BANGOR (AP) – Two editors at the Bangor Daily News with close ties to candidates in Maine’s 2008 U.S. Senate race will play no role in coverage of the campaign to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, the newspaper reported Saturday.

Mark Woodward, executive editor, and Tim Allen, assignment editor, recused themselves from campaign coverage after conferring with fellow editors about apparent conflicts with Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, the Democrat who is challenging her bid for a third term.

Woodward worked for 10 months as Collins’ communications director before being named executive editor in 1997. His wife, Bridget Woodward, has worked for more than 10 years in the senator’s Bangor office and recently announced that she was retiring on Sept. 30, a decision Mark Woodward said was unrelated to his ties to Collins and recusal.

Tim Allen, who oversees the newspaper’s political, business, health, education and environmental coverage, is a first cousin to the congressman.

Internet bloggers and others had raised the issue, and the Daily News published a column Sept. 1 detailing the editors’ ties to the candidates.

Publisher Richard J. Warren expressed faith in the integrity of the two editors and praised them for ensuring their relationships to the candidates would not become part of the story of the campaign.

Woodward said having the two editors abstain from any role in the campaign coverage is “only common sense.”

“Although my wife and I have only the same stake in the outcome of this election as any other Maine voters, and nothing more, the appearance of having a conflict can be damaging to the integrity and credibility of the newspaper,” he said. “Our newspaper’s role in the campaign is to report the news, not be part of it.”

Allen agreed, saying the decison was in the best interests of the Daily News and its readers. “It should remove any doubts about the fairness of the newspaper’s stories on the campaign,” he said.

Five editors with no ties to the candidates will coordinate coverage, editing and placement of stories and photographs related to the campaign as well as news dealing solely with the candidates that comes from their congressional offices.

Woodward and Allen will continue all other aspects of their jobs until the election and end their recusal after it.

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