A series of ads sponsored by an outside group with Republican ties has been encouraging Maine voters for more than two weeks to choose Democrat Cynthia Dill over independent former Gov. Angus King in the race for Maine’s open U.S. Senate seat.
The ads, paid for by a group called Maine Freedom, call Dill “a Democrat you can feel good about.”
But Dill, a state senator from Cape Elizabeth, says the ads aren’t helping her. Instead, she claims, they’re a boost to two of her opponents in the race: King and Republican rival Charlie Summers.
“If these ads were truly done on my behalf, they wouldn’t have erred on salient points: Angus King and I are not the same,” she said in a statement released by her campaign over the weekend.
The ad calls both Dill and King “reliable Obama allies” on health care and taxes without noting that only Dill’s position in favor of ending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 and more annually lines up with President Barack Obama’s. On his website, King says he previously supported ending the Bush tax cuts immediately. Now, however, he says he supports pegging the end of the tax cuts to a “non-arbitrary measure” like growth in gross domestic product or a lower unemployment rate.
Dill’s statement came in response to a second infusion of cash into the ad campaign from Maine Freedom’s backers, who are so far anonymous because the group hasn’t yet had to disclose its donors to the Federal Election Commission. Maine Freedom has now spent $249,000 on the ads. In terms of expenditures independent of any of the candidates, only the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has now spent more on TV ads in Maine’s Senate race.
“The GOP super-PAC airing ads in Maine is trying to speak for me and is attempting to deceive Maine voters,” Dill said in her statement. “I have denounced this effort before and labeled it cynical.”
Here’s a rundown of Maine Freedom’s GOP ties that we know about: The group’s treasurer, Michael Adams, serves as general counsel for the Republican Governors Association. Assistant treasurer Erin Berry is former deputy counsel for the Republican Governors Association and former associate general counsel for the Republican State Leadership Committee. The firm Maine Freedom has used to make its ad buys, Target Enterprises, is led by Adam Stoll, who’s worked on Republican campaigns and served as an adviser to the 2004 and 2008 Republican National Conventions.
“Please get the reporting accurate: This ad benefits Charlie Summers,” Dill says. “It also benefits Angus King by making him appear to be more of a Democrat than he truly is.”
There’s no way to know so far what impact the Maine Freedom ads have had in the Senate race, since we haven’t seen any polling since the TV spots started airing.
King has said in response to the Maine Freedom ads: “I am all about promoting bipartisanship but Republicans buying television campaign ads for Democrats might be taking it a little too far.” He called it “another example of out of state interests trying to tell Mainers how to vote.”
Summers campaign manager Lance Dutson noted last month that “people are allowed to run whatever ads they want.”