Primary season is over, but in some legislative districts the shuffling of candidates is still under way.
In fact, there’s at least one intra-party battle taking place in Senate District 21, where incumbent Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner, recently withdrew his re-election bid. Two candidates are vying for the Republican nomination to replace McCormick: state Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, and Ryan Wheaton, a West Gardiner small-business owner and teacher.
The Kennebec County Republican Committee will hold a special caucus on July 16 to decide who will be on the ballot in November.
The outcome may seem like a typical contest between two candidates in the same party. The race, however, reflects the struggle within the Maine GOP between the so-called establishment and “liberty” Republicans, who are tea party and Ron Paul supporters. The latter have been ascendant within the party, as evidenced by Paul supporters’ successful efforts to control the Republican State Convention this spring and send their delegates to the national GOP convention in Florida.
Flood is a familiar face in the Legislature, where he has served four terms and is the current co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He has also earned a reputation as a pragmatic lawmaker who is willing to broker compromises with Democrats.
Wheaton, meanwhile, has been drafted by Ron Paul supporters in the Kennebec County area. He recently described himself as a “more conservative option” to Flood in a story in the Kennebec Journal.
There have been rumblings that establishment Republicans have asked Wheaton to drop out, perhaps fearing that a far right conservative will be vulnerable in a Senate district where Democratic candidates have been competitive (even though a Democrat hasn’t won the seat since 2004).
But it doesn’t appear that will happen, which means the county caucus at the Manchester Fire Station could be a lively event. The outcome could determine how much money the Maine Democratic Party and Democratic political action committees will direct to support candidate David Bustin. If Wheaton wins, Democrats may end up spending more to win the seat.
The Falmouth Republican Committee has picked a new candidate for the District 112 seat in the state House of Representatives.
The local GOP last week selected 26-year-old John Logan Jones, a 2004 Falmouth High School graduate who later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a linguist.
Jones was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2009, according to a press release.
Jones, a Ron Paul supporter, was also elected at the Maine Republican Party state convention as one of the party’s 24 delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla. in August.
Jones, who is expected to replace GOP placeholder Patricia Kirby, will face Democratic incumbent Mary Nelson. David Savage, who won the 2006 election, was the last Republican to hold the District 112 seat.
Further up I-295, Brunswick Democrat Matthea Daughtry confirmed that she plans to seek the Democratic nomination for District 66. Daughtry’s announcement followed the withdrawal of Brunswick state Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx.
Andy Cashman, chairman of the Brunswick Town Democratic Committee, said the town committee will meet at 3 p.m. July 14 at the Curtis Memorial Library to choose a replacement.
So far Daughtry, the progressive activist who worked for the group Maine’s Majority, is the only Democrat to announce interest in the seat.
Fred Horch, the Green Independent candidate who lost to Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, by 192 votes in 2010, recently confirmed that he’s seeking his party’s nomination to run again in 2012. Republican John Bouchard is also running.
Elsewhere, Democratic state Rep. Herbert Clark announced last week that he’s running in Senate District 27, which comprises parts of Penobscot, Somerset and Piscataquis counties. Clark will take on Republican incumbent Doug Thomas.
Another Democrat, Brian Jones, announced that he’s subbing in for the placeholder in House District 45. Jones will compete against incumbent Ryan Harmon.
PINGREE GETS HELP ON FOOD BILL
Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s push to bolster local farms is getting support from one of the country’s leading activists against agribusiness.
University of California, Berkeley professor Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and other titles, recently tweeted that Pingree “was someone to watch” as Congress begins debating a new farm bill.
Pollan and other activists in the so-called new food movement have lobbied against the farm bill, which they argue, would continue to provide massive federal subsidies to corn and soybean growers while doing little to support local farms.
Pingree has criticized the farm bill for the same reasons. She recently introduced a proposal called the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act that she says will support local farms by allowing low-income people to use food stamps at farmers markets, establish a new crop insurance program for organic farmers and allow schools to use federal funding to purchase local food. Pollan supports the measure.
Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
State House Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: