Speaking to VillageSoup in September, independent candidate for governor Kevin Scott raised a fair challenge to the party-obsessed coverage of the current campaign season.

“I don’t know how we got to the place where we are, where a regular guy, somebody who has some ability, is running for governor and instantly is labeled as not qualified and doesn’t have any answers,” Scott said. “It’s wrong, it’s gross, it’s disgusting and it’s inaccurate.”

Scott was one of four gubernatorial candidates who agreed to meet with VillageSoup for an informal question-and-answer session last month. In conversation, he was articulate and confident. His ideas were fresh, his rhetoric mostly free of the exhausted phrases of the major party candidates. And while he has been criticized for not having all the answers (his campaign has been centered around the idea that a good leader draws on the talents of people knowledgeable in a variety of specialized areas), when pressed for details, he had them. Scott joined the fray early and survived a field of 32 candidates to make the final five. In short, he seemed like he could be governor. Maybe he wouldn’t win, but surely he would be in the running.

He wasn’t even close.

At the time, Scott was polling at around 1 percent — a figure he jokingly attributed to pollsters’ unwillingness to publish a smaller number — and recent polls show him at a fraction of that figure. The reason, he claimed, was that he had been marginalized from the start.

Shawn Moody, the plain-spoken but articulate and energetic businessman from Southern Maine, has shared the bottom ranks of the gubernatorial candidate polls with Scott. He could make the same claim as Scott, though in an interview with VillageSoup, Moody said it was incumbent upon him to get his message out to voters.

Like Scott, Moody gave well-reasoned and detailed answers to our questions, making a compelling case for applying some of the practices of his successful homegrown auto body repair business to the bureaucracy of state government. But like Scott, his views at candidates’ forums have generally been treated as footnotes to what is presented as the real contest, a three-way race between Republican Paul LePage, Democrat Libby Mitchell and independent Eliot Cutler.

So how did Cutler get in the race? Like Scott and Moody, he has a comprehensive platform, and in conversations with VillageSoup he had no trouble articulating what he sees as the issues facing Maine and outlining a vision for the state. Unlike his fellow independents, Cutler has money — enough to go nose-to-nose with the party-backed candidates.

According to figures published by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, the agency that monitors spending by candidates, political parties and political action committees, Cutler has spent around $1.5 million in his bid for the governor’s office. LePage and Mitchell have spent $950,000 and $1.7 million, respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum Scott, who has spent around $24,000 to date. Moody, according to Ethics Commission records, has spent just over $500,000, the majority of which is listed as a loan. Which is to say his spending is not a reflection of campaign contributions, but a calculated risk.

Recent poll results have amplified the idea that there are two kinds of candidates, the contenders and the also-rans — this was made explicit in the latest survey by independent pollster Rasmussen Reports, in which respondents could choose Cutler, Mitchell, LePage, “Some other candidate” or “Undecided.” While the poll percentages for each of the candidates don’t exactly mirror campaign contribution amounts, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it takes about a million dollars to get in the game.

Those, of course, are just the candidates’ independent fundraising efforts. An Oct. 13 article in the Portland Press Herald, aptly titled “Maine Governor’s Race: A battle worth a million bucks,” addressed spending by outside groups hoping to influence the election. Most of this money, around $1 million at the time of the article, was aimed at the two party-backed candidates. Cutler, it was noted, had received around $50,000 from PACs. Neither Moody nor Scott was mentioned in the article.

Mark Brewer, a political scientist at the University of Maine quoted in the article, offered a reason to believe that the money divide would increase as Election Day drew closer. “As long as the polls stay close, the money is just going to keep flowing in here,” he said. “Independent expenditures here [through PACs] will go as high as those people who are interested in Libby Mitchell and Paul LePage winning deem that they have to go to give them the best chance to win.”

Historically, Maine has been a state of independent voters. We have had two independent governors and currently 37 percent of registered voters in the state are unenrolled. As of the most recent governor’s race poll, one in five of us are still undecided. It’s a big gap — almost enough to make it anyone’s race. Sadly, we’ve already narrowed the field to the three candidates with the deepest pockets.