AUGUSTA – With the primaries firmly behind them, the campaigns are adding staff, opening offices and looking forward to a boatload of parades over the July 4 holiday weekend.

On the staffing front, Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, the Democratic nominee, has hired Jesse Connolly as senior adviser for her campaign.

Connolly, a political consultant, most recently served as House Speaker Hannah Pingree’s chief of staff and ran the No on 1 campaign that tried — ultimately unsuccessfully — to defend the state’s gay-marriage law.

Mitchell said she also plans to work with former rival Rosa Scarcelli, the Portland businesswoman and political newcomer who finished third in the field of four. They’ll tap her expertise on business and women’s issues, Mitchell said.

“We have some concrete plans to do some things,” Mitchell said. “We’ll be working with her.”

Waterville Mayor Paul LePage will open a campaign office at 28 Main St. in Waterville this week, campaign chief of staff John Morris said. When it comes to staff, Morris will continue as chief and Brent Littlefield will stay on as a political adviser. Others will be added as office staff, Morris said.

“There could be some minor tweaking but the team itself is staying the same,” he said.

Independent Eliot Cutler will make some announcements about new staff in the next couple of weeks, campaign chief of staff Ted O’Meara said.

“We’ve been talking with a lot of different people,” he said. “We probably will have additions to announce very soon.”

And on the parade front, politicians of all stripes are gearing up to participate in various events across the state Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“It’s very, very busy,” Morris said. “It’s amazing how things have shifted.”

 

FINANCE DISCLOSURE FAVORED

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections hired Critical Insights to gauge how Mainers feel about the importance of campaign finance disclosure.

Turns out, they support it quite strongly.

Of those polled, 70 percent said Maine laws requiring public disclosure of political donations and spending are “very important,” according to Critical Insights.

“Voters believe the names of political groups and donors should be available to the public,” said Alison Smith, co-chairwoman of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections. “It keeps the process open and transparent.”

The Portland firm interviewed 402 registered “active” voters by phone April 9-16. The error margin is about 4 percent.

 

‘YES ON 1’ PARTY THURSDAY

Still Fed Up with Taxes is hosting a Yes on 1 victory party from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Millennium in Palmyra.

The group, which got significant support from the Maine Republican Party, is celebrating the repeal — by a margin of 61 to 39 percent — of a new tax law that would have lowered the income tax but expanded the sales tax to new items.

The event is free, but there will be a cash bar. The group will accept donations to help pay off debt.

 

GOP PASSES HAT FOR LEPAGE

The Kennebec County Republican Committee voted last week to give gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage $750 — the maximum allowed — to help fund his campaign.

They also are challenging other county committees to match their donation. If all county committees donated, it would give LePage, a privately funded candidate, a $12,000 boost.

The 80 people who attended an Augusta meeting tossed $500 into a hat, according to Treasurer Elaine Bridge.

“I have been doing this for years and I have never seen people so eager to donate, not only to help Paul become governor, but to help Republicans up and down the ticket,” she said in a statement.

 

BEARDSLEY GETS NO FINE

The ethics commission Thursday considered what to do about a late report from Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Bill Beardsley.

Beardsley’s treasurer filed his April report about two hours late after experiencing computer problems, said Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the commission.

He recommended that the commission rule that it was a late report, but that it assess no penalty. He said the late filing — just before 2 a.m. instead of 11:59 p.m. — caused no harm to the public. The commission agreed.

 

TWO UNIONS BACK MITCHELL

The Maine AFL-CIO and the Maine Education Association threw their support behind Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, a Democrat, in the race for governor last week.

The AFL-CIO represents more than 26,000 workers throughout the state and promises to “run a strong political program based on pocketbook issues” to help endorsed candidates get elected.

The MEA represents 25,000 teachers, professors and others who work for public school districts, the community college and university systems, and the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

 

R.I.P. ‘BUDRO’

Richard “Budro” Weegar, who served as doorkeeper in the Maine Senate from 2001 to 2008, died last week, according to the Senate Secretary’s Office.

“He was unanimously liked by both sides of the aisle,” said Assistant Senate Secretary Judi Delfranco. “He was such a happy person, and everybody liked him.”

Budro, a nickname given to him by one of his sons, broke his leg in January and went to live in a nursing home, she said. He was 79.

He had suffered significant personal tragedy in recent years. His son Andrew died in a tractor accident in 2005, and Andrew Weegar’s widow, Rep. Abby Holman, R-Fayette, died in a skiing accident in 2007.

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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