Cynthia Dill, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, has nixed recent calls that she leave the race lest she become a spoiler and give the race to Republican nominee Charlie Summers.

Dill has been polling far behind her rivals and appears a longshot to win the race. Many centrist and left-of-center voters fear a repeat of the 2010 gubernatorial contest, in which their vote split, the right’s did not, and Paul LePage captured the Blaine House.

In an interview with Dill last week for Sunday’s biographical profile, she was asked about the issue. She expressed astonishment that a major party nominee would be asked to leave the race weeks before Election Day. She pointed out that Eliot Cutler had lower polling numbers than she has at the same stage in their respective campaigns, yet nearly won the 2010 gubernatorial election.

“For people who suggest I should stand down, my response is, ‘who is going to stand up for the values I bring to the table? It’s not Angus King,’” she said, echoing previous remarks on the subject. “He’s not fighting for working families and civil justice and economic justice.”

But then, having slammed the door on the idea, she opened it a crack.

“In terms of the horse counting — the horse race, however you want to term it — it’s too early to be asking,” she said. “What I tell people is, ‘maybe there will be some last-minute deal.’ You know, I’m a deal maker. I settled large cases on the eve of trial.”

Dill is an attorney.

“Maybe there will be something. But it won’t be unless someone is willing. Angus King needs to be clean with people and straight, because right now he’s play

ing this game” regarding which party he will caucus with. If the polling numbers continue to tighten, expect Dill’s phone to start ringing.

LePage campaigns in Delaware

Gov. Paul LePage has been relatively quiet in Maine lately, but he was in Delaware last week to help the Republican gubernatorial candidate there raise money.

According to news reports, Republican Jeff Cragg could use the help.

Cragg has raised just $60,000 in his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, according to the News Journal. Cragg has loaned himself more than $26,000. Markell, meanwhile, has raised more than $1.2 million.

LePage was listed as a special guest at a Tuesday event. He was joined by former U.S. Rep. Mike Castle and a roster of Republicans that appear designed to appeal to a wide spectrum of Republican donors. While LePage will likely resonate with the tea party crowd, Castle was known as a moderate congressman.

Castle was ousted during the 2010 Republican primary by tea party candidate Christine O’Donnell.

Collins, Snowe mum on Question 1

The Washington Blade reported last week that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is undecided on how she’ll vote on Question 1, the ballot initiative that asks voters if they support same-sex marriage.

“Like voters in my state, I am considering this issue very carefully,” she told the Blade.

Collins has been recognized for her support for gay and lesbian issues.

She worked to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and is the first Republican to cosponsor the Uniting American Families Act.

The Blade said it did not hear back from Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office with a similar inquiry on the issue.

U.S. Chamber attacks King again

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released its third ad attacking Angus King, the independent candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maine.

The new 30-second spot hits familiar notes — King’s fiscal management — and uses the same tone as its previous ads (fire up the harpsichord).

However, it also drops a subtle, sympathetic reference to Gov. John Baldacci that is designed to resonate with Democratic voters who may be wavering between King and Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill.

It’s not yet clear how large the U.S. Chamber ad buy is, but given the group’s previous purchases, it’s probably significant.

Mass comments spur email

Anne Underwood, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, sent an email blast last week criticizing her local church (she didn’t say which one) for inserting politics into a recent worship service.

“This past Sunday was confusing and painful in my parish,” she wrote. She said the priest told a story about how, for 30 years, a husband always gave his wife the heel of the bread when making sandwiches. She finally asked why, and he said, “because it’s my favorite part.” And she replies,”But I hate the heel.”

This led to a discussion of Scripture, according to Underwood, in which the priest quoted passages from Mark that denounce divorce.

“From a passage devoted to divorce, he deduced that only opposite gender couples are chosen by God for marriage,” she wrote.

After the service, Catholics for Marriage Equality held a banner outside and passed out buttons and pamphlets.

The group has been a vocal critic of the church for its opposition to gay marriage and for its deep involvement in the 2009 campaign to repeal gay marriage in Maine.

This time around, the church has said it will focus on delivering its message after Mass with discussions for those who are interested in the topic.

Virtual schools co. donates to GOP

K12 Inc., the Herndon, Va., firm at the center of a Maine Sunday Telegram investigative report on virtual schools and digital learning policy in Maine, has made additional donations to Maine Republicans in recent months.

According to the latest disclosures submitted to the state ethics commission, K12 donated $2,500 to the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC at the end of August and $500 to the leadership PAC of house whip Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, in early September.

Previously, K12 appeared to be trying to shore up its support with Democrats.

On Jan. 3 it gave $500 to the House Democratic Campaign Committee, and in 2011 another $500 to the leadership PAC of Assistant Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland. (Alfond was the sponsor of a digital education bill, which was backed by K12, that was rejected in committee last session.)

In 2011 it also gave $500 to the Empowering Maine Leadership PAC, the leadership PAC of Sen. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, the Senate minority leader.

In 2010, the firm contributed $19,000 in support of Paul LePage’s candidacy for governor via the RGA Maine PAC.

As the Telegram investigation showed, virtual charter schools managed by K12 have a questionable track record in other states. The company has applied to manage such a school in Maine, the Maine Virtual Academy.

As previously reported, K12 is currently under investigation in Florida for allegedly using uncertified teachers in its schools.

Susan Cover — 621-5643

scover@mainetoday.com

Colin Woodard — 791-6317

cwoodard@pressherald.com

Steve Mistler — 791-6345

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler

John Richardson — 791-6324

jrichardson@pressherald.com