Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who was behind Maine's ugly 2010 campaign ads?

Maine's 2010 election was one of the ugliest in the state in memory, with negative -- and sometimes entirely false -- advertisements bombarding voters from both parties. In a state that's long prided itself of political civility, some of these ads backfired badly, particularly when voters could tell who had paid for them.

My Talk of Maine piece in the new issue of Down East explores the phenomenon and the forces behind it. Interviews with angry politicos from across the political spectrum -- many of them angry at their own party for taking the low road -- including former Gov. Angus King, state Senate President Kevin Raye, Independent candidate Eliot Cutler, and Maine Democratic National Committeeman Sam Spencer.

Monthly magazines have notoriously long lead times, and since the magazine went to press, the Democratic challenger in the Hancock County senate race I describe in the lead has sued the Republican State Leadership Committee for libel. The Portland Press Herald ran an editorial on the subject that I find entirely off base: just because something can be described as "political speech" doesn't put it above the law (though I suspect in this case the plaintiff may find it hard to show "damages.") Also, "voters" can't "decide" who is right: the RSLC wasn't on the ballot, and their actions were condemned by both candidates. Will be interesting to see what the courts think.

Also, the final campaign disclosures pushed the RGA Maine PAC's war chest to over $1.8 million, and their ad buys in the gubernatorial race to over $1 million.

More on money in Maine elections coming up very, very shortly....


  1. You're leaving out Don $u$$man... who bankrolled Pingree's campaign by laundering money through his employees AND by funding the so-called "independent" expenditures of groups like Vote Vets, Women's Voice Women's Votes, People for the American Way, etc.

  2. @Anonymous: No, I didn't leave out Sussman. Read the article again - he's right in the thick of it, and I report another $700,000 others have missed.

    I have to say, you're the third person reading this to miss this. I'm starting to wonder if some people just blot out information based on ideological leanings.