LEWISTON — For Maine Democrats gathering this weekend for their state convention, one of the first orders of business today was fine-tuning a platform that couldn’t be more different than the one adopted by Republicans at the GOP convention.

Democratic campaign director Arden Manning said he didn’t expect any platform theatrics during Saturday’s vote, two weeks after the conservative takeover of the GOP platform.

“I don’t think you’re going to see the fireworks,” Manning said. “I think we’re more unified.”

About 1,000 Democrats were gathering at the Colisee in Lewiston, which is hosting the convention for the first time since 1984.

Convention highlights include addresses by four gubernatorial candidates, honors for Gov. John Baldacci at his last Democratic convention, and a keynote address by Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, all of which were scheduled for Saturday.

Baldacci, who’s completing his second term in the Blaine House, said he’s getting “ready to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders.

“I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we’ve given them a foundation in which to really run with, and do good things,” he said.

Today’s agenda included a platform committee meeting, an event that normally would receive scant attention.

But the brouhaha over the GOP platform renewed focus on platforms.

Democrats’ proposed platform declares health care to be a fundamental right, delivers promised social services and promotes stronger communities by ensuring a livable wage, affordable housing and other essentials. When it comes to the Bill of Rights, the document focuses more on free speech than the right to bear arms.

The GOP platform, adopted by conservatives and tea party sympathizers, declared health care to be a service, not a right, and proposed a smaller and less restrictive government. It reaffirms the right to bear arms, the sanctity of life and national and state sovereignty.

Manning said the takeover of the GOP platform that represented a wholesale replacement of the original document showed the Republicans’ true colors.

“It’s pretty clear to me, especially after the GOP convention, that the tea party and the Republican Party are one in the same,” Manning said.

Andrew Ian Dodge, Maine coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said the tea party movement is generally nonpartisan, and that there are tea partiers within the Democratic ranks.

“Democrats need to realize there are a lot of members of the tea party who are Democratic,” he said. “Our votes are up for grabs. To write them all off as just a Republican front is foolish,” he said.


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