In race to control the Senate, Maine is a wildcard


The Senate Democrats' campaign arm is all about promoting its women candidates this year, but in Maine, they're essentially ignoring one. Maine's female Democratic Senate candidate, meanwhile, is getting support from an independent group tied to Republicans.

Typical political strategies have been somewhat upended in Maine, thanks in large part to the wildcard in the Senate race -- independent candidate Angus King, who currently leads in the polls. The Maine race could help determine which party controls the Senate next year -- the problem is, King hasn't committed to helping either.

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For now, the assumption is that King -- a former governor who supports abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act but supported George W. Bush in 2000 -- will side with Democrats in the Senate. That may explain why the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), in spite of its emphasis on boosting the number of women in the Senate, hasn't endorsed Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill.

"We have not endorsed in that race," DSCC Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., told reporters last week. She focused on the fact that while Dill may not be winning in the polls, neither is the Republican candidate Charlie Summers.

"Mitch McConnell had Maine in his back pocket months ago," Murray said, referring to the Senate Minority Leader. "Today that is not the case."

Maine typically sends Republicans -- albeit, moderate Republicans -- to the Senate. When Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe announced her retirement, Democrats saw an opening. Last week the DSCC started airing an ad that says Summers "marches with the Washington extremists," according to the Bangor Daily News.

Dill is brushing off the slight but sticking with the Democrats' message that voters should send more women to the Senate. At a forum sponsored by the Maine Women's Policy Center Thursday night, Dill said she agreed with the notion that Washington is "broken," but argued it's working perfectly fine for "older, very wealthy white men."