Independent candidate Eliot Culter on Wednesday announced in a hastily organized press conference that he would not bow out of Maine's gubernatorial race, spurning those who implored him to drop out rather than risk splitting the anti-incumbent vote with Democratic candidate Rep. Mike Michaud.
"I am not standing down," Cutler said. However, he added that if people think he has no shot at winning, they should "vote your conscience."
Polls have shown Michaud running even with Gov. Paul LePage (R), with Cutler a distant third. But Michaud and Cutler are splitting the anti-LePage vote — a large pool given that more than half of the state views LePage unfavorably. Seeking to capitalize on this dynamic, Republicans have quietly praised Cutler in ads, hoping he would rise at Michaud's expense.
LePage eked out a victory in a three-way race in 2010 with less than 38 percent of the vote. A PPP poll released last week found Michaud and LePage deadlocked in a three-way race at 40 percent apiece, though Michaud posted a five-point lead with Cutler out of the picture.