The Maine candidates for Senate traded blows as the race for the seat intensified this week. The current senator, Olympia Snowe (R) is not running for re-election, leaving three candidates to step up to replace her. Cynthia Dill (D), Charlie Summers (R), and Angus King (Independent) are running in a unique political environment, which has recently been complicated by their cutthroat campaigns.
According to IVN's description page on Maine:
"Maine is a swing state with an independent streak. The Pine Tree state has had two independent governors in recent US history and its voters tend to be more accepting of third party and independent candidates than most other states. Indicating its unique political outlook, Maine tends to vote for Democratic presidents, but both its US Senators as of 2012 are Republicans..."
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a series of ads attacking former Maine governor and current Independent senatorial candidate, Angus King, and Republican nominee Charlie Summers. The Committee reportedly spent $410,000 to produce and run the ads in hopes of denting King's popularity among Maine voters.
The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee also released ads against King, to which he responded in a press release on September 24th. The former governor called on local TV stations to remove the ads, based on his testimony that the ads contain erroneous information intentionally doctored to smear his reputation as a public official. King appeared solemn and serious, and even threatened legal action. The ad featured residents of a local town claiming that King made millions of dollars in profit off of a wind turbine program that he had supported.
Just minutes before King's press conference to address the negative ads, Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill released a statement of her own, calling on both her opponents to release their past tax returns, as she had done. In the written statement, Dill claimed:
"This united effort will give Maine voters greater insight into our backgrounds, full knowledge of our finances, and a deeper understanding of who we are as candidates to the highest elected federal office in the state."
All three candidates have a long history of public service in Maine. King, despite not being affiliated with a major party, has a strong foothold in the Pine State, having served as governor from 1994 to 2003. Cynthia Dill served as a state senator for 3 terms and is known mainly for her work in labor issues. Despite being the only Democratic candidate running, Dill has yet to receive official backing from the Democratic party in her nomination. Charlie Summers is the Secretary of State of Maine, and has received the official nomination of the Republican party to run for the Maine senate seat. He complied with Dill's call to release past tax returns.
Maine's senate race is heating up, yet the focus on real issues is being lost amongst the mudslinging between the three candidates. All three nominees will need to turn their attention back to voters as the November 6th election quickly approaches, or they risk alienating themselves from their voter base.