AUGUSTA, Maine — Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler picked up endorsements from the Portland Press Herald and its two sister papers on Sunday in a contest that several recent polls suggest has become a three-way race.
But in Maine’s congressional races, the three newspapers threw their hats behind the two Republican candidates — Dean Scontras and Jason Levesque — challenging incumbent Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud.
Cutler, a lawyer and former White House staffer in the Carter administration, appears to be picking up momentum as Maine’s gubernatorial race approaches its final week.
A recent poll by the firm Critical Insights had Cutler battling for second place with Democrat Libby Mitchell. Republican Paul LePage continues to lead in most polls, however, by anywhere from a few percentage points to more than 10 percent.
Groups supporting Mitchell and LePage have also significantly increased their spending on anti-Cutler ads or campaign materials in recent weeks.
With the endorsement of the Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Waterville Sentinel, Cutler has won support from editorial boards and opinion-page writers from many of Maine’s largest newspapers, including the Bangor Daily News last week.
The editorial board members of the Maine Today Media chain that owns the Portland, Augusta and Waterville papers credited Cutler with outlining plans that are “thoughtful, logical and, most important, doable.”
The papers described Cutler as the only one of the five candidates with “the potential to bridge philosophical divides, heal political wounds and conquer daunting problems” facing the state.
“Cutler receives our endorsement because we believe he has leadership qualities that will enable him to transcend the self-focused concerns of any single political party and guide Maine and its people toward a brighter future,” the editorial stated.
The papers said LePage has “an admirable life story and a sterling fiscal record as mayor of Waterville” but that his temperament and focus on “doing less” harmed his candidacy.
Likewise, the papers called Mitchell “a candidate of distinction” with a long record of public service but questioned whether she would bring the change needed in government.
In addition to the BDN and the Maine Today Media papers, Cutler also has been endorsed by the Times Record of Brunswick and the Village Soup media network.
In endorsing the candidates for U.S. House, the Maine Today Media papers said Levesque had “fiscal zeal” and questioned incumbent 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud for what the papers said were party-line votes.
In the endorsement of Scontras, the papers cited his business-friendly stance, such as not supporting cap-and-trade, and his willingness for financial reform.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.