WASHINGTON -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) won re-election on Tuesday, despite being one of the most unpopular governors in the country.
LePage won in part for the same reason he did in 2010: A crowded race split Democratic votes, paving the way for his victory.
Four years ago, LePage narrowly beat independent Eliot Cutler, with the Democratic candidate coming in third.
This year, Cutler fared considerably worse. He failed to gain traction with the voters and consistently trailed his two opponents, LePage and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), by double digits. In a press conference a week before the election, Cutler acknowledged his slim chances of victory by encouraging his supporters to vote for other candidates if they believed he couldn't win.
But he didn't drop out, although his presence in the race was widely seen as hurting Democrats -- who urged him to drop out. The Republican Governors Association even released an ad praising Cutler. In exit polls, Cutler voters were more likely to say they would have voted for Michaud than LePage in a two-person race between the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Michaud, who would have become the first openly gay governor if elected, had the strong support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.
LePage was considered one of the most vulnerable GOP governors this election cycle, in part because of his tendency to make controversial comments. He has also had a strained relationship with the media in the state, declaring that he was "not a fan of newspapers" and joking that he wanted to blow up a paper's headquarters.
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