Down East 2013 ©
Summer in Maine is usually not a very political season. The Legislature’s work is done, any fall campaigns on the horizon haven’t yet begun in earnest, the general public is paying more attention to festivals and barbeque than politics and policy, and lots of people involved in government and issue organizations take some much needed vacation.
Leaders of Maine’s Democratic Party and elected Democrats, however, won’t just be working on their tans and their summer reading lists this year. They’re taking the opportunity of Maine’s summer months to attempt to reenergize their supporters and reconnect with their constituents following big defeats in the 2010 election and a bruising legislative session, where they lost ground on nearly every issue important to their party.
At a press conference Thursday morning, Democratic leaders announced a statewide tour  that will begin this Saturday at the Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield. They’re calling the series of events the “Get Real” tour and plan to make the argument that instead of fulfilling the voters’ mandate of creating jobs, LePage and the new Republican majorities focused on distractions and drove ideological wedges.
“The LePage Republicans are pushing a radical agenda designed to settle old scores and appease the Tea Party faction of the GOP. They have had a golden moment to meet voters’ demands, but instead picked fights over art, murals, and little beards,” said Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant at the announcement. “The Party of nonsense has had its chance. Now it’s time for the Party of common sense to build an agenda for working people.”
Democrats are attempting to tie the actions of Legislative Republicans, who will be up for election in 2012, to the controversial actions and policies of Governor Paul LePage, who won’t be up for reelection himself until 2014.
“Republicans in the legislature backed the governor and his extreme policies time after time. They voted against protecting our children from bullies in schools. They voted to roll back child labor protections. They voted to limit access to family planning for women,” said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, speaking at Thursday’s event. “They voted against raising the minimum wage by one quarter — and on the very same day, they voted for an estate tax giveaway to 550 of Maine's wealthiest residents. How does any of this create even ONE job? How does ANY of it help working Maine families?”
This is a different side of Democrats than we’ve recently seen in the Legislature, where caucus leaders in the House and Senate have made compromise and working in coalition with Republicans on the biennial budget a top priority over the past few weeks.
At the same time as Democrats are attempting to channel anger over what they see as overreach and extremism by the LePage administration in order to win upcoming races, Republicans are taking aim at the last major offices in Maine still in Democratic hands.
As Roll Call reports today , there’s a good chance that Maine Senate President Kevin Raye will challenge Second District Congressman Mike Michaud in 2012, potentially putting Michaud in a competitive race for the first time in several cycles.
Steve Mistler notes  that an outside political consultant who worked on Raye's 2002 Congressional run has lately been constantly by his side in the Statehouse.