A recent multimillion-dollar ad blitz in support of Republican candidates in U.S. House races has one notable omission: Kevin Raye’s bid for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

For the past two weeks, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent more than $11.4 million in ad campaigns in 40 congressional districts in 20 states, according to federal records.

The ads are focusing on only a fraction of all races — less than 10 percent of the country’s 435 congressional districts — but there’s a twist. More than half of those races involve members of the committee’s so-called Young Guns, a group of strong House candidates to which Raye belongs.

Observers say a lack of such advertising could indicate that national party officials think Raye’s bid against five-term Democratic incumbent Mike Michaud is out of reach.

The fact that the Republican House arm didn’t put any money into the 2nd District “even though Raye’s been on the Young Guns list for a while — I think that tells us something,” said Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine. “It makes you wonder what’s going on in the race. They were pretty enthusiastic at the outset — Raye’s a tough challenger, there’s no doubt about that. They moved him up on the list, but they haven’t put any money there.”

The national committee didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Raye’s team began airing its second TV ad. The ad airs on Bangor, Portland and Presque Isle stations, covering the state’s TV markets.

The 30-second spot features the owner of an aviation business, a former manager of a shipping port and an official at a pulp mill vouching for Raye’s accomplishments in the state Senate and his business-friendly outlook.

“Our first ad introduced Kevin Raye to the voters,” Raye campaign manager Robert Caverly said in a news release. “The second ad focuses on Kevin’s proven record as a leader who fights for jobs. As a small businessman himself, Kevin knows what it takes to create and preserve jobs and has spent his time in Augusta working to help other Maine employers succeed.”

Caverly on Tuesday shrugged off any suggestions that the National Republican Congressional Committee has cooled on Raye. It’s impossible to know whether the committee will air ads for Raye later in the season, because the committee would violate election laws if it shared that information, he said.

For now, the campaign is satisfied by its TV presence.

“We’ve been fortunate enough that we’ve had the resources to go up on TV and get our message out to people,” Caverly said.

Michaud is also on the Maine airwaves with his own ads, but he is not receiving TV ad support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to his campaign spokesman.

Earlier this year, the National Republican Congressional Committee named Raye as one of 38 notable candidates running for the House — a group called the Young Guns.

“These candidates have met a series of rigorous goals and established a clear path to victory through their ability to build a formidable campaign structure and achieve important goals and benchmarks. These candidates are the GOP’s best opportunities,” according to the committee’s website.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is “devoted to maintaining and increasing the 242-member Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to its website.

Of the 40 congressional districts where the committee’s ads are airing, Young Guns are campaigning in 21 districts. Of the 38 Young Guns, 55 percent are receiving media support from the committee.

The committee also hasn’t spent any ad money in Maine’s 1st District race between Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree and Republican challenger Jon Courtney, but Courtney was not singled out by the committee as a particularly strong challenger.

By contrast, the race for Maine’s open Senate seat — a three-way race between Democrat Cynthia Dill, independent Angus King and Republican Charlie Summers — has generated substantial ad campaigns from national groups.

“If you look at the Summers race and where the money is coming in, it tells you something must be good for Charlie Summers,” Brewer said. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce dumped in money twice. The Republican Senate Campaign Committee dumped some money in. That tells you something.”

Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said he’s surprised the committee hasn’t backed Raye on the airwaves yet, particularly because advertising in Maine’s television markets is relatively inexpensive compared to larger urban markets.

“There’s a lot about Raye that’s personally impressive — he’s well known in the district, he’s been senate president — so you can see why they put him on the Young Guns list,” Melcher said. “My hunch is Raye’s polling isn’t very encouraging, and there are a lot of other races the NRCC has to take care of.”

Three polls on the race during the last six months have shown double-digit leads for Michaud. The most recent poll results — released last week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, a nonprofit research organization affiliated with a liberal advocacy group — showed Michaud with 56 percent support, compared to 37 percent for Raye and 7 percent undecided.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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