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Greater Portland will see a flurry of presidential campaign activity Thursday after a quiet primary season so far in Maine.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, will be the only Democratic presidential candidate in a field of 23 coming to the state Thursday for a fundraising event in Portland. The campaigns of President Donald Trump, a Republican, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate, have set up other events headlined by surrogates.
The Trump and Sanders events were announced after Buttigieg publicized his 6:30 p.m. appearance at the State Theatre, hinting at a desire to capture some political energy usually reserved for neighboring New Hampshire, which hosts the first nominating primary in February.
There has been little to no presidential activity in Maine during the 2020 cycle. Only a handful of Democratic officials in the state have endorsed a candidate, and no candidate has held a large-scale event here, though author Marianne Williamson, a Democrat, spoke at an Eliot event in early July.
Thursday’s events will start with an economic roundtable led by prominent Maine Republican political figures, including former Gov. Paul LePage, former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and businessman Shawn Moody, who was the 2018 Republican nominee for governor.
The event, held at the Moody’s Collision Center headquarters in Gorham at 11 a.m., is part of an “Open for Business” tour by the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign. LePage was a Trump surrogate dating back to the president’s 2016 primary campaign. Poliquin did not publicly endorse Trump in 2016.
The Trump campaign event is for press only and won’t be open to the public. It will feature a panel of small-business owners, according to Republican National Committee spokeswoman Nina McLaughlin.
Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, the co-chair of Sanders’ campaign, will be hosting a free town hall at 3 p.m. at the Mechanics Hall in Portland. Sanders easily won Maine’s party-run caucuses in 2016, but the state is shifting to a primary in March 2020.
Nationally, former Vice President Joe Biden is the polling leader on the Democratic side, and Sanders has a tiny second-place lead over Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to RealClearPolitics averages. Buttigieg is polling fifth in the field, and he is charging a minimum of $25 for most people to attend his Portland rally, with a lower rate for veterans.
This story was updated on Thursday to reflect a change in the time of Buttigieg’s rally.