Dems elect Dudley as chairman


AUGUSTA (AP) – Four-term state Rep. Benjamin Dudley of Portland is the new chairman of the Maine Democratic Party.

The Democratic State Committee elected Dudley on Sunday to replace outgoing chairman Patrick Colwell, who announced his resignation last month shortly after it was revealed that the party had made a controversial $10,000 contribution to a Rhode Island political campaign.

Colwell was elected to the position in January 2005.

The party said Dudley will bring new energy and direction to the Maine Democrats.

“I will ensure the integrity of all Democratic Party operations and will bring my deep sense of responsibility, fairness and accountability,” Dudley said in his opening remarks at Sunday’s state committee meeting.

Dudley, who serves on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and was of a member of the Joint Select Committee on Property Tax Reform, unsuccessfully sought the House speakership two years ago.

Dudley’s selection comes as Gov. John Baldacci gears up for his re-election campaign and as the Democrats try to hold on to their slim majorities in the state House and Senate.

The Democrats hold a 19-16 advantage in the Senate. The House is made up of 74 Democrats, 73 Republicans, 1 Green Independent and 3 unenrolled members.