Kevin Raye and Bruce Poliquin, the Republican candidates seeking the nomination in the 2nd Congressional District, continued blasting away at one another last week with the release of dueling television ads.
And, as is often the case with negative ads, some claims are more solid than others.
We’ll start with Poliquin’s ad, and then truth-test Raye’s.
The Poliquin spot makes several cagey claims, most of which are badly qualified. One claim, saying Raye praised a federal stimulus bill, is false.
• Raye “made thousands working for Washington lobbyists.”
This is probably fair: The Lewiston Sun Journal reported Raye’s work for Advanced Medical Technologies, or AdvaMed, a Washington, D.C., trade group that represents and lobbies for large medical equipment manufacturers.
Raye’s 2009 and 2010 legislative financial disclosure forms say he made more than $1,000 working for AdvaMed both years. He said he was hired to call Maine businesses and inform them that a tax on medical devices under the federal Affordable Care Act would hurt them.
• Raye called the federal stimulus bill “a true stimulant.”
No, he didn’t. He also didn’t trumpet the virtues of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which spent hundreds of billions in areas such as infrastructure, education, health and energy with the goal of saving and creating jobs in a recession.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Raye told a group of businesspeople in 2009 that with Maine’s share of stimulus money, “We need to make sure we have transparency, a sense of responsibility, so that everybody knows where every dollar is spent.”
“The goal,” Raye added, “is that the money is spent as a true stimulant.”
That’s not an endorsement, and he didn’t call it “a true stimulant.” He essentially said he hoped it would be.
• Raye “voted to keep Maine’s death tax and to increase boat and hunting fees.”
He did, but not as standalone items. The two-year state budget passed in 2009 raised boat registration fees by $5 and in-state fees for certain in-state hunting, fishing and other licenses by $4.
But this budget was ushered in under Democratic leaders while Raye was Senate minority leader. All but two Republican senators voted for the budget, including David Trahan, now executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
• Raye “voted yes on a plan to implement Obamacare in Maine.”
There was not a vote; Raye simply served on a bipartisan committee that made recommendations in 2010 on how the state would deal with the Affordable Care Act, which had recently passed.
– Michael Shepherd
FACT-CHECKING KEVIN RAYE
The Raye ad treads familiar ground in Poliquin’s short political career, from a tax controversy to a gun-control donation and his residency. The latter issue has been a familiar song in the campaign because of Poliquin’s recent move to the district, but Raye uses a “cute little baby” to illustrate it.
• Poliquin “got caught abusing the Tree Growth program to avoid paying property taxes on his oceanside estate in southern Maine.”
Poliquin didn’t totally avoid paying property taxes on his 12-acre estate in Georgetown. Also, “abuse” is a subjective term, and selectmen never penalized him for eventually withdrawing the land from the program. The candidate was, however, roundly criticized for it. There is little question that his use of the program violated the intent of the law, which is supposed to promote tree harvesting.
He once had 10 acres of his property – assessed at $3.4 million last year – in a state tax-break program aimed at helping landowners maintain properties as productive woodlots. The parcel, however, carries a deed restriction that largely prohibits Poliquin from harvesting timber.
• Poliquin “donated money to handgun control.”
This is true: In 1989, Poliquin gave $500 to Handgun Control Inc., which now operates as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control group that fights conservative organizations such as the National Rifle Association.
Throughout the campaign, Poliquin has said he is a supporter of gun rights. In a May op-ed in the Bangor Daily News, he wrote, “I do not support, and never have, the extreme objectives of national gun control groups, such as a federal directory of gun owners or expanded background checks.”
But there’s some question about that: In 2010, Poliquin was the only Republican at a gubernatorial candidates forum to say he supports mandatory background checks when purchasing a firearm.
• A 10-month-old baby has lived in the 2nd District longer than Poliquin.
The baby (who is Raye’s great-great-nephew, according to the campaign) has lived in the district longer than Poliquin, who has said he moved to Oakland, a 2nd District town, in August.
But it’s not as if the candidate just parachuted into the district: Poliquin moved into a family home whose deed he has shared with his parents since 2007.
He grew up in Waterville, a 1st District city, but his family had a lakeside cottage in neighboring Oakland, where he spent time as a child. So if you credit him for total time spent, he has the baby beat.
– Michael Shepherd
PATRICK PAC TO BOOST MICHAUD
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s potential presidential bid could provide a lift for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s quest for the Blaine House.
Media outlets in Boston have reported that Patrick’s Together PAC will spend money in a host of gubernatorial races, including Maine. Michaud’s campaign has also confirmed that Patrick will visit the Pine Tree State this summer to help the Democratic candidate’s fundraising efforts.
Patrick formed the Together PAC in 2012 to boost President Obama’s re-election bid, and also to raise his own national profile. Patrick is reportedly considering a presidential bid.
His PAC, largely funded by labor unions, business executives and groups from the pharmaceutical and health care sectors, spent close to a $1 million in 2012. It’s a modest amount compared to the super PACs and third party groups that combined to spend more than $375.8 million opposing Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012 (Anti-Obama PACs and groups spent $288.6 million against Obama, the anti-Romney groups spent $87.2 million). In fact, Patrick’s PAC doesn’t even crack the top 100 in a ranking of outside spending compiled by the Los Angeles Times.
Nonetheless, the PAC’s dollars – it has spent nearly $800,000 so far – could be of assistance in Maine, where the ad time is cheap. According to the Boston Herald, Patrick plans to help other Democratic candidates, including Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. The PAC already has spent money in Texas hoping to bolster Democratic candidate Wendy Davis.
– Steve Mistler
KING THE KINGMAKER
A petition effort is underway to compel independent U.S. Sen. Angus King to endorse U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, in Maine’s three-way governor’s race.
The petition on the progressive Moveon.org website was launched by Steven Biel of Portland on May 16 – the same day King endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins over Democrat Shenna Bellows.
“Senator King: You showed your independence by endorsing Republican Susan Collins for U.S. Senate. Now you can do it again by endorsing Democrat Mike Michaud for governor,” the petition states.
The petition is seeking 750 signatories.
King had previously sworn off endorsements after his two terms as governor. However, he endorsed independent Eliot Cutler late in the 2010 election. Cutler, who lost to Republican Gov. Paul LePage by less than 2 percentage points, told the Press Herald in October that he hoped King would support him in 2014.
King told the Press Herald after the Collins endorsement that he has not decided whether to make an endorsement in the gubernatorial election. He said it was too early in the race to make a decision, an explanation that didn’t quite jibe with his Collins endorsement but could be explained by the fact that he probably doesn’t want to back the wrong guy in May for what’s expected to be a white-knuckle contest through November.
– Randy Billings
Open Season is a compilation of Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram political blogs, Open Season and Capitol Ticker. Press Herald/Telegram staff writers Steve Mistler, Randy Billings, Eric Russell, Kevin Miller and Matt Byrne and Kennebec Journal reporter Michael Shepherd contribute to the blogs.