Maine Democrats prepare for their own convention

Posted Sept. 01, 2012, at 5:42 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Now that the Republican delegates are back in Maine from their national party gathering in Florida, the state’s Democrats are packing up and heading to Charlotte, N.C., for their convention that will re-nominate President Barack Obama and seek to highlight what’s at stake for voters in the presidential election.

Maine is sending 37 voting delegates and three nonvoting party leaders to the convention set to start Monday, which stands to turn into a cozier and less confrontational affair than it was for their GOP counterparts in Tampa last week.

While Obama is the undisputed nominee unifying the Democrats, Maine Republican delegates became embroiled in a bitter credentials battle that divided supporters of Mitt Romney and challenger Ron Paul, who has a sizable contingent of supporters in Maine.

Democrats say their convention will highlight the differences between the parties and set into motion the fall campaign.

“The convention will reinvigorate the party base for the fall election,” said Barry Hobbins of Saco, a veteran of six national conventions, including one as party chair. “It’s really the beginning of the Democratic team coming back to the playing field.”

Hobbins, who is Senate floor leader, joins other state lawmakers including Sens. Philip Bartlett II of Gorham and Stanley Gerzofsky of Brunswick, and House Democratic Leader Rep. Emily Cain of Orono, as delegates. Also on the list are former legislators and party officials as delegates.

More than 35,000 media members, delegates and guests are expected during the convention. Obama is to accept the nomination Thursday.

Mary Erin Casale, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, who has made early visits to Charlotte in preparation for the event, said it will draw the highest number of delegates ever nationally. According to the convention website, nearly 6,000 delegates, up from 4,419 delegates in 2008, will take part in this year’s convention.

As far as Maine’s major candidates are concerned, however, their time will be better spent campaigning at home. U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud and Senate candidate Cynthia Dill will all remain in Maine.

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