LEWISTON — More than 1,300 delegates are expected to descend on Lewiston this weekend for the state Democratic convention that begins Friday afternoon under the banner “Victory Starts Here.”
Androscoggin County Democratic Chair Elaine Makas said Wednesday it “will truly be a pleasure to welcome the delegates, candidates and guests to Lewiston and to showcase the Greater L-A area.”
“It’s a lot of work for a lot of good people, but wonderful,” she said.
Sen. Nate Libby, a Lewiston Democrat, said he is excited to welcome party members “to our great city this weekend.”
Hopefully area restaurants, hotels and shops will see a decent bump in sales as a result.” Libby said.
He said he plans to use his welcoming address Friday to “highlight how the people of Lewiston have worked hard over the last 30 years revitalizing our city, how cultural and economic diversity are some of our greatest strengths and how Lewiston is writing one of Maine’s greatest comeback stories.”
Party leaders are generally excited about the possibility of regaining control of the Blaine House in November, and giving U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a two-term 2nd District Republican, at least a strong challenge.
“With a record-breaking number of Democrats prepared to attend our convention, it’s clear that we have energy and momentum on our side, and we are ready to elect Democrats up and down the ballot this year,” state Democratic leader Phil Bartlett said.
The two-day gathering at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee will include speeches from the party’s seven gubernatorial contenders, three 2nd District congressional hopefuls, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and U.S. Senate candidate Zak Ringelstein.
Delegates do not have much to do beyond listening and cheering, but they will pick members of the state committee and approve the party platform.
“After nearly eight years of Gov. LePage’s divisive politics and failed leadership, Maine Democrats are ready for a new day,” Bartlett said in a prepared statement.
“This year’s convention will give us the opportunity to unite around our desire to improve the economy, create jobs in every part of the state, make health care more accessible and more affordable, put an end to the opioid crisis that’s tearing our state apart and make Augusta work again on behalf of hard-working Maine families.”
While the convention is at the Colisee, several related events will be held at other locations, including activist workshops at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn, a Friday night reception at Museum LA and a Saturday breakfast at the Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center.
Each of the seven gubernatorial hopefuls — Janet Mills, Mark Eves, Adam Cote, Betsy Sweet, Diane Russell, Mark Dion and Donna Dion — is scheduled to deliver a 10-minute speech Saturday afternoon in his or her quest to round up support for the June 12 primary that will decide who represents the party in the November general election.
The three men vying for the chance to take on Poliquin — Jared Golden, Lucas St. Clair and Craig Olson — take the stage Friday evening, along with Pingree and Ringelstein.
An up-and-coming Mexican-American member of Congress, Joaquin Castro of Texas, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.
The Republicans held their convention in early May in Augusta.
Maine Democratic Party convention website