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Maine 2nd District Republicans Duke it Out in Attack Ads
05/20/2014   Reported By: A.J. Higgins

It may not have been the shot heard around the state, but the televised attack and counter-attack between GOP primary opponents Bruce Poliquin and Kevin Raye were definitely heard across the 2nd Congressional District. In a television spot that began running this weekend, Poliquin hit Raye with an accusation of being "a liberal." But Raye answered with his own ad that essentially accused Poliquin of being a carpet-bagging tax dodger. A.J. Higgins is ringside.

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With three weeks to go before the June 10 primary, the gloves have come off in Maine's 2nd Congressional District.

Audio from Poliquin Ad: "It's a liberal politician's tale. He says he's like us, but Kevin Raye made thousands working for Washington lobbyists."

The Poliquin ad then piles on more in just 30 seconds, taking swipes at Raye's record in the state Senate. Raye supporters, like former Republican gubernatorial candidate Les Otten, say the Poliquin ad against Raye is a clear distortion - especially when it attempts to characterize Raye as a supporter of the federal stimulus act.

Audio from Poliquin Ad: "Raye said Obama's $800 billion spending spree was a true stimulant, voted to keep Maine's death tax and to increase boat and hunting fees."

But Raye responded to what he called Poliquin's distortions of his record with his own 30-second ad that hit his opponent for using the state's tree growth tax law to escape paying full property tax rates on his $3.4 million oceanside Georgetown estate. Poliquin says he has since taken the property out of that tax program, but Raye says it's still fair game.

Audio from Raye Ad: "The Poliquin record? He got caught abusing the tree growth program to avoid paying property taxes on his oceanside estate in southern Maine."

Raye's ad then takes a swipe at Poliquin's efforts to characterize himself as a 2nd District denizen - although that's not a legal requirement for running for that office - after Poliquin said he would be spending more time at an Oakland camp his family has owned in the district.

This part of the ad features a "cute little baby" that just happens to be Raye's nephew:

Audio from Raye Ad: "And this cute little baby, he's lived in the 2nd District longer than Poliquin. Bruce Poliquin - not from here. Definitely not for us.""We believe that it is very important in this situation not to let that attack just sit out there, but rather to respond and to respond forcefully," Raye said.

In explaining why his campaign felt compelled to turn the tables on Poliquin, Raye says that his opponent's divisive approach had to be confronted, and that he would not allow himself to be defined by the distorted images in Poliquin's ad.

University of Maine Political Science Professor Mark Brewer says that's exactly what Raye had to do. And Brewer says that Poliquin's strategy could work against him as he attempts to energize the party's conservative wing.

"Attack ads are viewed more skeptically in Maine, and certainly Poliquin runs the risk of being seen by voters as overly negative, overly aggressive, and that could certainly backfire against him," Brewer said.

Calls made to the Poliquin campaign for comment were not returned by air time.


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