Independent candidate for governor Terry Hayes onstage at a forum in Portland.

The Maine Republican Party has directed roughly $50,000 to a television ad opposing unenrolled candidate Terry Hayes’ run for governor, diverging from ads opposing Democrat Janet Mills and supporting Republican Shawn Moody.

The party disclosed the spending on Monday in a revised expense report, changing $147,665 spent to oppose Mills to a mix of spending to support Moody and oppose Mills and Hayes. They reported paying Del Cielo Media $49,221.67 for TV ad time directed at each candidate.

The ad derides Mills as a “career politician” while characterizing Hayes as a “liberal” who supports universal health care, a policy platform Democrats have embraced as “Medicare for all.” The ad touts Moody’s experience as a small businessman.

The spending boosts the television airtime given to Hayes, equaling roughly 10 percent of the amount Hayes’ campaign has itself spent to get her name and message in front of voters.

The spending could signal the Republican Party’s hope that enthusiasm for Hayes could help chip into Democrat Janet Mills’ base, giving Moody more room to claim a plurality of the vote, akin to Gov. Paul LePage’s rise to the state’s top office.

LePage won his first election, in 2010, with 37.6 percent of the vote. LePage has thrown $1,000 of his own cash to Moody’s campaign, which is run by a team that helped get LePage in office.

The ad, posted to the Maine GOP’s Facebook page, also fires back at an attack ad from Mills supporters, quoting Moody as saying that Maine schools are “overfunded.” The GOP ad says Moody will seek to “invest in our public schools.”

In an email, Hayes criticized “partisan fighting and keeping score.” She said she has “never participated in a negative ad, and I never will.”

The Maine Republican Party’s executive director did not immediately comment Tuesday afternoon.

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Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.