Skip to comments.Congressional races will skip preliminaries [Maine]
Posted on 03/17/2004 1:33:25 PM PST by JohnnyZ
WASHINGTON Neither congressional race in Maine this year will feature a contested primary, since the filing deadline passed Monday for Democratic Reps. Tom Allen and Mike Michaud and their Republican challengers. But Michaud's 2nd Congressional District race in northern Maine could still become a three-way contest if a prospective candidate runs as an independent.
Allen, of Portland, who is in his fourth term, faces a challenge from Charles Summers, who spent eight years as state director for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.
Allen, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has won previous contests easily, with 64 percent of the vote in 2002. Summers, of Scarborough, kicked off his campaign this month, vowing to protect defense jobs, provide a clean environment and reform health care.
Michaud, of East Millinocket, a 22-year state lawmaker and a 30-year mill worker, won his seat in Congress in 2002 with 52 percent of the vote. He serves on the Transportation, Veterans Affairs and Small Business committees.
Because of the narrowness of Michaud's victory in 2002, the race for the 2nd District is expected to attract national attention.
Republican Brian Hamel of Presque Isle oversaw the redevelopment of the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. He will campaign for Michaud's seat on the platform that he is better able to bring jobs to the struggling district.
Hamel avoided a primary when Bob Stone of Lewiston, a retired banker, announced his candidacy in January and then quickly withdrew, endorsing Hamel.
But another factor in the race is Bangor City Councilor David Nealley, who left the Republican Party and said he might run as an independent. While party members had until Monday to file petitions for their candidacy, Nealley now has until June 1 to file a petition outside of a party.
"It allows me to keep my hat in the ring," he said.
Republicans believe that both Allen and Michaud are vulnerable for failing to provide for the state while serving in the minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Quite honestly, (voters) are frustrated and they'll be looking for some change," said Dwayne Bickford, executive director of the state Republican Party.
But Democrats contend that the incumbents, Allen and Michaud, are running from strong positions. Chris Harris, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said that Allen is "well-rooted" in the community and should have little problem winning re-election.
Harris said that Michaud is working to restore jobs with Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who held the 2nd District seat for eight years before Michaud.
"Having worked there, he understands what they're going through," Harris said.
The districts divide the state in half by population. The sprawling 2nd District is the largest east of the Mississippi River. It runs roughly from Lewiston and Waterville north to the Canadian border.
Michaud had $306,271 on hand Jan. 1, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. He and his opponent each spent more than $1.1 million in the last campaign.
Hamel was unable to raise money until leaving the presidency of the Loring Development Authority on March 1, but he expects to raise $100,000 by the end of this month, in time for the next set of federal reports.
Michaud prides himself on returning to Maine every weekend, while serving on committees dealing with issues that are important to the state, such as veterans benefits, increasing highway and bridge funding, and trade.
"All of these committees have important assignments for Maine," said Monica Castellanos, a Michaud spokeswoman. "He's working very hard to make sure we're on a more level playing field in terms of trade."
Hamel is a board member of the Maine Community College system and the Maine Winter Sports Center, which brought a World Cup skiing event to Fort Kent this month. He has been speaking at party events for months, with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introducing him at a dinner in Bangor on Feb. 7 and Snowe introducing him in Lewiston on March 6.
"They're very supportive and encouraging of my candidacy," Hamel said.
In southern Maine, Allen had $172,132 on hand Jan. 1, according to federal reports. He spent more than $500,000 on his last campaign. Summers and Hamel will each file their first reports April 15.
Summers has criticized Allen for giving up a seat on the Armed Services Committee, which he said showed Allen's lack of commitment to protecting Maine jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the Brunswick Naval Air Station and Bath Iron Works.
"I think we need people to go down and stand up for the district," Summers said.
Allen gave up the seat to claim a seat on the more powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, which handles 30 percent of legislation moving through the House.
Snowe - Summers' former boss - used a similar strategy when she moved from the Armed Services Committee to the Finance Committee.
Allen is working to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, protect the environment against the Bush administration's moves to undermine existing laws, and strengthen the economy, which has been hurt by massive tax cuts, spokesman Mark Sullivan said.
"Tom will continue to work on the same issues that have always driven him," Sullivan said.
It seems to me that Brian Hamel has a decent shot at Michaud because of the Jobs issue. Unfortunately Hamel is pro-abortion while Michaud is pro-life -- I think I would be forced to vote for Michaud.
Summers is the second Snowe aide to run for Congress in as many elections; Kevin Raye lost to Michaud in 2002.
I don't know what Nealley's deal is.