Down East 2013 ©
This week saw the first major TV advertising for statewide campaigns in the 2012 General Election in Maine. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun airing an ad attacking the record of former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate Angus King and tonight Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders will begin airing an ad in support of the referendum to allow marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Maine.
The ad against King, which is part of a more-than $200,000 ad buy, has received attention so far for both its tone and the messenger behind it.
The 30-second ad  is hard-hitting and cartoonish, playing off King’s name and labeling him the “King of Spending.”
The group behind the ad is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a national conservative group with close ties to the health insurance industry. As Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors made clear in media reports , the group doesn’t represent local chambers or Maine businesses.
King took issue with the anonymous nature of the spending, telling MPBN  “I mean, if you go to Maine town meeting, you're not allowed to stand up and have a bag over your head, you've got to say who you are and have the courage of your convictions. These guys are anonymous, faceless, we have no idea of who they are. We do know they're from outside of Maine and they're trying to tell us how to vote.”
It’s likely that this is a test for the Chamber. If this ad can move some voters and narrow the 30-point gap between King and Republican opponent Charlie Summers (who the Chamber has endorsed), then they and other conservative groups might focus more of their attention on Maine.
The other statewide ad , paid for by GLAD (an organization that's part of the Mainers United for Marriage coalition) and airing for the first time tonight during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, is much less harsh. It features four generations of the Gardner family sitting around their dinner table in Machias as World War II veteran Harlan Gardner talks about why the freedom to marry is important for him and his family.
The ad is similar to some other ads  aired by GLAD a few months ago, during an earlier phase of the campaign, but is the first to air since yesterday’s announcement  of the final ballot wording of the referendum.
The ad is powerful and it’s obviously an attempt to cast the issue early as being about family, love and commitment rather than the negative frames that marriage rights opponents successfully used in 2009 and will soon attempt to impose with their own advertising in the coming months.