WASHINGTON – A rematch a decade in the making is on in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Republican Kevin Raye of Perry announced Thursday that he is running for Congress against Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

In 2002, Michaud first won his seat by defeating Raye with 52 percent of the vote. Michaud has been re-elected by comfortable margins since then.

Raye, the Maine Senate president, has been considering a run against Michaud for months, and formed an exploratory campaign in November.

Raye said in a phone interview Thursday that he will run an “issue-oriented campaign with a positive message to the people of Maine.” He said he will stress that he and other state lawmakers “respectfully” work through policy differences while bitter rhetoric and partisan gridlock grip Capitol Hill.

Raye cited bipartisan compromises in balancing the state’s budget and reducing state debt, and said he would focus on creating jobs and cutting federal spending if elected.

Greg Olson, Michaud’s campaign manager, released a statement saying that Michaud “takes all elections seriously and this one will be no different. Mike’s as frustrated with Congress as many Mainers are right now,” Olson said.

Olson said Michaud is trying to do something about congressional inaction by backing a bill that would strip members of their pay if they fail to pass annual budget and spending bills on time. Michaud will stress issues such as work he has done on behalf of veterans and also his opposition to foreign trade deals that he believes harm Maine workers, Olson said.

Last year, Maine Republicans tried to make the 2nd Congressional District more Republican through a proposed redistricting after the 2010 census. Instead, a compromise moved just Democratic-leaning Waterville and Winslow from the 2nd District to the 1st District, and a few communities the other way, producing a net gain of about 3,000 Republican voters in the 2nd District.

Raye, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is in his fourth term in the Maine Senate and is prevented by term limits from another Senate term. He runs Raye’s Mustard Mill in Eastport with his wife, Karen.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington has rated Michaud’s seat as “likely Democratic.” That category means, the report says, “These seats are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged.”

The Maine Democratic Party attacked Raye on Thursday, noting that he has disclosed on state ethics commission forms that a strategic communication company he formed, Down East Strategies, was paid in 2009 and 2010 by the Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents medical equipment manufacturers.

AdvaMed, as it is known, was lobbying in Washington at the time against the health care reform bill and a proposed tax on medical equipment.

Maine Democrats said AdvaMed’s members include companies such as Johnson & Johnson, which has had business before the Maine Legislature and lobbied lawmakers on a variety of bills, some of them sponsored by Raye.

“Raye should disclose how much he was paid by AdvaMed and the full scope of his work for the organizations,” said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant in a statement. “Mainers deserve to know more about Kevin Raye’s lobbying career.”

Raye said Thursday that he did not speak to Maine members of Congress on behalf of AdvaMed, so he was not a lobbyist for the association. He said he worked in 2009 on a “grass-roots” campaign in Maine to inform local companies affected by the proposed tax.

Raye said he met the requirements of the disclosure form, which requires only the source of income that represents more than $1,000 or 10 percent of a lawmaker’s income, not the actual amount earned.

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

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