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Outside spending pours into Maine's gubernatorial race

Campaign signs in a median in Lewiston on Oct. 4, 2022.
Rebecca Conley
Maine Public
Campaign signs in a median in Lewiston on Oct. 4, 2022.

Spending by groups attempting to influence Maine's gubernatorial election has jumped to more than $13 million, nearly doubling in the span of two weeks.

The overwhelming majority of the ads from groups working independently of the candidate campaigns is negative messaging that attempts to hobble the re-election chances of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills or her rival, former Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

And most of that spending is financed by national groups engaged in many of the 36 races for governor this year.

The Republican Governors Association is routing its spending through the Maine Republican Party, which has spent nearly $4.5 million propping up LePage or attacking Mills.

Meanwhile, Better Maine, a group operated by the Democratic Governors Association, has spent more than $6.3 million supporting Mills through attacks against LePage.

Independent candidate Sam Hunkler has been spared from the ad blitz and polls suggest his low-budget campaign has failed to gain much traction.

The race will be decided by a straight plurality vote because Maine's ranked-choice voting law is not in effect for general election contests for governor.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.