LePage says if Cutler drops out he’ll win re-election; Michaud camp says it’s unlikely

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LEWISTON — Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday that if the race for the governor’s office were between him and Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud, the governor would win easily.

The incumbent Republican is in a tough, three-way race with Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler, a Cape Elizabeth lawyer and businessman.

LePage told a small group of reporters that a year ago, he believed Cutler’s campaign would help him, but LePage said Wednesday he wished Cutler were no longer in the race.

“I’ll tell you what I really, really believe,” LePage said. “A year ago, I put Eliot on my Christmas card list; this year I took him off. A year ago, I thought he needed to run, but now that I’ve seen the performance that Mike Michaud has made, I wish Cutler wasn’t there, then this election would be over and I absolutely deep down in my heart believe that.”

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David Farmer, a spokesman for Michaud’s campaign, said the Republican Party had launched a series of advertisements touting Cutler’s campaign.

“Gov. LePage is in trouble regardless of who is in the race, but the facts speak for themselves if the Republican Party is spending money to support Eliot Cutler’s campaign,” Farmer said.

He said it was a desperate move to push up Cutler’s numbers in hopes of pulling Michaud’s down. “Their candidate has a hard ceiling and they know that and they are trying to find a different route to victory,” Farmer said.

Farmer said the move was reminiscent of the 2012 U.S. Senate race when the Republican Party spent money in support of Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill, a former state senator. Dill was in a three-way race with independent Angus King, who won, and Republican Charlie Summers, who finished second.

Michaud and LePage have been running neck and neck in the polls, with Cutler trailing.  

While LePage’s and Michaud’s highest numbers have reached 40 percent at times, Cutler has yet to poll above 20 percent. The last available public poll is 10 days old and was conducted before the last two debates that were televised statewide.

Farmer said Michaud and his campaign were not pushing the narrative that a vote for Cutler was a vote for LePage but rather that Michaud was the best man to be governor.

“(Cutler) can be on the ballot if he chooses,” Farmer said. “We believe we have the best candidate in the race and we talk about ourselves and we talk about Gov. LePage because that’s what the race is. It’s what every poll shows. The race hasn’t changed in over a year.”

Crystal Canney, a spokeswoman for Cutler’s campaign, said Michaud was foundering.

“Consistently, in a head-to-head race, (Cutler) beats LePage by 10 points,” Canney said. “Michaud cannot win this race. The debates have done terrific damage to Michaud’s candidacy. He couldn’t win before and he can’t win now.”

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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