AUGUSTA (AP) – Both of Maine’s congressmen are Democrats but while 1st District Rep. Tom Allen seems comfortably ensconced in office midway through a fourth term, 2nd District Rep. Michael Michaud is a rookie.

That puts Michaud in the most vulnerable period for a congressional incumbent, according to conventional wisdom.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has kept close tabs on the former state lawmaker from East Millinocket and has sought to highlight elements of his voting record at odds with GOP positions in frequent media releases.

Not without allies, however, Michaud was the beneficiary of an Augusta fund-raising reception Monday night with Gov. John Baldacci and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe serving as headliners.

Absent was Michaud himself. Earlier in the day, he and Allen voted in the minority to oppose a $373 billion spending bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The measure was passed on a vote of 242-176.

Voting “yes” were 58 Democrats and 184 Republicans. Voting “no” were 137 Democrats, 38 Republicans and one independent.

Along with top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, McAuliffe addressed the 2002 Democratic State Convention, shortly before Michaud secured the Democratic nomination for the northern Maine congressional seat.

Thirteen months ago in the general election, Michaud defeated Republican Kevin Raye in a contest to succeed Baldacci, who served eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives before returning to Maine and entering the Blaine House.

To date, it remains unclear who Republicans will put up for Congress in 2004.

At the top of the ticket next year will be the presidential candidates and Maine Republicans are hoping to reverse the most recent trend.

In August on a stop in Maine, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie predicted that President Bush will carry Maine – something no Republican presidential candidate has done since 1988.

The Democratic string of presidential election victories in Maine has produced defeats for the current president in 2000 and for his father in 1992.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore took Maine’s general election, outpolling Bush by 49 percent to 44 percent as Ralph Nader claimed 6 percent of the vote.

Neither of Maine’s Republican U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, is up for election next year.

On the state level, Baldacci is Maine’s first Democratic governor since the mid-1980s. Currently, he is the only Democratic governor in New England.

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