June 6, 2012

Political Notebook: Unclear why Poliquin is targeted

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Some delegates believe former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap of Old Town has a slight edge because he’s the only candidate from northern Maine, while the other three are from the Portland area.

State Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, addressed that issue in her floor speech Saturday, saying, “no Democratic candidate should be judged by her ZIP code.”

Fresh off their big convention speeches, Dunlap, Dill, state Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, and Benjamin Pollard will go toe to toe during a debate on Tuesday, one week before the primary.

The Portland Press Herald, WGME 13 and WGAN radio are sponsoring the debate, which will be broadcast live on WGME 13 and WGAN at 5:15 p.m.

DEMS EMPHASIZE NEW START

There was plenty of energy and enthusiasm at the Maine Democratic Convention this past weekend. But the shadow of the 2010 election was obvious, too.

Party leaders made no effort to gloss over the historic defeat two years ago that gave Republicans control of the governor’s office and Legislature. “We learned the hard way in 2010,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant told the delegates. “Your time and money will be spent smarter this year.”

Two years of being in the minority was just the thing to unify the party, leaders said. Organizers of the convention also made a conscious choice to showcase the party’s new leadership.

While former Gov. John Baldacci made a low-key appearance at the convention Saturday, two young rising stars delivered primetime speeches. Senate Assistant Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, had the delegates waving signs and shouting a new party slogan, “We Have Your Back.”

Maine Sen. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco, isn’t exactly a young, new party leader. In fact, Hobbins has hit his limit for service in the Senate and is running for a seat in the Maine House. But, Hobbins said, he wouldn’t be campaigning again if he thought Democrats would still be the minority party next year.

“We learned from our mistakes in the 2010 election and we pledge that never will it happen again,” Hobbins said.

POLLARD IDEALS APPLAUDED

The Democratic State Convention didn’t have the drama of the contentious Republican gathering a few weeks ago. But it wasn’t entirely predictable, either.

U.S. Senate candidate Benjamin Pollard gave an entirely unconventional convention speech.

He talked about the need for “a new public consciousness” and his dreams of world peace. He quoted Ghandi – “being the change I want to see in the world.” He even asked the delegates to hold their applause until the end, though he later admitted that was a bad idea.

“I made a mistake. I should have let you applaud all along because it gives me time to relax,” he said.

Pollard paused a couple of times when he caught himself  “droning on a bit” about foreign affairs or trade policy. “I’m going to try to step up the enthusiasm,” he said, taking a breath and sharing a laugh with the audience. “But you’re all doing great.”

Pollard may not have won the delegates’ votes, but his honesty and idealism got him a standing ovation.

Political Notebook prepared by Staff Writer John Richardson, who can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@mainetoday.com

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