By Jason McLure
LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - A Maine Senate race has turned into a fight over trolls, dwarves and goblin-like creatures known as orcs.
In a mailing this week, state Republicans accused Democrat Colleen Lachowicz of living in a fantasy world and making "crude, vicious and violent comments" in online forums dedicated to World of Warcraft, a popular online game.
Lachowicz, who is challenging incumbent Senator Tom Martin, has responded by accusing Republicans of focusing on her hobbies rather than public policy issues.
"I think it's weird that I'm being targeted for playing online games," she said in a statement. "What's next? Will I be ostracized for playing Angry Birds or Words With Friends?"
A website produced by Republicans includes a link to Lachowicz's online character, Santiaga, who sports a purple Mohawk and is armed with a meteor shard. It notes that the game takes place in a "make believe land Azeroth" and that Lachowicz is "playing at level 85 — the highest level one can attain."
The mailing said she spends hundreds of hours involved in World of Warcraft, which features an array of characters such as trolls and orcs.
"We need a senator who lives in our world, not Colleen's world," the mailing said.
It also highlights comments Lachowicz made in online forums to other World of Warcraft players in 2009 and 2010, including: "I love poisoning and stabbing," "I can kill stuff without going to jail" and "I like to stab things and I'm originally from New Jersey, what's your (expletive) point?"
Ericka Dodge, a spokeswoman for Maine Democrats, said in an interview on Friday that Lachowicz, a social worker, had only spent about 30 minutes playing World of Warcraft since January as she was now spending her free time campaigning.
"Clearly before she started the campaign she spent a lot more time gaming," said Dodge. "She's also a knitter, but my guess is no one is going to attack her for that."
An estimated 211.5 million people, or about two-thirds of the population, play video games in the U.S., according to NPD Group.
David Sorensen, a spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, said the mailing and website weren't meant to antagonize gamers.
"As far as we're concerned, it's not a ‘World of Warcraft story,' it's a ‘candidate saying outrageous things through World of Warcraft story,'" he said on Friday.
(Editing by Paul Thomasch and Prudence Crowther)