Howaniec considering second district congressional run

Posted Feb. 06, 2014, at 4:35 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 06, 2014, at 5:14 p.m.

PRESS RELEASE

FEBRUARY 5, 2014

CONTACT: JIM HOWANIEC, TELEPHONE: 207-777-3900

HOWANIEC ANNOUNCES EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE FOR MAINE’S SECOND DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL SEAT

Lewiston attorney and former mayor Jim Howaniec announced that he has formed an exploratory committee for a potential candidacy for the Democratic primary in the 2014 race for House of Representatives in Maine’s second congressional district.

The seat is being vacated by Congressman Mike Michaud, who is running for governor.

Howaniec said he plans to make a final decision on his candidacy by the second week of March 2014. Petition papers with at least 1,000 signatures must be filed with the Maine Secretary of State’s office by March 17, 2014, in order for a candidate to appear on the ballot for the Democratic primary election, which will be held on June 10, 2014.

Howaniec said he is assessing the feasibility of running a campaign while simultaneously maintaining a busy criminal defense law practice. He currently has several complicated cases approaching trial, including the double manslaughter case of Kristina Lowe, an Oxford County teen charged with texting and driving during a fatal accident in West Paris in 2012. Howaniec is also representing Michael Callahan, who has pled not criminally responsible by reason of insanity to charges of attempted murder and multiple counts of arson as a result of incidents in Minot in 2012 and 2013. Both cases are scheduled for lengthy trials later this spring.

“Unfortunately, we will be spending most of the next five weeks exploring financial support for my candidacy,” said Howaniec. “Raising campaign contributions is the least pleasant aspect of running a campaign but it is a fact of life in politics today.”

Howaniec, 55, resides in Lewiston. He served as the city’s mayor — one of the youngest in the country — from 1990-1994, and has operated his own law practice at the same location on Lisbon Street since 1991. He also previously served on the Lewiston City Council, School Committee, and Zoning Board of Appeals. He served as an Assistant Attorney General in Augusta in the late 1980s. He previously ran for the same Congressional seat in 1994, in a race eventually won by John Baldacci.

During his term as mayor, the city established a redevelopment group that led to the rehabilitation of the Bates Mill complex and resulted in hundreds of service sector jobs locating into the area. The city developed a landfill, recycling, and waste management program that was recognized nationally at the time. Funding for the sports fields at Lewiston High School was secured during his administration through a federal grant, and the city’s public theater was built in the downtown, where it has thrived for over 20 years. A downtown and riverfront revitalization plan was established, with many of its proposals having been implemented successfully over the past two decades. He traveled to Russia as part of a U.S. delegation of young political leaders that met with counterparts there.

Howaniec served as president of the Maine Conference of Mayors, and testified before congressional committees in Washington, D.C., and state house committees in Augusta on issues affecting local government. Howaniec, a Democrat, says he is especially proud of his ability to work with Republican governor John McKernan and other Republicans in the state legislature during a difficult recession in the early 1990s.

“Maine has a strong history of legislators who have reached across the aisle in an effort to make government work,’ said Howaniec. “I would like to continue that tradition during these difficult times.” Howaniec cited the likes of George Mitchell, Olympia Snowe, Margaret Chase Smith, Ed Muskie, William Cohen, and others whose bipartisanship he would like to attempt to emulate.

Howaniec said he is liberal on social issues and conservative on fiscal issues. He considers the growth in federal debt among the most pressing of issues facing the country today.

Howaniec said that his years as mayor of a financially strapped city and operating his own private sector business have given him a perspective that is unique among the other candidates in the field. State legislators Troy Jackson, Alden Smith, and Emily Cain have announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination. Kevin Raye and Bruce Poliquin are running in the Republican primary, with Blaine Richardson recently announcing his candidacy as an Independent in the November general election.

“This seems like a wide open race,” said Howaniec. “If we can maintain a base of support here in Androscoggin and Oxford counties and raise enough money to compete in the Bangor media market, I believe we can win.”

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