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* Check out the above campaign handout for state Rep. Don Marean, R-Hollis. It’s not uncommon for candidates for the Maine Legislature to omit their party affiliation on campaign literature. The conventional wisdom is that Mainers care less about party and more about the person. Marean takes another approach altogether. Republican?  Democrat? Who cares? Bonny Eagle football! Issues? Yeah, Oct. 24, when the 4-1 Eagles take on unbeaten Windham. Not sure why the officials are waving their hands? No problem, flip the card over for a handy reference to referee hand signals. And by the way, elect Don Marean!

Sometimes it’s smart politics to not mention politics.

* Debates. We’re finally going to have some.

We think.

There will be two debates this week, all before business groups. The first one is Wednesday at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, and the second is Thursday at Thomas College in Waterville.

Expect the Verso paper mill closure to be a key issue as the candidates discuss the Maine economy. As a primer, be sure to read J. Craig Anderson’s piece about the barriers clouding the future of the paper industry. We also chatted about the politics of the closure during the weekly segment on WGAN.

* The Verso closure heightens the focus of economic issues in Maine and the candidates know it.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud on Sunday began airing an ad that attempts to capture Mainers’ anxieties and hopes for the economy, while also positioning the Democrat as the candidate who can best identify with workers (The music jumps out in this ad):

Meanwhile, Cutler has scheduled a press conference Monday to release his plan for Verso and to talk about the future of the Maine economy. The press event will be held at Cutler’s campaign headquarters in Portland.

* Portland attorney Peter Murray wrote an op-ed in Saturday’s Press Herald challenging Eliot Cutler to set a date to get out of the race for governor if the polls show that he can’t win.

Murray wrote:

“Our predicament would be solved if candidate Cutler were publicly to declare that if, 20 days before the election, responsible polling continues to assess his support at less than, say, 28 percent, he would withdraw from the race so that the next governor would be elected by a majority of Maine voters.

If Cutler would only make such a declaration, voters in my position can enthusiastically throw our support behind his candidacy. We can take our best shot at electing the best qualified governor available, without having to fear that our efforts would be facilitating the election of a candidate whom we really do not want.”

* The spending by outside groups in the gubernatorial race just keeps piling up and breaking records. Last week, we reported that spending on the race had topped $5.3 million. It just jumped over $6 million with two big buys by the Republican Governors Association ($319,732), which has been supporting Gov. Paul LePage’s reelection effort, and Maine Forward, the progressive political action committee partially funded by the Democratic Governors Association.

It’s unclear how much the DGA has spent on the race because it’s funneling its money through Maine Forward. The exempt organization does this in other states, too, while the RGA tends to spend its money directly.

We’ll get a clearer picture tonight. That’s because PACs have to file their October quarterly reports. The PAC filings with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices ends an extended dark period. While PACs have been required to report independent expenditures within two days since September, their internal finances have not been reported since July.

* Meanwhile, Maine Forward, just released another ad that highlights some of LePage’s more controversial statements. Here it is:

By the way, Democrats must have message tested associating the governor with the word “embarrassment.” It seems like it’s in most of the ads attacking LePage.

* This New York Times piece by Matt Bai about the downfall of former Democratic presidential hopeful Gary Hart and the impact on American politics is an amazing read for so many reasons.

No. 1 details of the clumsy stakeout by an investigative reporting team dispatched by the Miami Herald to look into Hart’s tryst with Donna Rice.

A passage:

“About 8:40 p.m. Saturday, Hart and Rice left the house and emerged into the adjacent alleyway, heading for the senator’s car. The idea, apparently, had been to meet Broadhurst and Armandt  for dinner. It was then that Hart noticed things were amiss. The first reporter he spotted in the side alley was McGee, a 200-pound man who for some reason had decided to make himself inconspicuous by donning sunglasses and a hooded parka. At night. In May.

McGee, sensing he had been made, turned on his heels and ran, bumping into Fiedler, who, being the only reporter on the scene whom Hart actually knew from the campaign plane, had disguised himself in a tracksuit and was pretending to jog around every so often. “He’s right behind me,” McGee whispered urgently. Fiedler immediately changed direction and jogged across the street, like a disoriented sprinter.”