For Maine race fans, there is no bigger local event than the TD Banknorth 250 held at Oxford Plains Speedway July 30.

First-time qualifier Jeremie Whorff won the race, but it was Republican gubernatorial candidate Chandler Woodcock who was hoping to draft off the popularity of the event.

Woodcock was a guest of Bill Ryan, who owns the track, and addressed the crowd before the bumping and rubbing of the rough racing began.

Not to be outdone, Gov. John Baldacci also worked a little pop culture power into his schedule last week. He was scheduled to introduce rising country music star Julie Roberts for her Friday night appearance at the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle.

Roberts’ second album, “Men & Mascara,” was released in June and debuted at No. 4 on the country charts.

Going to the biggest car race in the state, meeting a beautiful country singer – no wonder seven people are running for governor this year.

Newt’s coming

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, leader of the 1994 Republican Revolution and potential presidential candidate in 2008, will visit Maine in September.

Gingrich will be the keynote speaker at The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s freedom and opportunity luncheon, which will be held at noon Sept. 6 at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks.

Gingrich joins a growing list of possible presidential candidates who have visited the state this election cycle, including Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Finger in wind

Independent gubernatorial candidate Barbara Merrill added her support last week to a proposal to build a wind farm on Redington Pond Range and Black Nubble Mountain.

“Generally those of us with public responsibility are prone to find the middle ground: to split the difference, but in this case that is not what is needed. LURC needs to avoid compromising, because as we see every day this is a matter of life and death,” Merrill said.

The statement of support came as the state’s Land Use Regulation Commission held public hearings in Carrabassett Valley to try and determine popular sentiment toward the project.

Endorsed

Gov. John Baldacci was endorsed last week by the 25,000-member Maine Education Association.

“Governor Baldacci has not only been a friend of public education, but he understands the value of public education,” said Chris Galgay in a news release. Galgay is a teacher at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in SAD 39 and president of the Maine Education Association.

The union endorsed Baldacci four years ago.

The MEA also endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Snowe recently won two other endorsements. In July, Snowe was endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Maine Credit Union League.

“As a consistent and strong voice for tax relief, fiscal responsibility and affordable health care, it is clear that Sen. Snowe is listening to the concerns of small-business owners in Maine and across the country,” said Dan Danner, NFIB executive vice president.

New staff

Nate Walton, the chairman of the Maine College Republicans, has been hired by Republican gubernatorial nominee Chandler Woodcock to work as the campaign’s field director.

Penny Morrell is also new, managing Woodcock’s Augusta office.

Another poll

In a Rasmussen Reports poll released last week, Baldacci gained a little ground on Woodcock.

The poll, which was conducted in July, shows Baldacci leading 43 percent to 37 percent, up from 45 percent to 43 percent last month.

The poll also acknowledges that Green Independent Pat LaMarche and independent Merrill could make the difference in the race if it stays close.

Rasmussen also ranked issues in the state: 34 percent said the economy is the most important electoral issue, which messes with Woodcock’s general campaign theme. Other issues – Iraq, corruption and national security – would appear to be more directed at elections on the national level.


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