January 19, 2013

DC NOTEBOOK: Mainers flock to Washington for inauguration

Kennebec Journal Staff

WASHINGTON -- The front of the Capitol is decked in red, white and blue. The crowd-control signs and miles of security fencing are in place.

click image to enlarge

The West Front of the Capitol in Washington is dressed in red, white and blue, with two days to go before the 57th Presidential Inauguration and President Obama's second inauguration, on Saturday.


And hundreds or perhaps thousands of Mainers will be among the massive crowds -- albeit less massive than four years ago -- expected to cram the Capitol grounds, the National Mall and the parade route to watch President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

They'll include school groups from throughout the state, including a group of seven Hodgdon High School students, who made the trip from Aroostook County to Washington on Saturday morning.

"It was 16 below (zero) the other night, so this is nice," said Brian Fitzpatrick, instructor of the politics class, said Saturday as the group enjoyed temperatures in the 50s while waiting for a tour bus. "They are having a great time and are very excited."

While the Hodgdon group flew to D.C., Great Cranberry Island resident Gary Allen is taking the slower route. He is running from the peak of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to Washington, with a goal of completing his trek Monday.

Allen, a long-distance runner and founder of the Mount Desert Island Marathon, is raising money for the American Cancer Society and the Wounded Warrior Project and to support Sandy Hook Elementary School in Conecticut. More details on his project and his progress can be found at www.maine2dcrun.com.

Several Mainers plan to participate in Monday's inaugural events.

Bethel resident and official inaugural poet Richard Blanco will stand in front of the crowd to read one of his compositions. Blanco is both the first openly gay and the first Latino person to be named inaugural poet.

A group of young people from Scarborough known as the Gym Dandies Children's Circus, meanwhile, will pedal their unicycles down the parade route and past the president and first lady.

And several hundred Mainers and guests will get a jump on the inaugural festivities Sunday afternoon at a party at the New Zealand Embassy co-hosted by the embassy and the Maine law firm Preti Flaherty. Many of Maine's top elected officials -- both past and present -- are expected to attend.

King to host radio show

U.S. Sen. Angus King is dipping his toe back into the broadcast business.

The news and talk radio station WGAN 560 announced last week that King, who was sworn in as Maine's newest U.S. senator earlier this month, will host the Saturday show "Inside Maine" once a month. King was a host on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network long before he was elected governor or senator.

King's first appearance is slated for Feb. 9. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

... and coffee

King is also offering a coffee hour for those planning a midweek trip to the nation's capital.

Beginning Jan. 23, King will hold "Capitol Coffee with Angus" sessions in his Washington office every Wednesday when the Senate is in session. The "constituent breakfast" event will be held in Room 562 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

King plans to meet regularly with constituents in his district offices in Maine when he is back in the state, staff said.

Collins considered safe in 2014

Political prognosticators and journalists already are gearing up for the 2014 mid-term elections; but so far, they're not seeing too much excitement in Maine's congressional races.

On Thursday, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, appears to be a safe bet for re-election, at least at this early stage.

"Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican in a state that's not. She's a moderate and bipartisan in a party that's not. Yet it would be tough for her to be any safer, politically, as she looks toward re-election in 2014," the article reads.

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