July 3, 2012

Democratic Senate candidates promise King a fight

The four Democrats seeking the nomination appeal for support and attack the GOP and former Gov. Angus King.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA - Maine's four Democratic U.S. Senate candidates took the stage at the party's state convention Saturday, promising not to back away from a fight with Republicans or former Gov. Angus King.

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Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley gives the keynote address at the Maine Democratic convention Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Photos by Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

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Senate candidate Cynthia Dill speaks at the Maine Democratic Convention today. Dill said Democrats can’t shy from a fight with independent candidate Angus King out of fear that it could help the Republican candidate win.

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Hundreds of party activists from around the state filled the Augusta Civic Center Saturday for the second day of the three-day event, part business meeting and part political rally. The convention provided the biggest and most important stage yet for the four U.S. Senate candidates seeking the party's nomination in the June 12 primary.

The candidates appealed for support and took shots at Republicans and the tea party for causing gridlock in Washington and catering to the rich at the expense of working people. They also took on King, urging Democrats not to settle for an independent who doesn't share all of the party's values.

State Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth spoke about her background as a civil rights attorney, saying she will "go toe to toe with anybody, even guys with big money and a big name."

Dill urged the Democrats not to shy from a fight with King out of fear that it could help the Republican candidate win.

"If we concede this seat out of fear, fear will forever guide us and we will no longer be the party of hope," she said.

Dill called King a "misnamed independent" who has a record of not supporting working families. "It is Democrats who can stop this race to the bottom," she said. "It's not Democrats who are failing the nation, nor is it we who should back away from our platform. The Republican Party is unhinged, unreasonable and responsible for the Washington gridlock."

Former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap of Old Town said he is running to help struggling, hardworking people and provide opportunities for young Mainers.

"Maybe somebody should be thinking about the working families and not the millionaires," he said.

He also warned against giving the race to King, saying Democrats should not "settle for something less to prevent something worse. ... Meeting the tea party halfway will still take us back half a century, and you can bet they will not stop there."

Dunlap brought the delegates to their feet, pounding the podium and urging them to keep standing up for people who are cold, hungry or poor.

"I will stand for you. Will you stand with the poor? Will you stand for the sick? Will you stand for the desperate? Will you stand with me?"

Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland highlighted his record as a co-founder of Greenpeace, a lawyer who took on big corporations such as Exxon and a lawmaker who has worked for cleaner air and water.

Hinck said King supports Republican causes and may give Republicans a majority in the Senate because he won't say which party he would caucus with. And Republicans, he told the crowd, are the people responsible for environmental destruction, the war on women and mistakes such as the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts.

"Let's not let the party who championed those mistakes tell us how to fix it. We'll do it," Hinck said. "I don't even want to hear someone who might want to caucus with that party tell us how to fix it. ... We are the party that recognizes we are in this together."

Portland businessman Benjamin Pollard spoke about the idealism that led him to run as the unconventional alternative in the race.

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Senate candidate Matt Dunlap told the crowd Democrats should not “settle for something less to prevent something worse.”

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Senate candidate Jon Hinck gets the whispered word from his wife, Juliet Browne, that his speaking time is running out. Hinck, who highlighted his record as an environmental activist, said Democrats can’t settle for electing King because he supports Republican causes.

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Senate candidate Ben Pollard Pollard said he is the best equipped to beat King. "We need somebody different. I am different," he said.

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