If Washington Post forecasters are right, New England’s seats in the U.S. House will no longer be held exclusively by Democrats come November. They predict that one Republican will win and say that person will be from Maine’s 2nd District.
The newspaper’s Election Lab gives Republicans a 69 percent chance of taking back Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s seat, on the way to likely widening their margin in the House and winning the Senate, now controlled by Democrats.
That’s good news for one of the two party primary hopefuls, Kevin Raye and Bruce Poliquin, competing in the June 10 party primary alongside Democrats Troy Jackson and Emily Cain.
But the analysis is somewhat limited. Because of the primary, the forecast doesn’t take into account which candidates will be running, it simply gauges the environment they will be running in, according to Eric McGhee, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California working on the Post’s calculations.
There are three main reasons the 2nd District could switch hands, McGhee said: The seat is open; national factors point in favor of Republicans this election cycle with Democratic President Barack Obama midway through his term; and the district’s share of votes for Obama in 2012 was only 4 percentage points higher than the rest of the country, at 56 percent compared to 52 percent nationally.
McGhee said the forecasters currently have the Republican hopeful beating the Democrat in November with 52 percent of votes: “Definitely close, but leaning Republican.”
The analysis doesn’t take into account the potential impact of independent Blaine Richardson, a conservative who announced he was leaving the Republican Party and running for the seat as an independent in March. He has until June 2 to submit at least 2,000 signatures for the seat.
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant pointed to the seat’s recent history in arguing that Cain or Jackson should keep it in Democratic hands.
It hasn’t been held by a Republican since Olympia Snowe gave it up to run successfully for Senate in 1994.
“We’re confident that the people of the 2nd District will vote with us again,” Grant said.
– Michael Shepherd
ENVIRONMENTALISTS ATTACK JACKSON
A national environmental group came out swinging in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District on Monday, announcing a $150,000 round of mailers.
Their target? Not Republicans, but Democrat Troy Jackson.
The League of Conservation Voters endorsed Jackson’s primary opponent, Emily Cain, in March. Now Jackson is on the league’s “Dirty Dozen” list, used every two years to highlight 12 candidates the group sees as being anti-environment.
Cain, a state senator from Orono, has gained high marks from the group, sporting a lifetime score of 90 percent on issues that matter to it. By contrast, Jackson, the Maine Senate majority leader from Allagash, has a score of 64 percent.
The group says its buy will fund five mailings to 28,500 voters in Maine. In one mailer, the group highlights two votes whon which the candidates disagreed.
One was in 2008, when Jackson voted with the minority against a bill that placed higher standards on carbon emissions at coal-powered electric-generating facilities in Maine – should any come here. There aren’t any now, according to the Sierra Club. However, there is one in Portsmouth, N.H.
The other was in 2011, when Jackson sided with majority Republicans to repeal the state’s pesticide notification registry, which allowed Mainers to be contacted in advance when chemicals are used near their homes. It is now a landowner’s responsibility to contact the sprayer and request advance notice.
Jeff Gohringer, a spokesman for the league, said Jackson “has a history of siding with corporate polluters on issues that matter.”
For Cain’s part, campaign spokesman Dan Cashman said Jackson’s inclusion on the list “further accentuates what we’ve been saying all along, that these two have very, very, very different records on this.”
However, Jackson’s rating is far higher than most politicians listed with the Dirty Dozen. In 2012, the majority of congressional candidates it opposed had lifetime scores between 1 percent and 9 percent. Only one was a Democrat.
The group’s endorsement of Cain also came about two weeks after it received a $25,000 contribution from S. Donald Sussman, a financier and frequent Democratic donor who has given money to Cain. Sussman is majority owner of MaineToday Media, publisher of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.
At the last fundraising deadline, Jackson was behind Cain 3-1 in cash on hand. Jackson spokesman Alan Brewer said the campaign was “amazed at the amount of money being dropped” by the league and called it “overkill.”
“I think it carries a message that’s different from the one they think it carries, which is ‘This race is too close to call,’ ” he said.
– Michael Shepherd
TROOPERS UNION ENDORSES MICHAUD
The Maine State Troopers Association on Monday announced its endorsement of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, for governor. Union President Aaron Turcotte said in a written statement that Michaud shares the group’s values.
“We know Mike has the qualities our troopers possess; integrity, fairness, compassion and excellence,” Turcotte said. “We believe that he will be an excellent governor and from our point of view, Maine will be a safer and more secure place under his leadership.”
The announcement came as no surprise to the campaign of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has tried to weaken the influence of unions during his first term in office.
LePage political adviser Brent Littlefield said he expects “every union in the state” to endorse Michaud. In an email, he suggested that troopers’ endorsement came from national union leaders.
“Let’s make one thing clear: if you elect Michael Michaud decisions will not be made in the Blaine House, they will be made behind closed doors in the big labor union bosses offices in Washington, DC where they are pulling the strings,” Littlefield wrote.
At campaign stops, Michaud often says that he always wanted to be a state trooper, but he went to work at the Great Northern Paper Co. instead.
Michaud’s campaign said in a press release Monday that he played a key role in securing funding for the trooper barracks in Houlton and played a role in building the Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.
“I’m deeply honored to have the endorsement of the Maine State Troopers Association. Every day, troopers and other public safety officials throughout Maine risk their lives to keep Maine safe,” Michaud said in a written statement.
Previously, the association has endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci and Republican Peter Cianchette in his run for governor in 2002.
– Randy Billings