June 20, 2018
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New anti-King attack ad set to air Sunday

By Scott Thistle, Sun Journal

The second in a series of television ads, bought by a Washington, D.C.-based, Republican-backed political action committee attacking Maine U.S. Senate candidate Angus King will begin over the long Labor Day weekend.

Maine Freedom, the D.C.-based super PAC that spent $68,750 on an ad supporting Cynthia Dill, the Democrat in the race, has poured another $68,750 into the race by purchasing television ads attacking King.

An attempt to reach the treasurer of the Maine Freedom PAC, Michael Adams, was not successful Friday.

The ads are expected to be oppositional in nature, based on records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

At least $25,000 of the new round of advertising will be spent on television spots, many during prime time or peppered around popular morning and evening news shows on Portland NBC affiliate WCSH, a review of public records at the station’s Portland headquarters showed.

The ads are set to run from Monday, Sept. 3, to Sunday, Sept. 9. They aim to benefit Republican candidate Charlie Summers, Maine’s secretary of state.

Summers has been polling a distant second to King, a former Maine governor, but Summers’ campaign has noted in messages sent to party members soliciting donations that internal polls show him gaining.

“Our polling shows Charlie gaining fast, and as we head into Labor Day, we’ve got this race closer than we’d planned by now,” Summers’ campaign manager Lance Dutson wrote in a message to supporters. “Angus has spent twice as much money as we have, and his lead has been cut by 17 points. He keeps shoveling money into his campaign, but it’s not helping. The more he spends, the worse his numbers get.”

The Maine Freedom ads are the second attacking King that are sponsored by an entity outside Summers’ campaign and outside Maine.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is not affiliated with the Maine State Chamber, spent $400,000 on television advertising during the Olympics to attack King’s record as governor.

In June, King challenged the other Senate campaigns in Maine to shun super PAC spending by adopting a practice of donating to charity an equal amount whenever a super PAC spent on a campaign’s behalf.

Dill’s campaign said it was willing but then wanted to negotiate additional terms to the agreement, including limiting individual campaign donations to $500 and banning candidates from spending on their own campaigns.

“We clearly stated this proposal would only work if all the candidates agreed to reject super PAC money, not just one or two,” said Crystal Canney, a spokeswoman for King’s campaign. “Charlie Summers publicly indicated he wasn’t interested. After the U.S. Chamber of Commerce negative television ad buy of nearly a half-million dollars, it’s clear why.”

Dutson said Friday that King’s proposal was “kind of laughable,” given King’s strong lead in the polls at the time and his unwillingness to limit personal spending on the campaign.

King used more than $1 million of his money to fund his first gubernatorial campaign, Dutson said.

“Why should one wealthy individual be allowed to spend more than $1 million of his own money to become the governor of Maine?” Dutson asked.

Canney said Friday that King, so far, has loaned his campaign $37,500 for the purchase of laptop computers. “But it’s made very clear that’s only a loan,” Canney said.

Dutson also said Summers’ campaign has fundamental objections about limiting the First Amendment right of free speech.

Dutson had not seen the new Maine Freedom ad, he said. He and Canney said that without seeing the ad’s content, they couldn’t comment further.

King’s campaign has not begun its television advertising but plans to launch its own set of video advertising that will be displayed on the websites of the state’s largest newspapers, including the Sun Journal, beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5.

In the 14-second spot, King talks about his campaign’s work so far.

“People say the political season begins on Labor Day,” King says in the ad. “But I’ve been traveling Maine and talking to people all summer. We are working on taking Maine’s independent spirit to Washington.”

Dylan Martin, a staff writer with the Forecaster newspaper group, contributed to this report.

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