The Political Grind: Maine gubernatorial race still wide open

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Home stretch

With a little more than two weeks left until the June 8 primary, the gubernatorial race is still pretty wide open within each party’s primary.

The Democrats, with four candidates in the field, just wrapped up their state party convention, which was held in Lewiston, on Saturday. The Republicans have seven candidates seeking the nomination.

In 1994 during the Republican gubernatorial primary, Susan Collins came out on top with a little more than 19,000 votes when she bested a field of eight. It was about 21 percent of the total vote. In recent history, gubernatorial primary races from both sides of the aisle have ranged between 55,000–80,000 voters each, according to state records. It’s likely this year’s Republican race will echo the 1994 finish, with the winner earning less than 25 percent of the total vote.

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Steve Abbott, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, has continued to roll out endorsements from varying groups and state lawmakers in the lead up to the election. Most recently, he announced the endorsements of state Rep. Rich Cebra, R-Naples, and state Sens. Jon Courtney, R-Springvale, and Carol Weston, R-Montville and the New England regional chapter of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The Democratic race pits three Augusta veterans, Pat McGowan, Libby Mitchell and Steve Rowe, against one political newcomer, Rosa Scarcelli. Scarcelli received a relatively cold reception from most convention goers who represent the party’s insiders, both during her speech and earlier, when her attempt to amend the party platform was soundly rejected. But her anti-incumbent theme has appealed to some across the state.

It’s likely these races will get more personal and visible during the final stretch.

Guess who’s watching

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins expressed concern to Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz last Thursday about information collected by Google for its street view mapping program.

Google recently issued a statement saying it had engaged in the unauthorized collection of user data from WiFi networks during its mapping activities, according to Collins. She asked Leibowitz if the FTC was investigating the matter.

“Google has already come in to talk to our staff about precisely what happened, because obviously this is just one example of why consumers have very serious privacy concerns about data that’s being collected,” he said. “So we are going to take a look at it.”

Collins, who was questioning the FTC official during an Appropriations subcommittee meeting, called the situation “troubling.”

“It has this great Big Brother connotation to it that is very disturbing,” she said.

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