Wednesday December 07, 2011 | 09:57 AM

Democrat Matt Dunlap of Old Town says he is holding the public launch for his 2012 U.S. Senate bid Saturday where he began his political career, a union hall in his home town. 

Dunlap, a former Maine Secretary of State, is facing state Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland in the Democratic primary next year for the Senate seat held by GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Hinck formally kicked off his campaign Nov. 12 at the University of Maine in Orono.

Dunlap filed papers in late October with the Federal Election Commission officially declaring his candidacy, but said he has been spending time ahead of Saturday’s public launch “building up a campaign structure” and fundraising.

Dunlap said he is running because, “My wife and I worry about how we can make sure that our 10-year-old daughter has the same opportunity to live and work in Maine that we have. What has been happening in Washington has not really been working for us and it is time to do something different.”

The event Saturday will be at the United Steel Workers Local 80 in Old Town, where Dunlap campaigned in 1996 when he first won the Maine House seat he held for four terms. Dunlap was Maine Secretary of State from 2005-2010, when he lost a bid to be re-elected to that post by the Maine Legislature.

“It’s one of the first places I went to when I was running for the Legislature 15 years ago,” Dunlap said of Local 80. “The guys in that union and who use that hall are neighbors and friends of mine. I really wanted to start (the Senate campaign) where I started, and that is Old Town.”

In the Maine House, Dunlap, 47, served on the committee overseeing inland fisheries and wildlife and stresses his involvement in outdoors activities such as hunting and fishing.

Dunlap most recently was interim executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine - and remains on the board - before he stepped down earlier this year to make his Senate run.

Hinck, 57, is an attorney and environmental activist in Portland whose practice includes a focus on litigation involving consumer and environmental issues. He has worked for the Natural Resources Council of Maine and was a co-founder of the environmental group Greenpeace USA. He is giving up running for a fourth term in the Legislature to make the Senate bid.

Snowe is being challenged from the right in the GOP primary by two tea party-affiliated candidates, Scott D'Amboise of Lisbon Falls and Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell.

Snowe won re-election in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote and had more than $3.2 million in campaign cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

 

 

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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