Report: National Republicans to spend $500,000 on ads in Maine Senate race

AUGUSTA, Maine — The arm of the national Republican party focused on electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate is making its first major foray into the race for Maine’s open Senate seat with the purchase of $500,000 in television and radio ads set to begin airing this week.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will air Maine Senate campaign ads over the next two weeks that are designed to help Republican Charlie Summers, the Washington, D.C., publication National Journal reported Monday.

A Republican party source confirmed to the Bangor Daily News that the NRSC is planning the $500,000 ad buy. Still, many details about the ad campaign weren’t yet available Monday, including whether the TV and radio spots would be positive publicity for Summers, negative spots targeting independent former Gov. Angus King or ads encouraging Democrats to back state Sen. Cynthia Dill over King.

Republican-aligned forces have spent much of the summer attacking King, who has so far led in all polls.

Representatives from two television stations in the Portland market said Monday they didn’t yet have the ad purchases in their systems, but that the NRSC ad would start airing on one of the stations Thursday.

The $500,000 campaign makes it the biggest ad buy yet by an outside group in the campaign for Maine’s Senate seat. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a $400,000 campaign this summer targeting King. More recently, a group with Republican ties — called Maine Freedom — has aired ads encouraging Democrats to choose Cynthia Dill over King. The group has spent $249,000 so far on those ads.

In addition, Summers and King both released campaign ads of their own last week, but didn’t disclose how much they were spending on the TV spots.

Summers campaign spokesman Drew Brandewie said the NRSC ads, which he hadn’t seen, are a sign the Republican’s campaign is gaining momentum.

“It’s clear Charlie’s message is resonating,” he said in an email. “Mainers have a very distinct choice this November between liberal Democrat Cynthia Dill, ambiguous independent Angus King and a small business conservative in Charlie Summers.”

King campaign spokeswoman Crystal Canney said, “If they’re in keeping with what we’ve seen in the past, they’re going to be negative ads protecting the status quo. It’s one of the reasons Washington is broken, and that needs to change.”

A spokeswoman for Dill declined to comment before seeing the ad.

The National Journal reported that Maine will be only the third state, after Montana and North Dakota, where the NRSC has so far aired advertising this campaign cycle.