January 19, 2013

Washington Notebook: Mainers play colorful roles in Monday's inauguration

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Members of the Gym Dandies Children's Circus prepare for their performance at the presidential inauguration.

2012 Telegram file/Gregory Rec

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Richard Blanco

"Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican in a state that's not. She's a moderate and bipartisan in a party that's not. Yet it would be tough for her to be any safer, politically, as she looks toward re-election in 2014," the article reads.

The Roll Call piece also quotes Republican consultant and Maine native Erik Potholm as describing Collins as "a political rock star in Maine" who "may be the strongest Republican incumbent in the country."

Like her recently retired former colleague from Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe, Collins is well-regarded by many moderate Republicans in the state as well as many Democrats and independents.

So the biggest threat would likely come from a primary challenger courting the conservative vote.

Of course, Snowe was pretty much considered a sure thing for Republicans in 2012 right up until the day last February when she surprised everyone by dropping her re-election bid. Republicans lost that seat to King, an independent caucusing with the Democrats.


U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, is proposing a public campaign financing system for congressional elections that would be similar -- in spirit, at least -- to Maine's Clean Election program.

Pingree and Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky are co-sponsoring a bill to create a voluntary system wherein candidates will receive a 5-to-1 federal match for donations below $100 from residents of their home states.

The bill is similar to one Pingree introduced in 2009.

"Clean elections has worked well in the Maine Legislature and it's allowed candidates to spend more time talking to the people they want to represent and less time on the phone asking for donations," Pingree said in a statement. "We should take the lessons we learned in Maine to Washington and create a public finance system for Congressional elections that levels the playing field and focuses on small donors."

Although popular with Maine legislative candidates from both parties, the Maine Clean Election program has its critics, who disagree with spending public money on political campaigns. 

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at (207) 317-6256 or at:


Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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