Baldacci recruits fundraising help

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AUGUSTA (AP) – Heading into a June 13 Democratic primary election with token opposition, Gov. John Baldacci is stepping up his re-election campaign with a string of fundraising events featuring prominent figures.

This weekend, the incumbent’s campaign has put together two higher-profile gatherings.

On Saturday at the Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono, Baldacci is scheduled to appear with former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2004, and author Stephen King.

Edwards is scheduled to be in Orono to deliver the commencement address at the University of Maine.

Contributions for the country club campaign stop are set at $500 for a designation as chair, $250 for hosts, $100 for friends and $50 for supporters.

On Sunday afternoon in Portland, the EqualityMaine PAC is bringing commentator Jim Hightower to The Breakwater School’s Daniel Crewe Building to support the Baldacci campaign.

Designation as host will cost $500 and the minimum donation has been fixed at $100, but “scholarships” are available, according to organizers.

Still in the works, say Baldacci supporters, are plans for a visit by former President Bill Clinton in advance of the June 13 primary, in which Baldacci faces former Dennis Kucinich activist Chris Miller of Gray.

The latest campaign finance reports filed last week showed that Baldacci had raised $383,692 and had $160,982 in cash on hand through April 25.

Three Republicans hoping to take on Baldacci in November – former U.S. Rep. David Emery of St. George, state Sen. Peter Mills of Cornville and state Sen. Chandler Woodcock of Farmington – are seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination in the Republican primary on June 13.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is running under the Green Independent banner.

To date, state Rep. Barbara Merrill of Appleton is the only independent or nonparty candidate to qualify for the November ballot.

Independents have until June 1 to collect and submit at least 4,000 voter signatures.

In December, U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, came to Maine to help raise money for the Baldacci re-election campaign.

On Tuesday, fresh from last weekend’s Republican State Convention in Augusta, the Emery campaign announced that Sen. John McCain of Arizona will attend a fundraising event for Emery’s gubernatorial campaign in South Portland on May 21.

The Democratic State Convention, also being held in Augusta, is coming up on June 2-3 with U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold serving as the keynote speaker.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Chellie Pingree, who lost a U.S. Senate bid to Republican incumbent Susan Collins in 2002 and now heads Common Cause, will be the featured guest at the Democratic Women’s League convention breakfast.

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