* Dividing the opposition vote has been tried here before. It’s happening again.

The Maine Republican Party has begun spending money on mail advertising designed to boost independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. The mail piece that hit Portland and other markets shows Cutler, Democratic candidate Mike Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage on three issues that would likely resonate with progressive voters. Each issue is framed with seemingly Democratic vernacular — “gun control,” “pro-choice” and “managerial experience.” A mailer specifically targeting registered Republicans would likely use different language — “2nd Amendment rights,” “abortion,” “business experience.”

It’s no secret that LePage’s reelection partially hinges on a strong — but not too strong — Cutler performance. The question is, why do the mail piece now? Also, what’s next?

The mailer drops as speculation continues over Cutler’s recent, limited spending on television advertising. I don’t have the market analysis, but the published FCC reports show the independent has fewer spots airing than Michaud and LePage (He can certainly buy more in the closing weeks, however.) The campaign has dismissed Democrat-inspired speculation that Cutler is “going dark,” although, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t explained the strategy it’s deploying, either. Perhaps the campaign is waiting to see if its internal poll shows a bump from the televised debates.

So was the Republican mailer triggered by Cutler’s TV spending? Perhaps. After all, it seems a bit early, unless the idea is to disrupt Democrats’ early absentee voting drive. In any event, it’s doubtful the mailer will be Republicans’ last attempt to help Cutler. The race is deadlocked. There’s the likelihood of strategic voting. A late robocall? Something oriented around a poll?

We’ll see.

* The New York Times on Sunday published its takeout piece on the race. The story is likely familiar to Mainers following the contest. However, the Times was kind enough to offer this nugget about the pronunciation of Michaud:

“Mr. Michaud (whose name has been pronounced as both MeSHOW and MeSHOO; he has no preference) enjoys the support of national Democrats, unions and environmentalists.”

 

* Hillary Rodham Clinton will campaign for Michaud in Scarborough on Friday. Her visit will be followed by President Barack Obama the weekend before the election.

Both visits are obviously unity and profile events for Michaud. However, both visits dovetail with the Maine Democratic Party’s emphasis, and spending, on turning out voters. Clinton, a presumed 2016 presidential candidate, could help with women, a strength for Michaud according to recent polling, and a key demographic in the midterm election.

Obama’s visit has been panned by Republicans, who cite his declining popularity as a base motivator and a liability for Democrats.

* The Washington Post’s The Fix noted that gubernatorial elections could make history this year in its latest rankings (Maine is No. 3):

“Not since 1984 have more than six sitting governors lost in any one election. But, 30 years after that gubernatorial carnage, a look at this year’s races puts 11 incumbents in various levels of peril — suggesting that history may be in the making.”

* Cutler was endorsed by the Portsmouth Herald and the Seacoast Newspapers. The New Hampshire publishing company owns two papers in Maine, the York County Coast Star and the York Weekly.

* The final two gubernatorial debates will be held Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s debate at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland will be aired live by WGME-TV beginning at 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s debate will take place at WMTW’s Auburn studios at 7 p.m.

* Here’s this week’s weekly interview on WGAN 560 with Ken and Mike.