Angus King’s money was one of the top story lines in Maine’s U.S. Senate race last week.

Cynthia Dill tried to turn King’s wealth against him in a couple of debates Thursday. She also took some jabs at his age and gender, saying the real problem with Congress isn’t partisan gridlock after all, it’s old, rich white guys.

Dill is a 47-year-old self-employed lawyer with a modest income. King is a 68-year-old millionaire and former governor.

The Maine Republican Party, meanwhile, issued a news release accusing King of paying a lower effective tax rate than Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Ouch. The implication seems to be that if you pay a lower rate than Romney, you’re either a slacker or you have a really great accountant.

Of course, the release didn’t mention that Charlie Summers, the Republican who King is actually running against, paid a far lower effective rate than either King or Romney.

Summers paid 7.9 percent of his family’s 2011 adjusted gross income ($102,583) in federal income tax.

King paid 13.8 percent of his 2011 adjusted gross income ($490,486).

Romney paid 14.1 percent of his ($13.7 million).

King didn’t talk much about his money last week, but joked that selling his energy business for millions of dollars in 1994 didn’t change him.

“The first thing Mary and I did with our newfound wealth was to buy vinyl siding for the house,” he said, referring to his wife, Mary Herman. “I was just tired of painting the damn thing.”

Gamers raise their shields

According to Wikipedia, there are roughly 9.1 million subscribers to the online video game World of Warcraft. So it makes sense that some folks in that community are going to hear about the Maine Republican Party mailer and press statement criticizing Democratic state Senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz for playing the game and using her character, Santiaga, to make “crude, vicious and violent comments” about Republicans.

So what are the folks who play World of Warcraft saying? Here’s one example: “Phacia,” a human priest character in the game, wrote, “I hear you can’t be a professional and play an (massively multiplayer online game) … oh wait! Didn’t I hear about an EVE Online player dying in a US embassy not too long ago?

“Honestly, I know more people that lose their jobs, fail school, or have family problems because of more serious issues than ‘playing an MMO.’ I agree that MMOs can eat up a lot of time if you are not careful, but most responsible people will know how to prioritize. If they don’t know how to prioritize, then I doubt MMOs are their only problem.”

Regarding Phacia’s reference to an EVE Online player dying in a U.S. embassy: That’s true. Sean Smith was one of four U.S. State Department officials who were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya on Sept. 11. Smith, whose gamer nickname was “Vile Rat,” was apparently a prolific gamer.

According to this report on CNN, Smith, an Air Force veteran, was “one of the leaders of a gamers’ alliance renowned for his diplomatic skill in the multi-player space warfare simulation.”

Question 1 seen as critical

In a conference call with pastors Wednesday, conservative political consultant Frank Schubert called Maine’s vote on gay marriage “very critical” because if it passes here, gay activists in other states will go directly to voters.

“For the first time in history, gay activists have gone to the ballot themselves,” he said, according to the audio of the call posted on Good As You, a gay website. “If they are successful, this will open up a whole new front in the marriage battle nationally. It’s a very critical fight in Maine.”

Carroll Conley of Protect Marriage Maine gave a quick overview of the issue here and said he’s concerned that if gay marriage passes, it could encourage the Supreme Court to look favorably on it when it considers two cases next year. He also said he was “encouraged here in Maine” because pastors are giving sermons on marriage and have a lot of influence in small towns.

Bangor race reaps cash

It was apparent before, but now it’s official: The battle for state Senate District 32 in Bangor is on.

Recent filings with the state ethics commission show that the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC is spending $72,919 on television ads attacking Democratic candidate Geoffrey Gratwick.

Republican PACs have already been sending mailers in the district, as have Democratic-aligned groups.

The Republican buy signals that a lot of money will be directed to the race to influence its outcome.

The Maine Democratic Party announced that it was filing an ethics complaint against Senate District 32 GOP candidate Nichi Farnham, its second.

The party argued that because Farnham receives public financing and controls the spending decisions of the Republican PAC now attacking her opponent, she has violated the Maine Clean Elections Act.

The law prohibits publicly financed candidates from making independent expenditures on their own race.

Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, said the violation is “egregious.”

“Nichi Farnham clearly doesn’t understand the law, or she doesn’t care,” Grant said in a statement.

Later, James Cote, a consultant for the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC, issued a statement saying that Farnham’s involvement with the group was an “administrative error.”

Cote said that he had documents to prove that Farnham was not involved with the PAC.

S. Donald Sussman, the majority owner of the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, has made significant donations to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.

Steve Mistler — 791-6345
[email protected]
Twitter: @stevemistler

John Richardson — 791-6324
[email protected]

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