McCain signs on for Emery fundraiser


LEWISTON – Former Congressman Dave Emery scored one of the biggest “gets” of the Republican primary with the announcement that Sen. John McCain would visit Maine to raise money for his campaign for governor.

McCain has a national reputation and is considered among the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

“Naturally, I’m thrilled,” Emery said Tuesday. “He’s certainly one of the most respected leaders in the nation. … He is very much in demand to appear around the country.”

McCain was included in the May 8 Time magazine list of 100 people who shape the world. In the issue, two-time presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader opines that he’s a “clear and active Republican front-runner.”

The Arizona senator is consistently conservative with an asterisk, bucking his party on environmental issues and the 2001 and 2002 tax cuts. He’s a deficit hawk who opposes pork spending and takes a hard line on foreign policy, advocating that more troops be sent to Iraq. He’s also a bona fide war hero, who spent five years as a POW during the Vietnam War.

“The GOP power brokers and right-wing conservatives in the precincts will need him as much as – if not more than – he needs them,” Nader wrote after answering yes to his own question of whether McCain could balance his independence with his need to appeal to Republican primary voters.

In 2000, Emery endorsed McCain’s campaign for the presidency and introduced him during a stop in Portland. According to Emery, the two became acquainted after McCain was elected to Congress and Emery was working in the Reagan administration as deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

McCain will attend a $100-a-ticket fundraiser for Emery and a $500-a-ticket private reception. The event, which will be held at 5 p.m. May 21 at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks in South Portland.

“It’s a huge success for Dave to have him come here during the primary,” said David Sparks, Emery’s campaign manager. “It’s not just the money he can bring, but also the prestige of his endorsement is a huge boost to us.”

In a similar visit in October 2005, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., a potential Democratic candidate for president in 2008, attended a fundraiser for Gov. John Baldacci, who is seeking a second term. That event attracted 200 donors, who each paid $500 for a luncheon.

State Sen. Peter Mills, Skowhegan, and state Sen. Chandler Woodcock, Farmington, are also seeking the Republican nomination to take on Baldacci. Both Mills and Woodcock qualified for public financing of their campaign and are prohibited from raising private funds.

The most recent campaign finance disclosures, which were filed May 2, showed that the $200,000 in public money received by Mills and Woodcock for the primary gave them a healthy advantage over Emery.

Emery and Baldacci did not seek public financing and must raise campaign contributions from private donors. Donations are limited to $500. Emery reported raising about $65,000 so far this year and has spent about $85,000. He reported cash on hand of about $3,500.