DSCC makes ad buy in Maine Senate race, despite not endorsing Democratic nominee

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) made a large ad buy in the Maine Senate race, which will go toward attacking Republican candidate Charlie Summers.

Politico first reported the $410,000 ad buy, which reserved airtime from Oct. 2 through Oct. 12.

The buy comes in the wake of a Public Policy Polling poll that showed Summers gaining ground in the wake of significant ad buys from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Maine race has put Democrats in a somewhat uncomfortable position from the start. It’s a three-way race, with former Gov. Angus King running as an independent. A popular former governor, King was the frontrunner from the start. He is expected to caucus with Democrats if elected, though he has declined to say so for sure, and his entrance into the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe drove out stronger Democratic candidates, leaving state Sen. Cynthia Dill as the party’s nominee.

King is the far stronger liberal candidate — Dill has yet to raise enough money to be able to run ads on television — but it would be difficult for the Democratic campaign arm to endorse another candidate over their own party’s nominee. So national Democrats — and the DSCC in particular — have mostly stayed silent in the race, declining to endorse Dill or throw any funding her way, in a tacit nod of support for King.

A statement from DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil portrayed the ad buy as an attack on Summers, making no mention of either Dill or King.

“When Republican extremism forced Olympia Snowe to retire from the Senate, it presented a significant challenge to [Republican Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and the Republicans,” Cecil said. “Republican special interests have now spent $2 million boosting a candidate who is fundamentally out of step with the state. Charlie Summers is an anti-choice Tea Partier, who supports eliminating the Department of Education, privatizing Social Security, protecting tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and ending Medicare as we know it. Charlie Summers should not be in the United States Senate and it is time every Mainer knows it.”

The NRSC attacked their Democratic counterpart for the inconsistency of playing in a race where they have actively avoided supporting their party’s nominee.

“It’s remarkable to see national Democrats now spending money in a state where they refuse to even endorse their own nominee,” Executive Director Rob Jesmer said in a statement. “Now that they are spending almost a half-million dollars in Maine, the DSCC should make clear who they are supporting — the Democratic nominee or the candidate that the State Democratic Party chairman said today cannot be trusted.”

The last statement refers to a Friday column in the Portland Press Herald by Ben Grant, the chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, in which Grant questioned why Maine Democrats would vote for someone who he said could easily decide to caucus with Republicans if elected.

“This only confirms what we already knew,” said Drew Brandewie, Spokesman for Summers’ campaign. “Charlie’s message of low taxes, less spending and balanced budgets is resonating with Mainers and this race is only going to get tighter.”

The DSCC, King campaign, and Dill campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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