PORTLAND, Maine — Michael Brennan and Nicholas Mavodones claimed big endorsements for their campaigns Tuesday as the race to become Portland’s first popularly elected mayor since 1923 hit its final month.
Candidates Mavodones and Brennan ranked first and second, respectively, in the Portland Education Association’s slate of four endorsed candidates, as announced during an afternoon press conference at Deering High School. Earlier in the day, Portland Tomorrow, a group of civic leaders that formed around the goal of finding a strong elected mayor for the city, named former state lawmaker Brennan its sole endorsed candidate.
A third candidate, consultant Jed Rathband, announced Tuesday that well-known businesswoman Roxanne Quimby — whose plans for a vast North Woods national park have triggered debate and garnered headlines over the past several months — has thrown her support behind his campaign by hosting a meet-and-greet on Oct. 18, at her Portland home.
Brennan last week also placed second in a five-candidate slate of endorsements announced by the League of Young Voters. In that list, he placed just behind League top choice David Marshall.
There will be 15 candidates running for the mayor position on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“I’m the only candidate to be endorsed by all three organizations,” Brennan said Tuesday of the League, Portland Tomorrow and PEA votes of confidence. “I think it shows that the campaign is starting to show broad support throughout the community. These are a variety of organizations representing very different constituencies.”
According to a statement released Tuesday by Portland Tomorrow, the organization sent questionnaires to the candidates and ranked those who responded using four criteria: A strong vision for Portland, broad support throughout the city, commitment to the job and an ability to build consensus and lead.
Brennan “has proven success at bringing together different constituencies to forge a consensus, including his tenure as a state senator and representative, a member of the [University of Southern Maine’s] Muskie School of Public Service, and years of service with the United Way,” said Pamela Plumb, a member of Portland Tomorrow and former chairwoman of the Portland Charter Commission, in a statement.
“Clearly, momentum is going our way,” Brennan said. “There’s exactly a month to go before the election and everybody is talking about how the candidates can differentiate themselves from one another. I think it’s pretty clear now that people are seeing me as somebody who’s emerging from the 15 candidates as somebody who has the right qualifications and is talking about the right issues.”
To come up with its slate of endorsed candidates, the Portland Education Association invited the candidates to be interviewed by a panel of the city educators, and the candidates were ranked based on their responses. Because the mayoral race is to be decided by a new ranked choice voting system, in which voters can rank all the candidates in the race from their top choice to last, some influential organizations in the city are endorsing a slate of multiple candidates.
Mavodones, the current Portland mayor as chosen by his fellow city councilors using the previous method of appointment, was “strongly endorsed” as the teachers union’s No. 1 choice, according to a PEA announcement.
Casasa said in a statement that Mavodones is seen by the union as “a ‘friend of education’” and someone who “shared our commitment to providing a quality education to every child in Portland.”
Mavodones, a former chairman of the Portland Board of Education, said Tuesday afternoon it’s important for the City Council and school board to work arm-in-arm for the good of the city. Mavodones last week also claimed the support of businesswoman and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli.
“If we want people to move here and businesses to move here, we need to have great schools,” Mavodones said. “Oftentimes there’s a tension there [between the council and Board of Education], and there doesn’t need to be a tension there.”
Behind Mavodones and Brennan, the PEA ranked its own member, Deering teacher and mayoral candidate Markos Miller, third, and former state lawmaker Ethan Strimling fourth.
Casasa said Tuesday the teachers union plans to be active rallying support for its four endorsed candidates.
“We look forward to lively campaign conversations in the weeks ahead,” Casasa said outside Deering Tuesday afternoon. “We intend to do our part to support our endorsed candidates.”
The League of Young Voters last week listed former lawmaker John Eder, Miller and Rathband behind its top two of City Councilor Marshall and Brennan. This week, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce leaders will review the candidates’ responses to the questionnaires the organization sent out and consider whether to endorse one or more of them.