Tuesday, June 18, 2013
WASHINGTON — Maine’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention includes both a mix of longtime party stalwarts and relatively new faces.
As happened with the state’s Republican contingent in Tampa last week, however, Maine’s highest-ranking Democratic politicians and some candidates for higher office are skipping their national party’s pep rally in Charlotte.
Both U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud opted to stay in Maine as did state Sen. Cynthia Dill, who is vying for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat this November. Both Michaud and Pingree face Republican challengers this November.
Willy Ritch, spokesman for Pingree, said the congresswoman did attend a campaign-style Labor Day event in Portland on Monday but that otherwise, she planned to conduct other work in Maine this week before returning to Washington for next week’s House sessions.
Michaud, meanwhile, was making appearances throughout the district — including six separate stops in the Lewiston-Auburn area scheduled for Thursday — as part of a “Make it in Maine” manufacturing tour. Although not officially part of his re-election campaign, the tour comes at a time when jobs and job creation are arguably the top political issues in Maine and across the country.
“August is traditionally a time when the congressman is able to spend some in-depth time with Mainers,” said Michaud Ed Gilman.
Dill was spending the week campaigning in the state, although her absence is not necessarily surprising.
The Cape Elizabeth lawmaker has had a rocky relationship with some national Democratic leaders in recent months. Dill has not received any support from the national party’s campaign machine, apparently because of the fact that former Gov. Angus King — an independent with strong Democratic leanings on some issues — has enjoyed a substantial lead in polls.
That’s not to say that Maine’s Democratic Party leaders all stayed home. The list of delegates includes many legislative leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Barry Hobbins, of Saco, and House Minority Leader Rep. Emily Cain, of Orono, as well as former Attorney General Janet Mills.
Cain said the Maine Democrats get together each morning for a delegation breakfast, break up for afternoon workshops or other events and then reconvene for the evening speeches. That cohesiveness was lacking for Maine’s delegation in Tampa, however, because of a dispute between supporters of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul that created essentially two separate delegations.
Gov. Paul LePage skipped last week’s GOP convention, citing the decision by Republican National Committee members to unseat 10 Paul delegates from Maine. In fact, few of Maine’s high-profile Republican politicians attended the GOP convention.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins canceled plans to travel to Tampa because of weather, according to her office. Snowe, who has repeatedly criticized what she sees as the GOP’s hard shift to the “ideological right,” had never stated publicly that she planned to attend.
Additionally, neither of the GOP’s two U.S. House candidates — state Sen. Jonathan Courtney of Springvale and Maine Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry — went to Tampa. Secretary of State Charlie Summers, running for Snowe’s seat, only made campaign-related stops on one day, but did not participate in the convention’s official activities, despite being named one of the 10 people to replace the unseated Paul delegates.