Wednesday October 31, 2012 | 02:14 PM

There have been several national reports about Sensata Technologies in Freeport, Ill., where workers have been staging protests over the Bain Capital-owned company's plans to close the facility and move its 170 manufacturing jobs to China.

Democratic activists have politicized the closing in an attempt to link it to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Soon-to-be-unemployed workers at Sensata argue that Romney, who owns a controlling stake in Bain, will financially benefit from the outsourcing of American jobs.

So what does Sensata have to do with Maine? Prior to 2007, the manufacturer of sensors and controls for automobiles and airplanes had a plant in Standish that employed 200 people. Sensata decided to close the plant in January 2007, moving its operations and jobs to the Dominican Republic. Bain had purchased Sensata, formerly known as Texas Instruments Sensors and Controls, nine months earlier

Romney wasn't calling the shots at Bain in 2007. He left the company in 2002 and continues to hold a financial stake in the company.

The Standish plant closing was a blow to the region. Former state Republican Rep. Gary Moore pushed former Gov. John Baldacci to prevent the closing but to no avail. According to reports in the Portland Press Herald, the U.S. Department of Labor gave the state $780,000 for worker retraining efforts after the company left.

Some have suggested that the plant closing also played into the 2007 presidential election. A story in the Portland Press Herald quoted local officials who suggested that Sensata's departure may have been a reason that Barack Obama carried the typically Republican-leaning Standish district.

In 2004, George W. Bush defeated Democratic candidate John Kerry in Standish by 285 votes. In 2007, Obama carried the district by 381 votes over Republican John McCain.

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
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