The Maine League of Young Voters has released its slate of political endorsements, ranging from President Barack Obama to Nisha Swinton for the Portland Water District Board of Trustees.

It did not pick a favorite in the race for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat. None of the candidates qualified, according to state director Nicola Wells.

“We had concerns about all of the candidates and couldn’t, with one resounding voice, endorse any one of them,” Wells said.

The League takes its endorsements seriously, asking candidates to answer detailed questionnaires and then conducting follow-up interviews.

In the Senate contest, Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill and independent candidates Angus King and Andrew Ian Dodge answered the questionnaire and were interviewed. Republican Charlie Summers and independent candidates Steve Woods and Danny Dalton did not respond and were therefore ineligible.

The League is a nonpartisan group, but almost all of its endorsements this year went to Democratic candidates, which might seem to have given Dill an edge. (The league endorsed Dill’s rival, Matthew Dunlap, in the Democratic primary.)

The non-endorsement of Dill comes after the progressive Democrat was passed up earlier this month by the Sierra Club, which endorsed King. Dill, of course, has not even been getting support from the national Democratic Party these days for fear that she will split the vote with King and help elect Summers.

Wells would not go into detail about why Dill and the other candidates did not qualify for an endorsement, but she said it was because none of them adequately addressed the concerns and issues of the league’s members, not because the league made any strategic decision to stay out of the race.

“At this point, none of the candidates really passed that threshold for us, but we look forward to hearing more from the candidates between now and and November,” she said.

The league will not endorse any more candidates between now and November, she said, but it will post more information online.

Wells said the reason for the League’s non-endorsement will be made clearer Tuesday when it posts the questionnaires and interviews on its website.

Some gays in Maine ads

An Associated Press story these newspapers ran Thursday raises the question of whether gay-marriage campaigns across the country have shied away from using gay people in their ads.

The story, with a Minneapolis dateline, says “gay people speaking for themselves” are missing from the airwaves in the four states that will vote on gay marriage this year (Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington). It quotes a fundraising consultant who says that the “tough guys we need to flip” may still “say that gays are gross.”

What’s happened in Maine?

So far, Mainers United for Marriage has run two ads. One features a straight minister and his wife expressing support, and the other shows a group of volunteer firefighters, including one who identifies himself as gay, saying they, too, will vote “yes” on Question 1.

In addition, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders have run two ads, including one that features a lesbian couple sitting at a family dinner table. A World War II veteran who is the father of one of the women says he supports gay marriage. The other ad shows a straight couple talking about their support for gay marriage because they have a gay son.

In Maine, it appears the ads are 50/50 when it comes to showing openly gay people. With more ads on the way — including the first ads from opponents, which are scheduled to air in early October — it will be interesting to see how both campaigns try to influence voters as we barrel toward the Nov. 6 election.

Marriage essay draws response

Mainers United for Marriage, the lead group in support of same-sex marriage in Maine, released a briefing memo Thursday to fight back against incorrect information being distributed by a splinter opposition group.

In recent weeks, the Portland Daily Sun and the Bangor Daily News have run a commentary from Erick Bennett, a political strategist who runs the Maine Equal Rights Center, a political action committee that opposes gay marriage.

In the commentary, he claims that “same-sex couples have been able to join together in legal matrimony in Maine for eight years with the same rights and benefits of everyone else.”

In the Daily Sun, his piece was titled “Same-sex Marriage’s Ties to Socialism.” The Bangor Daily News has since run a correction to state that the opinion piece should have said that same-sex couples “have not been able to join together in legal matrimony.”

David Farmer, spokesman for Mainers United, released a lengthy memo in response to Bennett’s column, saying that not only are gay and lesbian couples barred from marrying in Maine, but there’s also no provision for civil unions.

A story this newspaper ran weeks ago explained the differences.

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United, said in the memo that “in form and function, domestic partnerships do not have the same meaning or protections that come with civil marriage.”

“Parents don’t dream of the day that their children will enter into a binding legal contract or have their domestic partnership papers filed,” he said in the statement. “They dream of the day their children will marry the person they love and begin a life together, with all of the responsibilities and jobs that come with marriage.”

Reverse psychology?

The Maine Republican Party appears to be getting into the reverse psychology game, judging by a mailer provided by a couple of readers — one an enrolled Democrat, another a young unenrolled voter.

On the surface, the ad appears to be a take-down of Cynthia Dill, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

David Sorensen, the Maine Republican Party’s communications director, wrote via text message that the mailer was designed to warn “all voters” about how liberal Dill is.

However, some of the language used here suggests the ad could have the opposite effect. Check out a few of the phrases:

* “Democrat Dill: There’s no second-guessing where she stands. …”

Subtext: She’s not like independent candidate Angus King, who hasn’t said which party he’ll caucus with.

* “Supports marriage equality”

Opponents of same-sex marriage don’t call it “marriage equality,” a term that implies that denying gays the right to marry is to deny them the same rights as everyone else.

* Under the tag “Tree-Hugging environmentalist,” the mailer includes this quote from Dill, “(Republican Charlie) Summers and King support the Keystone XL Pipeline. I don’t. Excavating one of the world’s dirtiest fuels, tar sands oil, and transporting the toxic revenue through America, to be shipped overseas, is an enormous environmental risk.”

Typically the best way to criticize a candidate’s opposition to a development project doesn’t include allowing them to talk at length about “world’s dirtiest fuels” and “environmental risks.” If the goal was to illustrate why opposing Keystone is wrong, why not talk about polls that support it and the number jobs supporters say it will create?

* Under a Portland Press Herald banner, the headline that says “Cynthia Dill: U.S. Senate campaign is a challenge against fear.”

The criticism here is that Dill is courageous?

Remember: It’s in Republicans’ best interest to help, not hurt, Dill, whose increased support can erode King’s lead in the race. That this mailer was sent to registered Democrats suggests that it was designed to dovetail with efforts by two national Republican groups to divide the support between Dill and King to give Summers a better chance at victory.

Susan Cover — 621-5643

[email protected]

John Richardson — 791-6324

[email protected]

Steve Mistler — 791-6345

[email protected]

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