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:
One of Snowe's Republican Primary challengers, Scott D'Amboise, revealed in an interview with a writer for former Bush aide David Frum's blog FrumForum that he doesn't believe President Obama is a Christan.
The piece quotes D'amboise as saying "The President, he says he is Christian but yet he’s exercises a lot of Muslim faith too. Me personally, I’m a Christian conservative. I don’t hold any malice to anybody, whether they are Muslim, or Jewish, or Catholic, or anything else. I just believe that he needs to come forward with his views a little bit clearer."
Asked if he believed Obama is a secret muslim, D'Amboise apparently responded "I don’t know if he is or isn’t, but I don’t believe he’s a Christian."
The blog post isn't the best written piece on the internet, and does a lot of characterizing of D'Amboise's opinions while only providing very short quotes from the candidate, but the statements above seem both clear and extreme.
The results show that Tom Allen spent $21 for every vote he received in November, making his run the most costly unsuccessful major-party challenge to an incumbent anywhere in the country, per vote. Allen's votes were cheaper only compared to the candidates in tight races in Alaska and New Hampshire and incumbent Max Baucus' campaign in Montana.
Susan Collins spent more money, but also won a lot more votes, resulting in an expenditure of $17 per vote.
Those numbers pale in comparison to the third party per-vote expenditures. If we accept the totals reported by the Secretary of State and broken down on Herbert Hoffman's website, (which are probably way off) Hoffman spent $76 for every one of his votes while Laurie Dobson (who still probably thinks she's running for something) spent a whopping $528 for each of her 27 votes.
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza gives Susan Collins an honorable mention for best senate campaign of 2008.
In an election cycle where Republican senators in blue states were an endangered species (John Sununu in New Hampshire, Gordon Smith in Oregon, Norm Coleman -- maybe -- in Minnesota), Collins was never seriously challenged by Rep. Tom Allen.
Allen did everything a challenger should do in an anti-incumbent year -- try to tie Collins to Bush, hammer her for past votes -- but nothing stuck. The simple fact was that Maine voters liked and trusted Collins and saw no reason to fire her. Her campaign deftly took advantage of her high personal and job approval numbers by using their campaign ads to remind voters of why the liked Collins.
Her 23-point victory in a year where Republicans across the country were scrambling for their political lives speaks to the kind of candidate Collins is (wildly underestimated) and the quality of campaign she ran.
Pat Callahan sat down with Steve Abbott, Susan Collins' chief of staff and campaign manager, to discuss the recent campaign and what's next for the Senator and for Abbott himself.
The Collins campaign does some bragging by email:
Thanks to your support and hard work, the Collins for Senator campaign is celebrating a phenomenal victory – with 596 of 612 precincts reporting, 435,598 to 273, 213. That's 61 to 38 percent – a 23-point win! Senator Collins, whose race was specifically targeted by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and numerous out of state special interests, bucked the national trend and emerged victorious on Election Day. Here are a few statistics from the election returns that we thought you'd enjoy:
Susan won each of Maine's 16 counties.
Susan won all but 16 of Maine's 498 cities and towns.
In half of Maine's 16 counties, Susan won every single town, including all the towns in Aroostook, Maine's northern most county, and all the towns in York, Maine's southern most county.
Proving her strength with both Republicans and Democrats, Susan won the largely Democratic communities of Lewiston (55% to 45%), Biddeford (53% to 47%), Rumford (53% to 47%), Jay (53% to 47%) and Millinocket (63% to37%), and Madawaska (51% to 48%)
Susan out-polled Barack Obama, who won Maine with 58%.
Susan Collins emailed out one last web ad to her list today, again attacking Allen on the issue of congressional attendance. I imagine her campaign is thrilled to be closing the campaign sparring over voting percentages rather than talking about the economy or Iraq or a half-dozen other hot-button issues that are cutting against Republicans this year. If she wins this week, which seems almost certain, it will be because she has almost completely controlled the narrative of the campaign.
Dennis Bailey took a break from running CasinosNo! recently to offer Rep. Tom Allen some advice on his blog on how he should have handled the attendance issue.
As a former college football player, Tom should know you can’t score on defense. Here’s what he should have said:
"Yea, I missed some votes. There were times I had to care for dying parents and be with my wife who was suffering from health problems. Maybe Susan can’t but Maine people can certainly understand that. But you know what? Maine and this country would have been a lot better off if Susan Collins had missed a few votes, like her vote to give tax breaks to the very wealthy instead of Maine people; like her vote that got us into the Iraq War that has cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives; like her vote to (insert outrage here). On the votes that really matter, it would have been better for all of us if Susan Collins had taken the day off."
Allen is closing the race with an attack highlighting Collins' broken term-limits pledge.
Update: The Bangor Daily News has some (fashion) advice for Bailey, who they label as the state's worst-dressed politico.
To put Mitchell's encouraging comments in perspective, while he did enter the 1982 US Senate race significantly behind in the polls (after being appointed to the Senate in 1980), by a week before the election he was up by at least 4 points according to UPI (based on partially-reported internal polls). He ended up winning 61-39 over first-district congressman Dave Emery.
A better source of hope for Allen from Mitchell's political history might be his 1974 race for governor. The Press Herald gave Mitchell a 19-point lead over James B. Longley on the eve of the election, but in the end Longley pulled off a 3-point win to become the state's first independent governor.
Of course, polling has improved a bit since then.