The Washington-D.C. think tank Employment Policies Institute will begin running a radio ad that targets a significant policy initiative of Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud: Raising the minimum wage. 

The issue is also on the front burner in the U.S. Senate, where U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is reportedly working on a bipartisan deal that would raise the wage to a level less than what the Obama administration has requested while also installing small business tax credits to offset the impacts.

The radio spot, which EPI said in a press statement will run a heavy rotation in Maine, does not mention Michaud by name, an omission that allows the non-profit group to classify the ad as an issue spot, not a campaign expenditure. However, it says Mainers have "been hearing more promises from politicians about the benefits of raising the minimum wage." It goes on to cite an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office that estimated that raising the wage to $10.10 could result in the loss of 500,000 jobs, most of them held by women. 

Women and the minimum wage debate are expected to play a significant role in the 2014 race for governor. Republican Gov. Paul LePage opposes the minimum wage hike and last year vetoed a proposal that would have raised the wage to $9 an hour and indexed increases with inflation.

Michaud, along with other Democratic candidates for governor in other states, has continued to push the issue since declaring his candidacy. Last month he joined members of the Obama administration to discuss the issue at an event held in Portland. Independent Eliot Cutler also supports increasing the minimum wage, but he has not been as aggressive in pushing the issue, telling the Portland Press Herald in March that raising the wage would not solve Maine’s economic problems. 

As for EPI, the group has launched a series of campaigns in other states to oppose increasing the minimum wage. The group’s opposition makes sense: It’s headed by Richard Berman, who also runs a public relations firm that represents the restaurant industry, one of the staunchest opponents of raising the minimum wage.

Critics of EPI say the organization is merely a front group using skewed research to advance the policy initiatives for Berman’s corporate clients. A Feb. 9 story in the New York Times used EPI as an example of how both conservative and progressive groups are using think tanks and other research groups to influence public opinion in "opaque" ways. 

Here’s the text of the EPI ad:

“These past few years haven’t been easy for us in Maine. They talk about an ‘economic recovery’ on TV, but times are still tough for many of my friends and neighbors. Instead of getting help from Washington, all we get are empty promises. Like that promise that we could keep our health care plans if we liked them. We all know how that turned out. Lately, we’ve been hearing more promises from politicians about the benefits of raising the minimum wage. It may sound like a good idea, but nonpartisan government economists say that a half-million jobs will be lost if it happens. The worst part is that nearly 60 percent of those lost jobs will be held by women. The last thing Maine needs is more broken promises from politicians I don’t trust.”