WASHINGTON — Speculation about whether either of Maine’s U.S. House members will run for governor is generating talk about who would replace them on the Democratic ticket in 2014.
State Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, said she is getting numerous calls from within Maine and out of state as she considers whether to run for Congress if Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud joins the 2014 gubernatorial race.
Cain told the Portland Press Herald previously that she would be interested in Michaud’s 2nd District seat if he ran for governor rather than Congress.
On Tuesday morning, one day after Michaud said he “definitely” will look at the governor’s race, Cain said she is talking with friends, her family and people who know what it takes to run a congressional campaign.
“There is no question that I am seriously considering and evaluating the opportunity to run for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District,” Cain said in an interview. “I have been getting a lot of calls and taking a lot of calls from Maine and (Washington) D.C. It’s exciting to think about.”
Cain added that she fully supports Michaud and would run only if he decided to seek the governor’s office.
The speculation is intensifying about who will run for the Democratic nomination for governor next year as the party looks to for a candidate who can succeed in what will likely be at least a three-way race.
In turn, that is fueling interest in the seats held by would-be gubernatorial candidates.
Michaud and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, are frequently mentioned as possible Democratic candidates, as is former Gov. John Baldacci.
The winner of the party’s primary would likely face Republican Gov. Paul LePage — who has not yet formally announced his intentions — and independent Eliot Cutler, who finished second behind LePage in 2010.
Pingree left that door open Tuesday.
“I’ve certainly heard from lots of people who are encouraging me to run and I continue to think about it carefully,” Pingree said in a written response. “But right now I’m focusing on my work in Congress.”
Pingree was selected recently to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s effort to recruit women for U.S. House races in 2014.
Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of MaineToday Media, publisher of the Press Herald.
If Michaud or Pingree runs for governor, it could shake up Maine’s political landscape.
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise announcement in February 2012 that she was dropping her re-election bid exposed how many Mainers had aspirations for higher political office.
A political frenzy developed within days of Snowe’s announcement as those with little interest in challenging a well-entrenched incumbent suddenly saw an opening.
Many of the biggest names in Maine politics — including Michaud, Pingree, Baldacci and independent former Gov. Angus King, Snowe’s eventual successor — began collecting petition signatures while considering whether to run.
That prompted many others to begin jockeying for the seats held by would-be Senate candidates.
More than a dozen people were exploring running for Michaud’s or Pingree’s seat by early March as the two members of Congress considered entering the Senate race. Both fields of candidates thinned out considerably after the two incumbents opted to seek re-election.
The deadline to file as a candidate in Maine’s 2014 gubernatorial race is still a year away, so no such scramble exists yet. But prospective candidates, like Cain, are reportedly watching to see what Michaud and Pingree decide to do.
Cain has received national exposure from her participation in NewDEAL, a political organization co-chaired by Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich that works to promote “pro-growth progressives.”
Cain spoke at a NewDEAL event in New York City last week.
Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:
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