Gov. John Baldacci welcomed a visit from another member of the prospective presidential list for 2008 last week.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack was in the state to brag about a consortium of Iowa, Maine and Vermont that is negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of drugs for Medicaid, which is called MaineCare here.

But the good relations don’t end with the joint drug venture.

Vilsack’s political action committee, Heartland PAC, contributed $20,000 to the state Democratic Party on June 27, a substantial gift.

Beyond the money, Vilsack is also giving Baldacci some good exposure.

The PAC’s Web site, www.heartlandpac.org, features a series video interviews with Maine’s governor under the header “Innovator Spotlight.” In the one off the home page last week, Baldacci talks about empowering communities. Click deeper and there are also short videos of Baldacci talking about energy and the environment, Dirigo Health, increasing youth involvement in politics and his important life experiences.

Vilsack is not the only candidate looking to 2008 who is spreading cash around. Former Virginia governor and wanna-be president Mark Warner’s PAC donated $5,000 to the state Democratic Party in April.

Drilling the drillers

No, that’s not really Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski talking in a political ad getting radio play in Maine.

It’s an actor. The ad even says so.

The advertisement was placed by Republicans for Environmental Protection, a 501(c)4 group with a name that pretty much sums up what it’s trying to do.

The ad has an actor imitating Murkowski apologizing to Mainers for trying to mislead them about the importance of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“I mean, we all know that the best way to bring down gas prices is to use more ethanol and other renewable fuels and build cars that get better gas mileage. And we know that drilling in the Arctic Refuge – or anywhere else – wouldn’t reduce gas prices by more than a few pennies per gallon – 20 years from now,” the Bizarro-world Murkowski says. “But if we told you the truth, you’d never let us drill for oil in a National Wildlife Refuge.”

Alaska has spent several million dollars to support an organization called Americans for American Energy, a pro-drilling outfit that would like to see ANWR opened for exploration.

Their targets have included U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who have opposed drilling in ANWR in the past.

Both have been members of the Republican group, and Collins is listed as a member of its honorary board. The ad tries to give the pair some cover.

REP is running the ad about 100 times over two weeks in the Portland radio market.

“We want to make sure that their offices – and Mainers – don’t become bamboozled by (Americans for American Energy),” said Jim DiPeso, policy director for REP. “We’re using a little humor to make people aware of the state of Alaska’s real agenda.”

Party traitors?

A pair of recent endorsements might have partisans shaking their fists and mumbling, “See, I told you so.”

Democrat Christopher Miller, who ran unsuccessfully against Gov. John Baldacci in the June primary, has endorsed Green Independent Pat LaMarche for governor.

Miller won 24 percent of the vote against Baldacci, not a terrible showing for someone challenging an incumbent in a party primary even though it’s still a 3-to-1 margin of defeat.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins made her own endorsement that might have turned a few heads. Speaking last week on WCSH-TV’s “207,” Collins, a Republican, said she supports Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman’s efforts to hang onto his Senate seat by running as an independent.

Lieberman was defeated by Ned Lamont in Connecticut’s Democratic primary.

“It would be a real loss not only to the people of Connecticut but to the people of this country were he not re-elected,” she was quoted by The Associated Press.

Collins is in good Republican company. President George Bush has refused to endorse the Republican, Alan Schlesinger, in the Connecticut race.

New digs

Green Independent gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche has moved her Portland campaign office.

The new location is at 635 Forest Ave., near Big Sky Bread Co. and Dunkin’ Donuts, which is good news for hungry volunteers and walk-ins fresh from a coffee fix.

The telephone number remains the same: 221-0263.


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