Tuesday, March 11, 2014
State Sen. Cynthia Dill has won the Democratic party nomination for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, but she still hasn't received the backing of national Democrats.
According to a report in The Hill, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray was noncommittal about whether the DSCC would financially support Dill in her effort to defeat Republican Charlie Summers and presumed front-runner independent Angus King.
"We're talking to a lot of people on the ground in Maine,” Murray said. “[Senate Republican Leader] Mitch McConnell's [(Ky.)] already said that he has written Maine off, so I feel very good about it.”
The Hill piece segues into the well-worn theory that King will caucus with Democrats if he wins the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. In case you haven't heard, King has repeatedly declined to say who he'll caucus with. Republicans, meawhile, continue to label King as a closet Democrat, an strategy they hope will erode the former governor's appeal with some Republican voters.
Murray's comments are interesting because it highlights a tricky situation for the Democratic party nationally and especially in Maine. Nationally, the party is sensitive to GOP claims that Democrats are backing King. Locally, Democrats are trying to diminish the perception that their top candidates decided not take on a popular independent either because they couldn't win or they were afraid another tight three-way race would hand the senate seat to the GOP.
Dill's primary win complicates the dynamic. The state legislator hasn't taken the traditional path to the nomination, which is to say, she hasn't been elected to legislative leadership and her decision to run for the U.S. Senate wasn't encouraged by the party establishment.
Dill, meanwhile, is left in the difficult position of needing the party's financial backing.
“The party in Maine is clearly behind me," she told The Hill. "I think that's very important, and I hope to earn the support of my colleagues in the national Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee came out in full support of Summers, according to The Hill story.
"It's fine for Angus King and Democratic leaders in Washington to step out from their smoke-filled back room and admit the obvious: that this is a race between two liberal Democrats and a true independent leader in Charlie Summers," NRSC Chairman Brian Walsh said.Tweet
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.