The campaign of independent Eliot Cutler has released a new ad that touts U.S. Sen. Angus King’s endorsement.

The 30-second spot relies on footage taken during an Aug. 18 news conference in Portland, at which King announced that Cutler is the best choice to become Maine’s next governor. Images of King speaking at a podium are interspersed with shots of Cutler, two of which show him clutching his chin in thoughtful repose.

The ad, which debuted Tuesday, opens with the No. 1 issue on many voter’s minds — the economy. King says, “We need a 21st-century governor for a 21st-century economy.” The backing music is at turns contemplative and dramatic.

As King explains why Cutler is “the best of the three” — the other two being Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud — key phrases flash on the screen. He’s “creative.” He has “ideas.” He’s able to “think differently.” He’s a “problem solver.”

The ad is available on Cutler’s Facebook page. Cutler spokeswoman Crystal Canney said Wednesday the ad will be running in all markets.

The ad appeared on the same day that Maine Republicans released a secret recording of Democratic state Sen. Geoff Gratwick telling a voter that Michaud is “not a brain guy” and that he prefers Cutler because he is “brighter.” Gratwick released a statement Tuesday saying his remarks were taken out of context and that he supports Michaud “200 percent.”

It also follows a new poll by the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports showing Cutler’s support locked in at 15 percent, while Michaud continues to maintain a small lead over LePage, 43 percent to 39 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of error.

The Cutler campaign is hoping the endorsement by King, who had a 66 percent approval rating in a June poll conducted for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram by the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, will help him climb in the polls.

— Randy Billings


Candidates for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District took to the airwaves this week, re-introducing themselves to voters on television after Labor Day unofficially marked the start of a more active push to November.

Republican Bruce Poliquin’s ad debuted Tuesday in the Bangor and Presque Isle markets and Democrat Emily Cain followed on Wednesday, according to online filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The ads are positive. In a minutelong biographical spot similar to one he ran in this year’s primary, Poliquin, a former state treasurer from Oakland, highlights his family life and fiscal conservatism.

There’s one notable difference between the version of the ad he used in the primary and this one, however: He omitted a picture of himself with Republican Gov. Paul LePage and one of the narrator’s closing lines in the primary ad, which called Poliquin “a conservative opposing higher taxes.”

He won his primary by running to the right of opponent Kevin Raye, and this could be an attempt to move toward the middle to defeat Cain in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor. Independent conservative Blaine Richardson, of Belfast, is also in the 2nd District race.

In her ad, Cain sticks to her primary message, saying she will “stay at the table” to negotiate with Republicans so “we can get things done.”

She does give Democratic voters some catnip, saying she would vote to raise the minimum wage. Cain has been saying that a lot lately, particularly after a recent report from Oxfam, an anti-poverty group that said 23.5 percent of workers in the 2nd District — the highest percentage in any congressional district in New England — would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $10.10.

Still, the ads’ greatest effects will be based on who sees them, and Poliquin’s initial purchase is far bigger than Cain’s. Forms available Wednesday say he bought nearly $23,700 in airtime through Oct. 5, while Cain bought $3,400 on three stations through Sept. 15.

— Michael Shepherd


U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud broke ranks Tuesday with Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to support a resolution condemning President Barack Obama for failing to notify Congress of a June prisoner exchange of five Taliban prisoners for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowie Bergdahl, who had been held captive for nearly five years in Afghanistan.

The Hill political blog noted Tuesday that the resolution “offered vulnerable Democrats in tough re-election races an opportunity to distance themselves from Obama.”

Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor in Maine, was one of 22 Democratic lawmakers to join House Republicans in the 249-163 vote condemning the president.

Recent polling shows Michaud hanging on to a small lead against Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has been a vocal critic of Obama and his policies. Independent Eliot Cutler is trailing in a distant third place.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree voted against the resolution, but her 1st District seat is considered safe against a relatively unknown Republican challenger, Isaac Misiuk.

Obama’s favorability and job approval ratings remain upside down, according to polling averages by Real Clear Politics. Nearly 54 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s performance on the job, while 51 percent have an unfavorable view of the president.

Although Mainers have voted for Obama twice — 55 percent in 2012 and 58 percent in 2008, the president remains unpopular here, too. According to a June poll conducted for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram by the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, 49 percent of Mainers disapprove of Obama, while only 44 percent approve.

Michaud’s campaign spokeswoman, Lizzy Reinholt, said Michaud votes the way he thinks is right.

“When he agrees with the president, he supports him; and when he thinks the president is wrong, he lets him know,” Reinholt said. “For example, he stood up to the administration and was determined to force the (Defense Department) to follow the law on American-made athletic footwear and ensure that military uniforms are 100 percent American made. There was major friction with the administration on that issue and on trade.

“But when it comes to agreeing with the president, he’s just as vocal,” Reinholt said. “For example, Mike strongly supports expanding access to Medicaid, which would expand access to 70,000 people, including 3,000 veterans.”

Michaud’s congressional spokesman, Dan Rafter, said Michaud’s vote “had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the congressman’s long-held belief that the president must consult with Congress when making decisions that impact our national security.” He has taken similar stances on congressional consultation with regard to Libya and the Islamic State, known as ISIS, Rafter noted.

“Members of Congress — as the elected representatives of the people — should have both a voice and advance notice as required by law when it comes to these matters,” Rafter said in an email. “Ultimately, the Congressman concurred with a recent (Government Accountability Office) report that found some aspects of the transfer of the five detainees were not carried out in compliance with the law.”

— Randy Billings

Campaign Notebook is a compilation of the 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.