LEWISTON — For the first time in more than 25 years, Maine’s Democratic Party faithful from across the state will gather in Lewiston on Friday for a two-day state convention featuring speeches by Gov. John Baldacci and Maine’s U.S. representatives, Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree.
Democratic delegates will adopt a party platform, hear from all four Democratic gubernatorial candidates and, on Saturday, hear the keynote address from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine.
Most events are scheduled to take place at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee and are only open to convention-goers, although several events over the two days are open to the public.
“We’re just looking forward to a good convention and hopefully the people who come here will be impressed with our communities,” said Ed Desgrosseilliers, chairman of the Auburn Democratic City Committee.
Desgrosseilliers said the Auburn City Democrats and the Lewiston City Democrats have joined with Androscoggin County Democrats to host a welcoming event from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday at Museum L-A, which is free and open to the public, and will feature a silent auction.
“We just got word that the governor will be attending that event as well,” Desgrosseilliers said.
The four Democratic candidates for governor will host public parties at downtown L-A restaurants Friday night, beginning at 8 p.m.
Mary-Erin Casale, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, said state and local party officials have been preparing for months for the convention.
“We haven’t had one there since 1984 and a lot of changes have happened to Lewiston and we’re excited to be there,” she said, adding that so far, about 1,100 people had registered.
Casale said the party would attend to formal business, such as adopting a party platform and electing county caucus members to the state committee, but there will be more to the convention.
“It’s really a time to get together and get excited about the upcoming election,” she said. “It also gives people a great chance to come and hear the candidates and make up their mind who they are going to support in the primary.”
Other events, beyond the usual speeches and party happenings, are scheduled. On Friday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m., two activist workshops that are free and open to the public will be held at the Lewiston Armory. They will be led by Democracy for America, a grassroots organization founded by former presidential candidate Howard Dean.
“They provide grassroots activism training for people interested in working at the local level, on the state level, just giving them the how-to in terms of fundraising, knocking on doors and what makes a campaign successful at the grassroots level,” Casale said. “You don’t have to be a delegate; you don’t have to be going to the convention, and you can just show up.”
The party schedule for the four Democrats vying for governor is: Pat McGowan at O’Shea’s Irish Restaurant on Main Street in Auburn; Libby Mitchell at Gritty McDuff’s across the street from O’Shea’s; Steve Rowe at Espo’s Trattoria on Main Street in Lewiston; and Rosa Scarcelli at Holly’s Own Deli on Court Street in Auburn.
On Saturday morning, a Women in Leadership breakfast panel for convention-goers will feature Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree and her mother, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.
Later in the morning, legislative leaders will give presentations to the delegates about work at the State House, and then the party platform will be adopted.
The gubernatorial candidates will speak to convention-goers on Saturday afternoon between 2 and 4 p.m. Kaine, the DNC chairman and former Virginia governor, is scheduled to speak immediately after that.
The convention will close with a party at the Shipyard Pavilion in the Colisee beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Voters who are not registered in a party and who want to attend the Maine Democratic Convention this weekend can register at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and from 7 to 9 a.m. Saturday.