GOP mailer confuses some as to who is running in Belfast House race

The front of a flyer sent by the Maine Republican Party to residents of the Belfast-area state House district.
The front of a flyer sent by the Maine Republican Party to residents of the Belfast-area state House district.
Posted Aug. 24, 2012, at 3:26 p.m.
The back of a flyer sent by the Maine Republican Party to residents of the Belfast-area state House district.
The back of a flyer sent by the Maine Republican Party to residents of the Belfast-area state House district.

BELFAST, Maine — A flyer sent out by the Maine Republican Party to some registered voters in a Belfast-area legislative district has caused confusion by suggesting that a former representative is running again when in fact she is not.

The 8½-by-11-inch glossy mailer features the phrase “What A Difference One Year Can Make,” with photos of a horse and buggy on the left and a Ford Model T on the right, seeking to illustrate the differences between former Rep. Jayne Giles, a Republican who served in the 123rd and 124th Legislatures, and incumbent Democratic Rep. Erin Herbig.

The other side of the mailer features the phrase, “And what a difference a new state representative makes!,” and lists on the left a series votes by Giles in 2009 and 2010 with green checks, and on the right votes by Herbig in 2011 and 2012 with red X’s. Herbig served more recently than Giles has.

The flyer urges voters who favor “lower taxes, less regulation and government reform” to call Giles, and lists her home phone number. It also referred to Giles as “State Representative Jayne Giles.”

But Giles did not seek the seat in 2010, nor is she running this year. The Republican on the ballot this year who will face Herbig is Donna Hopkins of Belmont.

House District 43 includes Belfast, Northport and Belmont. Herbig was elected in 2010, defeating Belfast candidate Lewis Baker.

David Sorensen, a spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, said similar flyers were sent out in several targeted legislative districts, including Senate races, but would not say how many. The concept, he said, “was to contrast past Republican leaders with current Democratic leadership,” by noting that “your last state representative did this and that, and your current state representative did this and that.”

Sorensen called the publication of Giles’ home phone number “a clerical error.” He said “we’re sending out so many of these, that [errors] are getting by us.”

The flyer lists Giles’ votes in 2009 and 2010 against an expansion of the state sales tax, against a plan to tax health insurance services, and for a bill to allow residents to purchase health insurance from companies in other states.

On the right, the flyer claims Herbig voted in favor of a bill to tax home heating oil, against a bill that would have eliminated the tax on health insurance claims, and against a bill “that reformed Maine’s welfare programs.”

On Friday, Giles said the Maine Republican Party had not contacted her prior to sending out the flyer.

“No, they didn’t call me, but I wouldn’t expect they would call me on something like that,” she said.

“It was not problematic for me,” she said, because she believes as a former legislator, her record and name are in the public domain. And Giles did not object to her phone number being sent out, either, because it is published in phone books.

She did receive calls, though.

Some callers told her, “If you’re running, we’re behind you,” she said, while another told her he needed a ride to the polls. Still others wanted to share their concerns about property taxes and other issues. Giles said she didn’t mind, and in fact enjoyed the contact with former constituents, a part of the legislative job she enjoyed during her time in office.

Lizzy Reinholt, spokeswoman for the Maine Democratic Party, said she had received some calls from Democratic candidates about the mailings, but didn’t know about the extent of the GOP campaign. She did note in an email, however, that the GOP mailings in some districts criticized Democratic legislators who no longer hold office.

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