Sunday, March 9, 2014
While congressional candidates got the spotlight at last weekend’s Democratic National Convention, it was the race for national committeeman that generated the most suspense.
Outgoing Maine Sen. Phil Bartlett, D-Gorham, defeated the incumbent national committeeman, Sam Spencer, by a vote of 550 to 450, the party announced Monday after the delegates' ballots were counted. Both Spencer and Bartlett campaigned hard, greeting the delegates as they arrived at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday and Saturday and personally asking for their support.
The outcome surprised many Dems and appears to be the political price for Spencer’s public criticism of his party during the 2010 governor’s race.
Spencer spoke out against mailings that accused independent candidate Eliot Cutler of being a past lobbyist for big oil and for China, both of which Cutler had denied. One said, ''With Eliot Cutler as Governor, Mainers might as well learn Chinese.''
Spencer issued a statement calling the mailings absurd, dishonest and unworthy of his party. Spencer is Cutler's godson but said at the time he was not supporting Cutler's campaign.
The loyalty issue was on the mind of some delegates during the weekend balloting. Bartlett, for his part, said he was running to unseat Spencer to raise the profile of the position as an advocate for the party.
One committeeman and one committeewoman are elected every four years to serve on the Democratic National Committee. Maggie Allen was re-elected as committee woman.
Cutler’s name was barely mentioned during convention speeches, especially when compared to the steady criticism aimed Gov. LePage, the man who edged him out for the job.
However, Party Chairman Ben Grant took a subtle jab Saturday at Cutler and OneMaine, a non-profit, non-partisan group founded by Cutler to promote bipartisanship. Democrats see the organization as a platform for a Cutler run for governor in 2014.
Grant told the Democrats Saturday that the party represents their shared values and is not to blame for gridlock in Congress, despite the charges of critics such as “one man… I mean OneMaine.”
Open Season targets all of Maine's political wildlife, from Portland city government to the donkeys, elephants and independents stalking the Statehouse and U.S. Capitol.
John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
John can be reached at 791-6324 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @jrichmaine
Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
Susan can be reached at 621-5643 or email@example.com
Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org