Entries in Maine (11)


Maine Senate Race Scrambled by Strong Independent Candidate

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two candidates emerged victorious from a crowded field in Maine’s Senate primary on Tuesday. Republicans nominated Charlie Summers, Maine's secretary of state, from a group of six potential candidates, and Democrats nominated Cynthia Dill, a state senator from the South Portland area, from a group of four potential candidates.

But the front-runner is generally considered to be Angus King, a former governor who is running as an independent.

Republicans and Democrats have strong candidates in Summers and Dill. Summers, 52, is a commander in the U.S. Navy reserve who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has served as secretary of state since 2011, and he served as the state director for Olympia Snowe, the retiring Republican senator, whose seat he is looking to fill, for almost a decade. Snowe, however, has not yet committed to supporting her party’s nominee.

Dill, 47, is a lawyer and self-described progressive Democrat. She has served in the Maine legislature since 2006, and in the state Senate since 2011.

It is King, 68, who is viewed as having the advantage in the race. The two-term governor who is independently wealthy enjoys a significantly higher name recognition in the state and stronger finances.  King’s record does not fall squarely in line with either party -- he endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, backed Obama in 2008, and supported independent candidate Eliot Cutler in Maine’s gubernatorial race in 2010. But Maine is viewed as a more Democratic state, and therefore he is generally considered to be a more favorable candidate for Democrats.

Traditional congressional protocol dictates that if King wins the election, he will have to choose a party to caucus with in the Senate, or he’d have to forgo good committee assignments. King has refused to say which party he’d align himself with, and he’s even said that he’s considering the option of giving up committee assignments to maintain his independence. That middle ground has caused head-scratching in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have tried to tie King to the Democrats and paint Summers as a real independent, while Democrats have remained largely silent on the race. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which oversees Democratic Senate races, did not issue any statement congratulating Cynthia Dill on her victory like they usually do when a nominee emerges from a primary.

Although Maine is viewed as generally leaning towards Democrats, a Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won the state since part-time Kennebunkport resident George H.W. Bush in 1988.  The governor, Paul LePage, is Republican, and the state’s two senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, are Republican, although widely considered to be very moderate. And the state’s two representatives in the House are Democrats.

Political independence is a point of pride in the state, and so it is likely that King will be able to make it through the Senate race without committing to either party, if he so chooses, which is sure to make for a very unique race.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What to Watch in Tuesday’s Voting Contests

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Voters take to the polls to cast their ballots in Arizona, Maine, Virginia, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina on Tuesday.  Residents of these respective states will decide on a series of contests including a special election, a crowded Republican Senate primary and a decision on whether to change a university nickname.

Here are the top four things to watch in Tuesday’s voting contests:

1.) Special Election in Arizona

The race to fill the seat left open by the retirement of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who stepped down from Congress in January, takes place Tuesday in Arizona’s 8th congressional district.  Ron Barber, Giffords’ former district director, and Jesse Kelly, a former marine who also ran against Giffords in 2010, will face off in the Republican-leaning district.  Polling shows Barber in the lead but the race is far from certain.

2.) Senate Primaries in Maine

When Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe announced her decision to retire in February, the Senate map for Democrats briefly looked very exciting.  Maine is considered to be a relatively blue state, and the state boasted a deep bench of potential Democratic contenders.  But both parties were thrown for a loop when former Independent Gov. Angus King announced he would be jumping in the race.  With many assuming King would ultimately end up caucusing with the Democrats (King has so far refused to commit to either party), the more-well known Dems in the state opted not to enter the race, while Republicans continued to enter in droves.  Six Republicans and four Democrats are on the ballot Tuesday, with an interesting three-way race soon to follow.

3.) North Dakota’s Nickname Referendum

In North Dakota, turnout is expected to be driven by two ballot measures -- a referendum to ban property taxes in the state, and a referendum on whether to discontinue the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname.  The referendum -- known as Senate Bill 2370 -- asks voters to decide whether they would prefer to allow the university to discontinue the nickname or logo, or require the university to use said nickname and logo.  The school’s mascot has been under fire for some time, and the debate over retirement has been on-going.  Supporters of the measure argue that the nickname negatively affects the school’s athletics program (in addition, of course, to the argument that the nickname is offensive).  Polling indicates a majority of support for the measure.

If it passed, the nickname would not be changed until January, 2015 at the earliest, and it is not know what the new nickname and logo might be.  UND would join a relatively large group of universities who have retired Native American nicknames and mascots over the past several decades including Miami University, Seattle University and the College of William and Mary.

4.) Official Start of Close Key Senate Races in Virginia, Nevada and North Dakota

What do Virginia, Nevada and North Dakota have in common?  They’re all states with closely-watched, tightly contested Senate races this fall.  With Democrats holding onto the narrow majority in the Senate, Republicans are hoping to potentially pick-up seats in Virginia and North Dakota, while Democrats are hoping to pick one up in Nevada.

The candidates in these races are already virtually known (barring any surprise upsets).  In Virginia, Democrat Tim Kaine is running unopposed, and Republican George Allen is the clear front-runner in the GOP field.  In Nevada, Rep. Shelley Berkley is expected to officially claim the Democratic nomination, while Sen. Dean Heller will, in all likelihood, officially win the Republican nod.  And in North Dakota, former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination and Rep. Rick Berg is considered the likely GOP nominee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama to Draw Big Crowds, Modest Cash in Vermont and Maine

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s fundraising trip to Vermont and Maine on Friday won’t rank among his most lucrative, but it will turn out his largest crowds of the 2012 campaign.

An afternoon concert-fundraiser at the University of Vermont in Burlington is expected to draw 4,500 supporters, making it the single biggest Obama campaign event this election cycle.  General admission tickets for the event started at $100 apiece, campaign officials said, and include a performance by local rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Obama’s swing through the Green Mountain State -- the first by a sitting president since 1995 -- will conclude with a $7,500-per-plate luncheon with 100 donors at the Sheraton Burlington, according to an invitation for the event obtained by ABC News.   

Both Vermont fundraisers are expected to raise at least $1.2 million for the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account that funnels money to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Obama will spend his evening fundraising in neighboring Maine, where he’ll headline another of his largest events of the campaign so far -- an 1,800-person rally at Southern Maine Community College in Portland -- and attend a more intimate, high-dollar dinner at the Portland Museum of Art.

Tickets for the college rally began at $100 and up, campaign officials said, while the dinner for 130 guests was $5,000 per person.

All told, the one-day New England foray will net at least $2 million for the 2012 election -- less than half of what Obama raised on a Friday of fundraising in Chicago and Atlanta two weeks ago.

The push for cash comes as the March fundraising period comes to a close and the Obama campaign prepares to file its monthly fundraising report with the Federal Election Commission.  The reports are seen as barometers of support and enthusiasm for a candidate and a measure of the competitiveness of a campaign.

Obama and Democrats reported raising $45 million in February, well ahead of their Republican rivals, but off their record-setting fundraising pace of four years ago for the second consecutive month.  With Friday’s fundraisers, Obama has attended 113 money events for the 2012 campaign, more than any of his predecessors at this point in his term. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


With Filing Deadline Passed, Maine Senate Race Looks Unclear

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- When Olympia Snowe, the Republican senior senator from Maine, announced her plans to retire from Congress last month, the consensus among politicos was that her move would behoove the opposing party -- the Democrats.

But the filing deadline to qualify for the ballot in the state’s June 12 primary was Thursday at 5 p.m., and the outlook for the Democrats is not so clear.

Maine has been friendly territory for Democrats in recent years.  The state has gone Democratic in the past three presidential elections, and both of Maine’s House reps are Democrats. 

The party has a deep bench of strong candidates: Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, and former Gov. John Baldacci were viewed as strong possibilities to claim Snow’s sought-after seat.  All three, however, have decided against running.

Three Democrats are currently set to run: Matt Dunlap, a former secretary of state for Maine, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, and state Rep. John Hinck.

On the Republican side, the field is twice the size.  Six candidates have thrown their hats into the ring: current Secretary of State Charlie Summers, Attorney General William Schneider, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, state Sen. Debra Plowman, former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett and Scott D’Ambroise, a  Tea Party candidate who entered the race before Snowe announced her retirement.

The big candidate, though -- the one who has so far gained the most attention -- doesn’t represent either party.  The candidate is Angus King, the former independent governor who served the state from 1995-2003.  King’s background in the public and private sectors appeals to both Republicans and Democrats.

“He’s a very successful businessman who has done a great deal of work in investing in green energy, and I think that kind of typifies how he’s able to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats,” said John Baughman, an associate professor of politics at Bates College in Lewiston.

Early polling suggests King is the clear front-runner in the race, and Baughman explained that King’s decision to run was likely the motivating factor for the more well-known Democrats' otherwise puzzling lack of presence.

“Democrats have in the back of their minds what happened in 2010,” said Baughman, referring to Maine’s gubernatorial race that year.

“In 2010, Democratic voters ended up splitting votes between the party nominee, Libby Mitchell, and independent Elliot Cutler, allowing a conservative candidate to win with about 39 percent of the vote.  And it was pretty clear that if either Mitchell or Cutler had dropped out of the race that [Paul] LePage, the Republican (and current Maine governor) would have lost.  The Democrats lost a winnable governor’s seat in a fairly blue state, and they did not want that to happen again,” he explained.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe to Retire

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a three-term veteran from Maine, will not stand for re-election this fall. Snowe, one of the handful of moderates left in the Senate, said she is tired of the gridlock that has paralyzed Congress.

Snowe, 65, was one of just three Republicans to support President Obama’s stimulus package in 2009. Although she voted against the final health care bill in 2010, she was the only Republican Senator to vote for any version of the bill (she supported it in committee).

Her retirement is a big blow to Republican hopes of taking control of the Senate. With her seat almost certain to be picked up by a Democrat, Republicans would need to pick up a total of four seats (three if a Republican wins the White House) -- and not lose any of their own vulnerable seats like Scott Brown’s seat in Massachusetts -- in order to take control of the Senate.

In a paper statement announcing her retirement, Snowe said she does not “realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change.”

Snowe’s office said she will hold a news conference in Portland, Maine, in order to further discuss her decision when she returns to her home state on Friday.

Snowe’s full statement:

“After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate.

After 33 years in the Congress this was not an easy decision.  My husband and I are in good health.  We have laid an exceptionally strong foundation for the campaign, and I have no doubt I would have won re-election.  It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine’s legislature and later in both houses of Congress.  To this day, I remain deeply passionate about public service, and I cherish the opportunity I have been given for nearly four decades to help improve the lives of my fellow Mainers.

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives.  I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be.  Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.

As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the  promise that is unique to America.

In the meantime, as I complete my third term, I look forward to continuing to fight for the people of Maine and the future of our nation.  And I will be forever and unyieldingly grateful for the trust that the people of Maine have placed in me, and for the phenomenal friendship and assistance I have received over the years from my colleagues, my supporters, and my staff, both in Maine and in Washington.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maine’s Caucus Confusion: Romney's Win at Risk?

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- The Maine Republican Party announced Feb. 11 that Mitt Romney had won the state’s caucuses by 194 votes. In the days after the announcement, however, some problems began to emerge.

Reports indicated that the state party had omitted numbers for places such as Waldo and Waterville. Rep. Ron Paul supporters complained about the decision not to count the results from Washington County, a rural county in the northeastern most part of the state, which had decided to delay its caucuses a week because of weather concerns -- some say deliberately to hurt his chances.

After almost a week of pressure, the Maine GOP finally released a carefully worded announcement saying that the party was “reconfirming” the results of individual caucuses.

“We have worked diligently to contact town chairmen throughout Maine to reconfirm the results of their individual caucuses,” read the statement, put forth by Maine GOP chairman Charlie Webster. “These totals, once confirmed, will be posted on the Maine Republican Party Website.”

Webster assured ABC News that the new numbers do not actually change the outcome; Romney still placed first in the state. “It doesn’t affect the total in a significant way,” Webster said. “The results are the same.”

The question of what will happen with Washington County’s caucuses, however, is going to linger, at least for a couple of weeks. Webster told ABC News that the Republican State Committee will make a final ruling about whether it will include the Washington County results in the final caucus tally when the committee meets March 10.

The party’s Executive Committee, of which Webster is a member, has recommended that the Republican State Committee include the votes, but ultimately the State Committee will have the final say.

Paul needs a net increase of 195 votes to claim victory in the Pine Tree State. In 2008, Washington County cast a total of 113 votes. The Texas congressman took eight of them.

If the results of Washington County change the outcome of the race, the timing of the decision regarding whether to actually include the county in the final tally will likely lessen the blow. That’s because March 10 falls after Super Tuesday -- on March 6 -- when 10 states are scheduled to hold their voting contests and when the race will take a clearer shape.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maine Hosts a 'Lazy Caucus' in Vacationland

iStockphoto/Thinkstock edit Delete caption(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- On Saturday evening, the Maine Republican Party will announce the results of its state’s caucus. Still, Saturday isn't neccesarily the date of the Pine Tree State’s caucus.

While the GOP candidates and the media have focused much of their attention over the past week on Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Missouri, a voting contest has been under way in Vacationland since Saturday, Feb. 4.

Maine hosts a “lazy caucus.”

The state’s Republican Party requested that Maine’s counties and municipalities hold their caucus events sometime between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. The majority of the state’s events have been slated for Feb. 11, but a couple of towns have already caucused.

Twenty-four delegates are at stake in Maine’s contest. In 2008, Mitt Romney won the state, which is close to his home base of Massachusetts, with 52 percent of the vote. John McCain and Ron Paul finished in second and third place, with 22 percent and 18 percent of the vote respectively. Turnout was low in 2008 -- 5,482 votes were cast, about 1 percent of the voting eligible population.

Though Democrats have carried the state in recent presidential elections, Maine is very much a “purple state.” It has two Republican senators and a Republican governor, but their two House reps are Democrats. Mainers pride themselves on their political independence, which makes Paul a popular candidate.

Maine’s caucus is open only to registered Republicans. Previously, unregistered voters and voters previously unaffiliated with a party, can register as Republicans at the polls, which means that independent voters can participate in the event.

In his speech to supporters Tuesday night, coming off of his second-place finish in Minnesota, Paul said he expected to do well in the state.

Because the Maine Republican Party will release the statewide results of the caucus in bulk Saturday evening, there will not be the same ability to monitor the various counties for a sense of how the race is going.

The end of Maine’s caucus week marks the start of a quiet period in the primary schedule. The next primaries will be in Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maine Senator Susan Collins Engaged This Week

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- A wedding is in the works for Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

On Sunday, the 59-year-old senator became engaged for the first time to Thomas Daffron, chief operating officer of Jefferson Consulting Group, a lobbyist firm in Washington, D.C.

While a date has not been set and the senator will have to juggle Congress' summer recess schedule, a “small, private” ceremony is being planned in Maine this summer, Collin’s Senate office says.

“Senator Collins and Mr. Daffron are very happy and they look forward to celebrating this wonderful occasion with their families,” said Kevin Kelley, spokesman for Senator Collins, said in a statement.

Daffron also has been involved in Republican politics for a long time and has served as chief of staff to former Republican senators Bill Cohen of Maine and Fred Thompson of Tennessee. He served as chief of staff to Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and was the national campaign manager for the presidential campaign of Elizabeth Dole.

Collins and Daffron first met in the 70′s while they both worked  for then Sen. Bill Cohen, where Collins worked as a legislative assistant.  They remained friends through the years and started dating a few years ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maine Governor Takes Labor Murals Down

Office of Governor Paul LePage(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- Maine's right-of-center Gov. Paul LePage had murals depicting milestones in the state's labor history removed from the lobby of his Department of Labor over the weekend, enraging union leaders and art-lovers.

The murals became the focus of debate in the state last week when it was revealed that the governor wanted them taken down.

Where are the murals now? "In storage," says the governor's press secretary. Is it possible to say where? "Nope."

This latest action seems sure to catapult into an even higher orbit the roiling political-artistic dispute. Not just the governor's treatment of the art but the timing of his action astounded critics.

Earlier last week, 300 union members had staged a protest in Augusta, rallying against "right to work" legislation being advocated by the governor. His following decision to boot the union-friendly artwork struck labor leaders as retaliation. And his choosing Friday the 25th to announce his decision proved a masterpiece of bad timing.

Friday was the 100th anniversary of the most horrific tragedy in U.S. labor history, New York's Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

On March 25, 1911, a tremendous fire broke out on the eighth floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, which employed only women, most of them immigrant teenage girls. When they tried to flee, they found the emergency exit doors locked, closed by managers who had been trying to cut down on thievery. Of the 146 women who died, some burned to death; others suffocated; other jumped, splattered on the pavement below or impaled on the stakes of an iron fence that surrounded the building.

"It's enough to make you weep," says historian Charles Scontras, of the mural's removal. Scontras, professor emeritus of the University of Maine and currently historian to the Bureau of Labor Education, served as consultant to artist Judy Taylor, who produced the now-vanished Department of Labor mural. Its 11 panels depict scenes from shoe-making, ship-building and other Maine's industries. They also depict a famous strike.

"Everything in those murals is historically accurate," says Scontras. "There's no dispute about that." He calls the governor's action an attempt "to erase part of our cultural history."

Though no disaster in Maine ever equaled the tragedy of the Triangle Fire, he views the deaths, privations and indignities suffered by Maine's labor as "the price paid for building the wealth of this state."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Maine Governor Seeks to Remove Labor Mural

Maine [dot] gov(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who famously told President Obama to "stay the hell" out of Maine during his election campaign last fall, has ordered a 36-foot mural illustrating his state's labor history to be stricken from the lobby of the Department of Labor.

A spokesman for the Republican governor said some Maine business people complained that the mural was "hostile to business."

Later, a fax released by LePage's office read in part, "In studying the mural I also observed that this mural is nothing but propaganda to further the agenda of the Union movement.  I felt for a moment that I was in communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses."

Critics of LePage responded that it was his way of getting back at the unions because of their political differences.

The news comes after battles have taken place between state employees and lawmakers over collective bargaining rights across several states, like Wisconsin.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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