CAPE ELIZABETH — State Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, confirmed she will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

“After giving it considerable thought and talking it over with my family and hearing from people all over the state, I decided I’m going to go for it,” she said in an interview.

Dill said she will bring “new energy and new ideas” to Washington if nominated and elected in November. 

“I’ll stick up for what I think are important Maine values: A strong economy first and foremost, but also a strong environment and education as well,” she said.

Dill, a civil rights lawyer, was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2006, and won a special election in Senate District 7 (Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, and the eastern part of Scarborough) in April, with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

She joins a growing slate of candidates running in the June 12 Democratic primary: state Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland, former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap of Old Town and Ben Pollard, a 39-year-old Portland home builder. 

Dill has been an outspoken critic of the GOP and Gov. Paul LePage. Last year, she founded “Friends of the Maine Woods” to support a proposed national park on land in Aroostook County owned by Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby (who donated $12,000 to the Dill Leadership PAC on Dec. 1, 2011).

The Legislature voted against studying the park in its last session, but Dill has still spend much of her time advocating for the park.

Dill also writes a blog called “Dill’s Conventional Wisdom” and occasionally contributes to the Huffington Post. She has been criticized for accepting $4,000 from her own leadership PAC in the form of a blog writer’s fee.

“Over the course of four years of blogging and reaching thousands of people across the state and the nation, the fact that $4,000 was used to support that effort is legal, good in my view, and approved by the (Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices),” she said. 

She said she is thankful Maine has good transparency and disclosure laws for political action committees and candidate contributions.

“At the national level, we don’t have those laws,” she said. “Sen. Snowe did not support the DISCLOSE Act, which would have let us know where a lot of the super-PAC money in Washington comes from.” 

Republican Snowe has represented Maine in Congress since 1978, and has never lost an election.

“Sen. Margaret Chase Smith was unbeatable until she was beat,” Dill said. “It shouldn’t be that a senator who doesn’t vote in the interest of Maine people can expect automatically to be sent back to Washington.”

Snowe also faces a primary challenge. Harpswell activist Andrew Ian Dodge and Scott D’Ambroise, a former Lisbon Falls selectman, are coming at Snowe from further right on the political spectrum. The Republican primary is also held June 12.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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Maine state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth.

Kaenrath to seek Dill’s seat in Legislature

SOUTH PORTLAND — State Rep. Bryan Kaenrath, D-South Portland, announced his candidacy for the Senate District 7 being vacated by Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth.

“I’ve done three terms in the House now and I’ve really enjoyed my work there,” Kaenrath said Wednesday. “This is an opportunity to have a bigger platform to talk about the issues I care about.”

Kaenrath, 28, is an MBA student. He represents House District 124.

The representative said his top priorities in the senate would be job creation,  health care and environmental protection.

“I’m aware we have limited resources in this state and we need to be conscious of how we spend them,” he said.

— Mario Moretto

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