Maine Republican Party and the 'Hired Gun' Author
Alex Ray was the first executive director of the Maine Republican Party, a post he held from 1971-1974. In his new book, "Hired Gun: A Political Odyssey," he describes a deeply dived Republican party, explains how he won big victories for Republicans in the state House and Senate, and also gives lie to the notion of Maine politics being devoid of dirty tactics.
In the 1972 election, the same year that trailblazing Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith went down to defeat and Bangor Mayor William Cohen won his first congressional race, Ray was working hard to expand the Republican majority in the state legislature.
"I operated under the belief that recruitment is 70% of the battle," he writes, and describes visiting not just party activists, but barber shops, local restaurants and newspaper offices from Kittery to Caribou to ask about prominent members of the community who might be persuaded to run for a seat.
He then trained these candidates in campaign tactics and even personally designed much of their literature. His efforts led to supermajorities for republicans in both chambers.
These divisions can still be seen in the Maine GOP today, with the state party, legislative leaders, and Senators Snowe and Collins all maintaining their own political constituencies.
Ray's book also reveals some of the seamy side of politics in Maine. Ray relates how, after working to defeat a bill which would have been detrimental to paper companies, he received a call from a company executive offering him a large tract of land at a greatly reduced price as a way of showing their appreciation.
One example from his time in Maine occured during a special election in a legislative district around Mattawamkeag. Ray visited the Democratic candidate and posed as a reporter from Boston, interviewing him about his campaign plans. The party operative then used the information he gained to plan a strategy for the Republican candidate and helped her win the election.
Ray is mostly retired from politics now and living in Chelsea in Kennebec County. In the last chapter of his book, however, he hints that his career might not be quite over, writing "I hope to be involved in the 2010 gubernatorial battle in Maine."
In other Maine political news this week…
Susan Collins launches a bus tour.
Tom Allen announces a new ad.
The Maine GOP goes door-to-door.
Baldacci withdraws Adam Cote as a nominee to the BNAS redevelopment board.
The newest member of congress visits Maine.
Duelling pro and anti-union rallies are held in Portland.
Allen will speak at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday.
Justice Souter denies Herb Hoffman's Supreme Court appeal.
An organic farmer's nomination to the Pesticide Control Board is quietly scuttled by agricultural interests.
Beth Edmonds reflects on her term as Senate President.
The Bangor Daily News is not amused by 2nd District Republican candidate John Frary.
Obama uses footage from Kennebunkport in his latest ad.