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Democrats shift allegiance in Maine gubernatorial race

Democrats, uninspired during the 2010 race, are rallying behind Mike Michaud’s bid to unseat Paul LePage (above).

ROBERT F. BUKATY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrats, uninspired during the 2010 race, are rallying behind Mike Michaud’s bid to unseat Paul LePage (above).

PORTLAND, Maine — Buried in early campaign filings, a subtle shift has begun in the race for Maine’s next governor.

Democratic donors who rallied behind independent candidate Eliot Cutler in the last election have begun to send their checks instead to Democrat Mike Michaud, a five-term US representative. The small group of defectors includes Cutler’s former campaign treasurer and several high-profile Democratic fund-raisers who helped generate tens of thousands of dollars for Cutler’s last gubernatorial bid, in part because they lacked confidence in that year’s Democratic candidate.

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The Democratic divisions allowed Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, to eke out a victory in 2010’s three-way contest.

This year’s early defections, however, underscore what some Democrats hope will be a broad shift to unify behind Michaud next year to defeat Le-Page, a brash conservative whose first term has been marked at times by gaffes and low popularity.

Robert C. Monks served temporarily as Cutler’s treasurer before the last election. Monks now backs Michaud, and his wife, Bonnie Porta, serves as Michaud’s campaign treasurer. Together, the couple gave $6,000 to Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign, according to reports filed last month. And they’re working to generate much more from others.

Others who made the shift include former L.L. Bean chairman Leon Gorman and attorney Robert Gips.

Some prominent Democrats have stuck by Cutler. Cutler’s 2010 campaign finance chairmen, Jean Gulliver and Marion Freeman, are returning.

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