Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud both say they're likely to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe. Former Governor John Baldacci has also taken out papers to run. If no one turns away, it could become one of the biggest and most important Democratic primaries in Maine history.
According to the Huffington Post, Pingree and Michaud huddled on the House floor yesterday to discuss the race, with neither backing down from their plans.
Pingree also went on MSNBC last night, sounding very much like a candidate:
This week in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel I write about two letters. One was signed by 44 Republican Senators, including Snowe and Collins, in which they threaten to hold hostage any attempt to appoint a head of the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the agency itself is weakened. The other is signed by a number on House Democrats, including Congresswoman Pingree, urging President Obama to respond to the threat by appointing populist consumer champion and financial regulation expert Elizabeth Warren through a recess appointment.
While I wasn't able to reach Congressman Mike Michaud before deadline, his office later sent word that while he hasn't signed the letter, he doesn't support weakening the CFPB.
"He believes the Senate should act expeditiously to confirm someone for the position so that the law Congress passed, and the American people overwhelmingly supported, can be fully implemented," said Michaud spokesman Ed Gilman by email.
Rep. Mike Michaud spoke on the House floor today in response to a report from the Chamber of Commerce report claiming free trade agreements have created 5.4 millions American jobs. "In response to the report, I have only one thing to say: not in my district," said Michaud.
C-Span video here.
Got this pro-health care reform call yesterday from the DNC asking Mainers to call Rep. Michaud and thank him for his support. Not sure how widely it's being distributed.
Rep. Mike Michaud waited until the day of the vote to declare his final support for the health care reform legislation. From his statement:
The final bill is a vast improvement to the status quo of skyrocketing premiums that millions of families and small businesses currently face. The bill gives patients and doctors more control over health decisions, not insurance companies, and ends practices like denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and dropping patients when they become sick.
While the package that we will vote on tonight is not a cure for every problem plaguing our health care system, it is a huge step in the right direction that we can build on.
Both of Maine's Representatives, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud have announced their support for the House health care reform bill due to be voted on tonight.
Pingree has always been a champion of real reform. Here are her remarks today from the House floor:
Michaud waited a bit longer to announce his final intentions, but issued a statement today supporting the legislation:
We must come together and get the best possible bill passed so that the Mainers I represent not only have more affordable coverage – but coverage that meets their needs. Later tonight, I will say yes to expanding health care coverage to the thousands of small businesses and people in Maine who do not have it and, to those who do, making it more affordable and better. Today, I will say yes to ending the practice of denying coverage due to preexisting conditions and other abusive insurance industry abuses.
Being able to get quality health care should never be a question for any American. The bill we passed today is a good step forward. It will help make sure that no American goes broke because they get sick or is ever denied coverage. This is an historic day, but more work lies ahead. I look forward to continuing to work toward meaningful reform that is good for Maine.
Maine 2nd District Congressman Mike Michaud appears to be out of sync with fellow members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative Democrats in the House, on the issue of federal health care reform.
The Blue Dogs today sought to limit the bounds of discussion on reform, releasing a memo outlining the conditions under which they would be willing to support new health care legislation.
In particular, the Blue Dogs are seeking to severely limit the size and scope of any public option passed by the House. They are also demanding a "trigger" in the legislation that would delay the implementation of such a plan until private insurers have failed to meet "specific availability and cost targets."
The coalition has 51 members and, if they voted as a block, could potentially side with Republicans to scuttle health reform legislation in the House.
Michaud apparently opposes placing these kinds of limits on the health care debate.
"The congressman believes that we should explore all options with regard to health care reform," said Michaud's Communications Director Ed Gilman by email today. "He worked with the Blue Dogs to encourage the committees to have an open and bipartisan process in the formulation of legislation. He thinks this is too big of an issue to limit debate."
Gilman also pointed to a statement made by Rep. Michaud less than a week ago in which he called a public plan a "major improvement" and stated that he is "committed to a public insurance option."
While these statements leave Michaud with plenty of wiggle room on the details of any government-backed health care option, it's clear that he doesn't currently support the stringent conditions proposed by his fellow Blue Dogs.
In related news, Jason Levesque, an Auburn Republican and owner of a telemarketing management firm, has announced that he will seek the GOP nomination to challenge Michaud for the 2nd District congressional seat in 2010.
Congressman Mike Michaud is getting some press both at home and abroad for his letter to Obama on how to change America's trade policies. Here's an article in Portuguese from a Brazilian TV Network (which is, interestingly, the most-viewed network in the Western Hemisphere).
Michaud's quote run through Google Translator:
"The correction of our mistakes of the past in trade policy and globalization and the search for a new path can help our nation to confront the major economic challenges," said Congressman Mike Michaud, one of the founders of the Working Group on Trade of the House of Representatives.
The Spanish version of the article has been published by dozens of media outlets throughout South and Central America.
The legislation hasn't been submitted in Congress yet, but the fight over the Employee Free Choice Act in Maine is ramping up quickly.
Yesterday, Congressman Mike Michaud, labor leaders and top Democrats in the legislature gathered at the Capitol to highlight a new study from the Center for American Progress that predicts a 5% increase in union membership would lead to an infusion of $77 million into Maine's economy.
WLBZ has footage from that event as well as a press conference held by Maine business lobby leaders the day before:
Passage of this legislation will likely require the votes of at least one of a small group of moderate Republican senators, which includes Maine's Snowe and Collins. After a barrage of anti-union ads during the last elections, both senators have voiced their opposition to the EFCA, but groups both for and against the bill obviously think there's a chance one of them will change their mind or could be convinced to vote for an amended version.
First District congresswoman Chellie Pingree was targeted as part of a media offensive by the National Republican Congressional Committee against selected Democrats last week.
At first glance, it's hard to understand why they would think her heavily-democratic seat is vulnerable, but perhaps they thought the fact that Second District congressman Mike Michaud voted against the rules package they are faulting Pingree for supporting might have given the issue some traction. No media in Maine seems to have bitten.