The Political Grind

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What’s up with Richardson?

No one knows. Or rather, no one will say.

Since the April 1 deadline for gubernatorial candidates applying for Maine Clean Elections Act funding passed, three of the four candidates seeking the public funds have been approved.

But Democrat John Richardson’s application has not.

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Last Friday afternoon, staff at the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices would not comment on the status of his application.

The week before, staff had said approval was still pending because of some issues with the filing paperwork and missing signatures, according to a report on Maine Public Broadcasting. They also suggested the April 8 deadline for ruling on such issues was “soft,” rather than “hard.”

Calls to Richardson’s campaign were not returned.

If, as some suspect, Richardson’s application is denied, it would seriously threaten his chances to emerge victorious in the five-way Democratic primary. He would have to run as a privately financed candidate with individual donations capped at $750. Candidates receiving the public funding receive a minimum of $400,000 for the primary.

Calls made Saturday evening to the homes of Richardson and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills also were not returned.

McGowan, Mitchell stop by L-A

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Pat McGowan, who most recently served as Maine’s commissioner of the Department of Conservation, made two local campaign visits on Friday, one at Russell Park Rehabilitation and Living Center in Lewiston and another at Schooner Estates Retirement Community in Auburn.

The residents at Russell Park were all happy to shake McGowan’s hand and take a pamphlet from his staffer, but he really won them over by serenading them. The candidate borrowed a guitar and crooned “This Land Is Your Land” to about 20 residents in a common room; many clapped and sang along.

Libby Mitchell, another Democratic gubernatorial candidate, also spent time locally, making stops at an Auburn house party and a pair of community dinners on Saturday.

At a bean supper at 6th Street Congregational Church in Auburn, Mitchell worked the crowd alongside state Rep. Brian Bolduc, D-Auburn, who is running for re-election to the Legislature.

The people she’s met while campaigning have been concerned about the economy, but they are looking for reassurance and someone with a record of accomplishment, Mitchell said.

“They don’t want to look at someone’s plan for job creation; they want to know what someone can do for them,” she said.

Rowe raises money

Steve Rowe, also running for governor, announced Friday that he had raised about $424,000 for his campaign so far.

All candidates must file campaign finance reports with the state by next Tuesday.

Because Rowe, who is paying for his campaign with private donations, raised more than $400,000. This triggers additional Clean Election funding for candidates using public money. Those candidates receive an initial payment of $400,000 in the primary, but could receive up to $200,000 more in matching funds if their privately funded opponents raise at least that much.

More than 90 percent of Rowe’s contributors were Mainers, according to his campaign.

Though Rowe’s filing is not public yet, it appears he raised about $178,000 in the most recent filing period, after subtracting his previous total from the new total reported by his campaign. That’s about $10,000 less than he raised in the previous filing period.

Give peace (corps) a chance

National Peace Corps Association recently sent out a press release praising the Maine congressional delegation for supporting Senate and House letters calling for more Peace Corps funding for fiscal year 2011.

“Maine is the first state ever where all their legislators signed ‘Dear Colleague’ letters on behalf of the Peace Corps,” said Kevin Quigley, president of the NPCA.

Approximately 75 Maine residents are currently serving in the Peace Corps, and more than 1,700 Mainers have served as Peace Corps volunteers since 1961, according to the release.

Michaud’s vet bill moves ahead

Legislation drafted by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat representing Maine’s 2nd District, to help caregivers of veterans is a bit closer to becoming law this week after the House passed a final version, sending it off to the Senate.

The measure would provide education session for improving care giving, counseling services, respite care for family and other caregivers of veterans and health care and a stipend for caregivers living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a recent release from Michaud’s office. Michaud serves as the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.

“Our veterans make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country,” Michaud said in the release. “But few people know how much their families and friends give up to care for them when they return home.”

— Rebekah Metzler

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