AUGUSTA, Maine — With the addition this past week of Republicans William Beardsley and Steve Abbott, the roster of gubernatorial hopefuls has grown to 23. For those still keeping count, the breakdown is now seven Republicans, eight Democrats, one Green Independent and seven politically unaffiliated or “unenrolled” candidates.
There’s still a possibility that additional candidates will join the party-melee. But nearly all of the better-known people supposedly considering a run for governor have made their decisions clear by this time.
One occasional subject of the gubernatorial rumor mill ended any remaining speculation on Tuesday.
For several years now, a number of cars and trucks in the Bangor-Brewer area have been sporting bumper stickers with the not-so-subtle message: “Pete Vigue, Please Run for Governor.”
Vigue, the president and CEO of Cianbro Corp., told several hundred Abbott supporters in Orono that he’s not running. Instead, Vigue threw his support behind Abbott, the former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
‘Vacuum of leadership’
Since securing the 60 U.S. Senate votes needed to pass a health care bill last month, Democrats’ courtship of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine appears to have lessened.
But Snowe insists she plans to stay engaged. In fact, President Barack Obama sought her counsel on health care last week.
Yet Maine’s senior senator said the process has left her — not to mention many, many Americans — even more discouraged about the partisan atmosphere within the Beltway. And Snowe’s disappointment isn’t restricted to Democrats.
“I think there was a real vacuum of leadership … on both [sides],” said Snowe during a recent stop at the Bangor Daily News. “It should have been both sides bringing people together, no question about it. I have said to my own colleagues, there is a real problem. The status quo is just unconscionable.”
As for her own constituents, Snowe and her staff estimated that 53 percent of the feedback they received before Christmas was opposed to the Senate bill versus 47 percent in support. Snowe was the only Republican to support the Senate Finance Committee’s health care proposal but, after changes were made to the bill, she joined the rest of her GOP colleagues in voting against the final version.
Former colleagues now foes
A vocal former opponent of gambling in Maine apparently has had a change of heart.
Mark Robinson, who co-founded the organization that has spearheaded opposition to several casinos in Maine, has gone to work as a paid media strategist for the company hoping to build a resort and casino in Oxford County.
Robinson helped start Savvy Inc., a Portland-based public relations firm, alongside Dennis Bailey. The pair also started CasinosNO! While Robinson left Savvy in 2003, Bailey remains the public face of both the company and CasinosNO!
Robinson said his views of gambling in Maine began to moderate ever since voters approved the Hollywood Slots racino in Bangor in 2003.
“Nobody can disprove a negative,” Robinson said in a statement. “But now they’ve built Hollywood Slots, so this time there’s a track record. None of the Chicken Little stuff has come true, and if I’ve got a choice between the chief of police and a paid anti-casino spokesperson who doesn’t live anywhere near Bangor, I’m listening to the chief.”
His former partner, Bailey, had this to say in the Portland Press Herald on Friday: “I hope they’re paying him a lot of money. I think it’s kind of sad, actually.”
Rep. Kimberley Rosen, R-Bucksport, recently was elected vice chairwoman of the board of directors of the organization Women in Government.
Rosen, who is in her third term in the Legislature, said she was honored to be elected to the senior position in the organization. Women in Government is a national, nonpartisan organization of women legislators that focuses on policy issues such as women’s health and energy. Rosen has been a member of the organization for five years.
“It has been a tremendous education, and the valuable tools and information I’ve learned have direct application on the home front in serving my constituents and as a member of the Legislature,” Rosen said in a statement.
Here is a list of the few events taking place in Augusta next week, which has been abbreviated by the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday:
— Gov. John Baldacci will deliver his State of the State address to the Legislature at 7 p.m. Thursday, The speech will be carried live on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, and a recap and reactions to Baldacci’s address will be found in this paper and on bangordailynews.com.
— A public hearing at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Utilities and Energy Committee on a bill, LD 1504, that would require discounts for local ratepayers in areas where wind energy projects have been afforded expedited permits.
— Public hearings at 9 a.m. Friday in the Natural Resources Committee on two bills, LD 1662 and LD 1632, to mandate lower sulfur content in heating oil and biofuels to reduce air pollution.
— A public hearing at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on LD 1536, which would change the rules under which game wardens can stop ATV riders on private property.