A week before the election, the Republican Governors Association puts out ad touting Cutler

Gov. Christie and Gov. LePage at Christie's third Maine visit for LePage's reelection. Photo credit: Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal

Gov. Christie and Gov. LePage at Christie’s third Maine visit for LePage’s reelection. Photo credit: Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal

Today New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is having his fourth Maine visit to support Gov. LePage’s reelection — although again these men aren’t holding a rally anyone can attend.

Instead they’ll do a meet and greet with some voters at Quirk Auto Park in Bangor and then have a fundraiser. This is quite a contrast to the open events Michaud’s campaign has had with high profile visitors such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama and, soon, President Obama.

Christie comes back to Maine as the organization he heads, the Republican Governors Association, is running a tv ad for Eliot Cutler. 

You can see it this link, where national reporter Chuck Todd writes:

3-way races create strange bedfellows, RGA’s latest TV ad tries to boost Cutler to keep the anti-LePage vote split.

Sure, the ad attacks Michaud as well. But its comparison is to Cutler.

LePage is never mentioned. You can see that the RGA paid for the ad in small letters at the end.

As reporter Daniel Strauss puts it:

If a new ad is any indication, the Republican Governors Association wants to focus on Maine Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Mike Michaud than Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

Before this tv ad from the RGA, the Maine Republican Party paid for and distributed pro-Cutler flyers.

The ad comes as the race is tied between Michaud and LePage, with Cutler far behind.

Moreover, in the new Pan-Atlantic poll, Cutler fell 7 percentage points as Michaud gained 6 points. Michaud appears to be picking up voters from Cutler.

Along with other recently released polls, this adds up to a tied race, as seen in one leading poll aggregator.

2014 Maine Governors race polls. See all polls at http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2014-maine-governor-lepage-vs-michaud-vs-cutler

2014 Maine Governors race polls. See all polls at http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2014-maine-governor-lepage-vs-michaud-vs-cutler

At this point, Republicans are doing more and more to try to split the anti-LePage vote.

Update: Sen. Angus King, whose endorsement of Cutler is included in the ad, has weighed in, saying, “I think these ads aren’t honest. They’re trying to promote one candidate when they’re really trying to promote someone else. It’s a left-handed way of campaigning. … I just think it’s one more indication of where our politics has gone. We can’t have an open and honest discussion of the issues. Instead we’re trying to trick people.”

It’s also interesting that while Michaud has had multiple visitors from away, LePage has had only one – Christie. Why?

As mentioned already, Christie is coming as part of his job as the head of the Republican Governors Association. Sure, there are things these men have in common, including temperamental similarities. And of course they’re both Republicans.

Also Christie may be running for president and media coverage in Maine and nearby New Hampshire could be helpful for his primary prospects. By the way, polls show him 9-10 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton, a recent visitor for Michaud, in a 2016 general election match-up.

So why are other Republicans not coming?

Some are not suited for Maine’s politics. For example, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is far, far to the right and could turn off moderate voters.

But more moderate Republicans haven’t shown up — with the exception of the RGA’s Christie. While President George H.W. Bush put out a press release endorsing LePage, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has not dropped by to add his voice.

When I talked to a politically savvy Republican friend about this, it was suggested that many national Republicans in synch with Maine’s moderate general electorate might not want to be linked to the fiery, far-right LePage.

What do you think?

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.