Under The Dome: Inside The Maine State House 7-19-13

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Augusta, ME

Under the Dome: Inside the Maine State House is a regular update that provides a high-level overview of recent activity at the Maine State House. If you would like more specific information regarding an item in this newsletter or related to government relations, please contact a member of our Government Relations Practice Group: John Delahanty, Andrea C. Maker or Avery Day.

Augusta Quiet as Legislators Recover from the Session

Since the Legislature adjourned sine die during the early hours of July 10th, things have significantly slowed down in Augusta. This pause has provided some time to reflect back on what actually happened this session and to provide some analysis of this year’s events. You can find Pierce Atwood’s analysis of the session in our 2013 Summary of New Maine Laws & Carried Over Legislation.

Things will likely remain quiet in Augusta until the end of August. At that point, the various task forces, study groups and work groups will begin meeting in earnest, generating recommendations for the next legislative session. The one exception to the relative quiet is on the fundraising front. With adjournment, sitting office holders can now fundraise from members of the lobby and their clients and a number of fundraisers have already been put on the calendar.

Governor’s Race Already Drawing Significant Attention

The next gubernatorial election is well over a year away and the race is already drawing significant attention. Despite being this far out from Election Day, it appears that the field is set, with the three major contenders for this office being Governor LePage (Republican), Congressman Michaud (Democrat) and Eliot Cutler (Unenrolled). Having a strong sense of the field at this point in time is certainly a departure from the last election cycle, where both Party candidates were not known until they emerged from crowded primary fights.

Other than the early sense of the field, we have access to early fundraising figures. The reporting deadline for fundraising that occurred during the first half of this calendar year closed on July 15th. This provided a first glimpse at fundraising disclosures for two of the three candidates. Of course, each candidate did their best to argue that their fundraising results will translate into a win next November. Other than these limited developments, there are few data points in this race to draw upon. Regardless, this election continues to capture headlines and the attention of many political observers. 

Special Election for Open Senate Seat Set

This week, the Secretary of State announced that the special election to fill the vacant Senate District 19 seat (Sagadahoc County and the Town of Dresden in Lincoln County) will be held on August 27th. Senator Seth Goodall (Democrat) resigned from this seat as soon as the Legislature adjourned for the session due to his appointment as Regional Administrator of the Small Business Administration. Local Parties have until July 30th to pick their nominees for this seat. Area Democrats will caucus on July 22nd to select their candidate and Republicans will caucus the next day to select their candidate. Members of the Green Independent Party scheduled a caucus for the 17th, but the results of this caucus are not available at this time. Both parties view this as an important election and hope to use a victory here to say that momentum favors them heading into the 2014 election year. Regardless of the outcome of this race, Democrats will still hold a majority in the Senate. If control of this seat changes hands, however, Democrats will only maintain the majority by one vote.

Republican Party to Select New Chair and Vice-Chair on July 20th

Both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Maine Republican Party recently resigned from their Party leadership posts. The Republican State Committee is scheduled to meet on July 20th to select a new Party Chair and Vice-Chair. Former state Senator Rick Bennett and former state Representative Jonathan McKane appear to be the frontrunners in the contest to fill the Chair’s seat. Whoever is selected to fill these two leadership posts will have to begin working immediately on the August 27th special election for Senate District 19.