A campaign bus for Michael Bloomberg makes a lunchtime stop Tuesday at Simones’ Hot Dog stand in Lewiston. Steve Collins/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Armed with a new poll that shows Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders could prove toxic to his party’s congressional contenders in swing districts, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is hoping to make inroads in Maine.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat who called himself “all in” for Bloomberg, said Tuesday that Sanders has “a set of ideas that are going to be a really difficult sell” in places like Maine’s sprawling, rural 2nd Congressional District.

Diane Grandmaison of Lewiston, a longtime Democratic activist, recently switched her allegiance in the presidential race to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

A Bloomberg campaign poll of voters in 42 battleground House districts currently held by Democrats — including Maine’s 2nd — found 39% of voters in swing districts say they are less likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress if Sanders is at the top of the ticket. The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group.

The pollsters said: “Sanders and his socialist ideas will have a negative impact on the Democratic incumbents running in these competitive districts. Sanders is less popular than Trump, loses significant support when attacked for his socialist positions, and will negatively impact these vulnerable Democrats if he heads the top of the Democratic ticket.”

Since the poll found that 21% are more likely to cast their ballots for a Democrat in the U.S. House races in swing districts, it essentially determined that about a fifth of voters in districts such as Maine’s 2nd District are more likely to vote Republican if Sanders is the Democratic presidential nominee.

That could spell trouble for first-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston, a Democrat who won one of the closest races in the country in 2018. There are three Republicans vying in a June 9 primary for the chance to take him on in the November general election.


Sanders and his campaign argue his longtime commitment to policies that promote economic justice have broader appeal than the more conservative side of the Democratic Party recognizes. They insist voters will find his ideas appealing as they learn more about them and that presenting a stark contrast to Trump’s agenda is the best strategy to win.

Most experts predict Sanders will do well in Maine. He led by a wide margin in a recent poll conducted by Colby College in Waterville.

Bloomberg took aim at the district Tuesday with a bus tour by a number of his state and national aides to showcase his record to Mainers.

Diane Grandmaison of Lewiston, who once backed U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the presidential race, is one of those who have switched to Bloomberg as the March 3 primary approaches.

Grandmaison said the important thing is that “we need to worry about saving our democracy” and Bloomberg has the best chance to defeat Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 general election.

She said Democrats have to be realistic in their choice, like they were when they backed Golden in 2018, because winning is key.


“If we don’t beat Trump, we’re just spinning our wheels for nothing,” Grandmaison said.

Augusta Mayor David Rollins said Bloomberg has the composure, experience and toughness to handle the inevitable chaos of a race against Trump.

He said Bloomberg is the one contender on the Democratic side who can unify the country.

Mike Cuzzi, Bloomberg’s senior adviser for Maine, said Sanders has performed well in the state, but said the New York billionaire has assembled “an unprecedented organization” in the state to turn out the vote Tuesday for him.

“We’re here to win,” Cuzzi said.

Elaine Makas, chairwoman of the Androscoggin County Democrats, said she is happy her party has so many “quality candidates, including Mike.”


She said she is frustrated at all the criticism tossed at them because, she said, every claim of misdeeds or mistakes is easily outweighed by the activities in which Trump has engaged for years.

“I’m tired of people dumping on our candidates,” Makas said.

Allen, speaking to Bloomberg backers via Skype, said other Democratic hopefuls, including former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, are “dividing up the middle of the Democratic Party.”

Androscoggin County Democrratic leader Elaine Makas speaks Tuesday with Mike Cuzzi, a senior adviser for Maine for Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign.

He said Bloomberg, who can attract independents and disaffected Republicans, is the only one in the field who can help his party win the six or eight swing states and in districts such as the one Golden represents.

Katie Appel Duda, a senior adviser to Bloomberg who has known him for two decades, said he is a leader who has empowered women throughout his career. She said she has known him since she was 21 and seen the way he has always surrounded himself with “incredible, inspiring women.”

“Our guy could not be more different than Donald Trump,” Duda said.

Glenn Hooks, who advises Bloomberg on the climate, including concerns about climate change, said Bloomberg’s approach to environmental policies needed to reverse climate change is bold.

“He’s been doing the right thing on climate for a long time,” said Hooks, an Arkansas native.

The Global Strategy Group poll surveyed 600 likely 2020 general election voters in the 42 congressional districts on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline list last weekend. It had a margin of error of +/- 4%.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.