WATCH LIVE: Maine gubernatorial debate

Watch the Maine State Chamber's Gubernatorial Forum, Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. EST. Featuring incumbent Gov. Paul LePage (R), Rep. Mike Michaud (D), Eliot Cutler (I). Live stream courtesy WCSH 6/WLBZ 2.

A few weeks ago, it looked like the candidates vying to inhabit Maine's governor's mansion would not meet face-to-face before the November elections.

But over the course of the month, the three contenders will spar a handful of times, including at their first televised debate tonight.

Incumbent Gov. Paul LePage (R) will face off against two challengers, Rep. Mike Michaud (D) and Eliot Cutler (I) from the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Me., at 7 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the event as part of its Annual Meeting. Pat Callaghan, an anchor with WCSH, will moderate.

Last week, the three candidates met for two separate, non-televised forums focused on education and the economy.

Debates are likely to play a critical role in bringing out voters, the Bangor Daily News has reported, and could make all the difference in a fiercely-fought race.

Incumbent Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) will debate challengers Rep. Michael Michaud (D) and Eliot Cutler (I) in a gubernatorial debate Wednesday

Polls have widely shown a close contest between LePage and Michaud, although a recent survey suggests Michaud may be pulling ahead. Some analysts believe the result will come down to Cutler's showing. Democrats believe Cutler, who finished second to LePage in 2010, will drain votes from their candidate, but that Michaud can win if Cutler does not exceed 15 percent of the total vote.

LePage rode into office on a wave of Tea Party support. As PBS NewsHour's Morning Line team has reported, he is among the most vulnerable of incumbent governors, in part because of his far-right ideology.

If Michaud wins, he would be the country's first openly-gay governor.

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