Libby Mitchell and her supporters kept a strong pace Saturday as the Democratic candidate for governor headed into the final days of a tough campaign.

Mitchell started the day at a Democratic rally in Portland, shook hands at a Biddeford High School football game against Scarborough, greeted shoppers at the new Trader Joe’s specialty grocery store in Portland, and met with a group of Sudanese immigrants before taking a break to prepare for an evening debate co-sponsored by MaineToday Media.

At the rally, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine praised Mitchell for being the only state senate president in the nation to have led the state’s House of Representatives, too.

“What an amazing record,” Kaine said, noting that Mitchell has legislative and public policy-making experience that none of her opponents have. “You don’t have to wonder about her.”

Supporters at the rally questioned whether sexism is a factor for those who challenge or disregard Mitchell’s experience.

“If she were a man, her experience would be recognized and valued, especially in these critical times,” said Sadhbh Neilan, former chairman of Portland’s Democratic City Committee.

If Mitchell didn’t have experience, Neilan said, her opponents would criticize her for that.

Mitchell promised her supporters that she wouldn’t turn back the clock but would build on her past efforts to reform health care, protect the environment and improve education in Maine.

She said she would work to create good jobs in areas such as biotechnology, composite-materials development and alternative energy. And she set herself apart from her Republican opponent, Paul LePage, “who said he can’t give his employees at Marden’s a raise because they’ll lose their (welfare) benefits,” she said.

Although recent polls put Mitchell 19 points behind LePage and tied with independent candidate Eliot Cutler, supporters said they believe Mitchell still has a chance to win in Tuesday’s election.

“It’s like a football game. It’s not over ’til it’s over,” said Doris Smalley of Kennebunk, who was campaigning for Mitchell and incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree at the Biddeford game.

Dave Schofield, chairman of the York County Democratic Committee, said campaign workers who have been calling voters and knocking on doors say Democrats are supporting Mitchell and undecided voters are divided between Mitchell and Cutler.

“I think York County is going to be strongly Democratic this election,” said Schofield, who was holding a re-election sign for York County Sheriff Mo Ouellette. “There’s no enthusiasm gap here.”


Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]