Conservative PAC takes aim at Maine's Senate race

WASHINGTON -- Sensing an opportunity to keep Maine's Senate seat in Republican hands, a super PAC started by GOP strategist Karl Rove is airing television ads in the state for the first time as part of a $5 million blitz in a handful of states.

The ad airing in Maine criticizes independent candidate Angus King as someone who supported tax increases as governor and also helped turn a surplus into a deficit. King was elected governor in 1994 and served two terms.

King is favored in a three-way race with Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill. The former Democrat backs President Barack Obama but supported George W. Bush in 2000. Republicans are worried that King would caucus with Democrats if elected to the Senate, but King won't say if that's the case.

Crossroads GPS is spending $309,000 on the ad campaign, which began Tuesday. The ad says King managed to turn a $60 million surplus into a nearly $1 billion shortfall. "With this record, Maine can't afford Angus King in the Senate," the ad's narrator says.

Crystal Canney, a spokeswoman for the King campaign, said the ad was clearly designed to help the Republican candidate, Summers.

"They must be afraid of Angus, because no one owns his vote," Canney said.

She also took issue with the claim about King's tenure leading to a nearly $1 billion shortfall. She said the state constitution requires a balanced budget and that King worked with the legislature every year he served as government to pass a balanced budget.