March 8, 2012

Democrat Pingree skips race for Senate

She chooses to defend her House seat and avoid a possible split vote that could hand the seat to the GOP. Will ex-Gov. Baldacci make a run?

By Jonathan Riskind
Washington Bureau Chief

(Continued from page 1)

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With U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree forgoing a Senate run, many of the 12 Democrats interested in her House seat are likely to skip the race.

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Summers said he is committed to running for the Senate and is now focused on gathering 2,000 certified signatures by the March 15 deadline. "I believe I will run, absolutely," he said.

Bennett, who lives in Oxford and is chief executive officer of a Portland investment research firm, said he is seriously considering running.

Pingree's decision not to run for the Senate seat will likely prompt many, if not all, of the 12 Democrats who have expressed interest in succeeding her to drop out of the race. Pingree is seen as the favorite as an incumbent in the Democratic-leaning district.

However, a potential opponent, state Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney, R-Springvale, said Congress is extremely unpopular and people are looking for a change.

Courtney, who owns a dry cleaning business in Sanford, said Pingree, who is married to S. Donald Sussman, a wealthy hedge fund manager, is out of touch with ordinary people.

"We need someone who listens to them and knows what it means to struggle to earn a living," he said.

Sussman, a frequent Democratic donor, is buying a 5 percent equity stake in MaineToday Media, which owns The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets.

Courtney began collecting signatures last week. He said Pingree's decision to defend her seat won't change his mind about running for Congress.

Other GOP candidates in the 1st District are Markham Gartley, a former secretary of state, and four newcomers with little or no political experience.

King said in an interview Tuesday with The Portland Press Herald that he would wait until he got to Washington to decide whether to caucus with Democrats or Republicans, basing his decision on "what's most effective for Maine," not an ideological preference for either party.

King declared his candidacy Monday. As an independent, he has until June 1 to submit at least 4,000 signatures to get on November's general election ballot.

Staff Writer Tom Bell contributed to this report.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or:


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