Environment Maine will mobilize its members and activists to vote against LePage so that Maine can continue to make progress preserving and protecting its environment,” the group wrote.

 

Staff Writers Tom Bell and John Richardson contributed to his report.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be reached at 620-7015 or at:

[email protected]

 

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