Maine’s three-way race for governor is heading into the final stretch much the way it looked a year ago: close and unpredictable.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage, the incumbent, has been locked in a duel with Democrat Mike Michaud, with Eliot Cutler campaigning hard to overtake both.

The dynamics also are similar to the 2010 race, which saw LePage ride to a narrow victory with the help of widespread vote-splitting by supporters of Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell. That race also featured two lesser-known independents who combined to earn 6 percent of votes.

LePage, as he did four years ago, has a granite-strength base of support that, even though it has not risen above 35-40 percent in repeated polls, may be enough to win. A big question mark in the race remains whether or not the anti-LePage vote collectively coalesces behind Michaud or Cutler.

LePage, a former businessman and mayor of Waterville, has had a tumultuous first term punctuated by verbal gaffes and a combative approach to governing. He has asked voters to judge him on his actions, not his words, and during the campaign has talked more about his accomplishments since 2010 than what he plans to do if elected to a second term.

Among those accomplishments are passing the biggest tax cuts in Maine history, reforming public assistance programs and adding charter schools as an education option.

Michaud, a longtime millworker from East Millinocket, is a former president of the Maine Senate and spent the last 12 years representing Maine’s 2nd District in Congress. He has been boosted by a strong coalition of support from Democrats and other progressive groups wary of repeating what happened four years ago.

Last November, Michaud announced that he is gay, something he had not disclosed in his previous three decades of public service. Although he would make history as the first openly gay U.S. governor if elected, Michaud’s announcement faded far into the background of the public campaign.

Michaud, an unassuming candidate more comfortable with retail politics than in front of cameras and microphones, has campaigned for a return to civility and cooperation at the State House and worked to convince voters that he’s the guy who can beat LePage.

Cutler, a lawyer and former budget official under former President Jimmy Carter, entered the 2014 race long before Michaud, hoping his narrow loss to LePage in 2010 would give him enough name recognition and support to reverse that outcome.

Cutler, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, has a strong command of policy and has pledged to release Maine from the vice grip of two-party politics. But some potential supporters have continued to fear his presence in the race could help LePage win a second term.

LePage recently told a local television station that he thinks he will either win big or get blown out. But don’t bet on it.

Like 2010, this year’s race could go down to the wire.

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