RGA tops $2M in spending for LePage as Michaud also gets major outside media buy

Political parties and political action committees dumped a collective $770,000 into media buys, ads, and canvassing from Friday to Sunday, targeting specific races in the Maine House and Senate and making major media buys for negative ads against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democrat Mike Michaud.

The vast majority of the spending over the weekend went to media buys in the governor’s race, with the Maine Forward political action committee on Friday dumping about $355,282 to support Michaud and oppose LePage. On the same day, the Republican Governors Association put $319,732 into a similar mix of media buys to support LePage and oppose Michaud.

Both ad buys were from production companies in the Washington, D.C. metro area. It brings Maine Forward’s total media spending in the race to about $1.8 million and RGA Maine’s spending so far to more than $2.3 million. A source with knowledge of the RGA’s plans for this upcoming election told the Bangor Daily News in August that the group plans to spend more than $3 million in Web and TV ads for LePage this year.

The latest batch of spending brings the total of independent expenditures in the race to about $6.83 million, far above the more than $4 million spent by outside groups in 2010.

Spending for those ad buys made up almost 90 percent of the expenditures over the weekend, with the election one month away and the Democratic and Republican candidates in a tight race, according to the latest polling. It also comes in advance of the first debate of the campaign, on Wednesday.

Most of the other weekend spending went to mailers, canvassing and radio advertisements for state House and Senate candidates. The Maine Democratic State Committee spent the most on legislative races over the weekend, putting about $26,694 into mailers to support 24 House candidates. That’s about 8.5 percent of what the committee had spent up to that point.

The Maine Republican Party spent less than Democrats on legislative races over the weekend, putting $15,850 into a mix of support and opposition ads for Senate candidates and another $8,945 into a mailer opposing gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud.

Planned Parenthood Maine’s PAC also put another $9,000 into state races, attacking Republican Rep. Amy Volk in her Senate bid against James Boyle and Republican challenger Patricia Gagne, who’s hoping to win the seat of outgoing Democratic Sen. Margaret Craven, who represents Lewiston.

That PAC is among the most active so far in this election cycle. According to records from the Maine Ethics Commission, RGA Maine led the list of political party and political action committees for independent expenditures before the weekend. In order, the RGA is followed in spending by: Maine Forward, the Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund, the NextGen Climate Action Committee, the Maine Republican Party, the Maine Democratic State Committee and Planned Parenthood.

For online access to the independent expenditures in state races, the Maine Ethics Commission uploads the documents to a special web page. Political party and political action committees are required to report any independent expenditures supporting or opposing a candidate within 48 hours of the expenditure.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.