CALAIS, MAINE - Independent gubernatorial candidate Terry Hayes is currently contending with negative campaigning against her, orchestrated by the Maine Republican Party. But not all Republicans are on board with the party's actions.
State Senator Joyce Maker from Washington County came out Wednesday in defense of Hayes and condemned her own party for resorting to negative campaign tactics.
“I just want to say that Terry Hayes is real and has kept her message positive and has not used negativity against her opponent(s)," said Maker.
"I need to clarify that I am a Republican and I also know this is done by all parties but was very disappointed to see the Maine Republican Party pay for negative campaigning against Terry. Negative campaigning to me is a result of people running scared and it is so unnecessary. Now is the time for all of us to tape our shows and delete all campaigning spots and start doing our job in electing our next person in whatever position they are running for."
The Maine Republican Party released an ad Tuesday that the Hayes campaign says makes false claims about her "centrist record as a no-nonsense, non-partisan leader in Augusta."
Hayes responded to the ad, saying:
“Maine politics has become all about partisan fighting and keeping score. I’m running for governor to offer Mainers a better choice. I have never participated in a negative ad, and I never will.”
The negative ad's timing came just as the Hayes campaign released new survey results that show Republican Shawn Moody slipping in the polls just weeks before the election.
According to a new survey conducted by Slingshot Strategies, Mills is leading the three-person race with 41%, Moody is at 33% (down 6 points from August), and Hayes is at 10% (up 6 points).
In a phone conversation with Hayes' campaign manager, Kyle Bailey, he told me that the campaign is getting positive responses from many Republican voters, voters who said they were originally committed to Moody, but once they heard about Hayes, changed their mind or were now considering voting for her instead.
Bailey says Hayes has a record of working with Republican policymakers and a Republican governor "in keeping Maine's fiscal house in order." She became the first independent state treasurer of Maine with support from Republican and Democratic legislators.
"Hayes is the only candidate who can bring together Republicans, pro-business Democrats, and independents," said Bailey.
In her remarks Wednesday, Maker said she had not decided who she was going to support in the governor's race, "but negative campaigning against others won't help my decision -- it may make it easier.”
Interesting to note, according to Kyle Bailey, Hayes is exactly where independent Eliot Cutler was in the 2010 gubernatorial election at this point in the race. Cutler was narrowly defeated by Republican Paul LePage by less than two percentage points in the election.
The Slingshot Strategies survey also found Hayes was the second choice for over half of Maine voters -- including 57% of Republicans and 48% of Democrats. Further, 66% of Maine voters believe more independents need to be elected to statewide office.
What does this mean for the Hayes campaign? With just weeks before Election Day, it means that the Maine gubernatorial race could become much more competitive as voters make their final decisions.