The voting is done tonight, but the politics will continue tomorrow. Here are some Maine political events to watch for in the coming weeks and months.
Several local races will likely be close enough that one candidate will request a recount, a process that can continue for weeks or months. This occurred in House District 107 during the June primary, when the first count resulted in an exact tie between the candidates. Any candidate losing a race by less than 2% can request a recount at no cost. Recounts in races with larger margins require a candidate to pay a deposit.
Senator Olympia Snowe has been mentioned as a possible member of an Obama cabinet (assuming he wins tonight). A Snowe appointment would be understandable from a broad political perspective as a new Democratic administration (knock on wood) attempts to show its bipartisanship, and also a narrow one, as it would open up a Senate seat that could get the Democrats closer to a filibuster-proof 60 seats (assuming they don't reach that number on election night). For her part, Snowe has said she is not interested in serving in any presidential administration (of course, Joe Biden said the same thing).
Judging by the polls, an appointment to Snowe's seat may be Tom Allen's only shot at the Senate this year.
Maine has several statewide constitutional officers appointed by the legislature, and with Steve Rowe's departure due to term limits, the Attorney General position is up for grabs this December. The Democrats will likely maintain control of the legislature and Democratic Representatives John Brautigam, Sean Faircloth and Janet Mills, are all seeking the position and are already lobbying legislative candidates for support.
Leadership positions in the House and Senate will also be decided, and will provide plenty of political chatter.
The Budget Gap
On the policy side of things, Maine is facing the same economic crisis as the rest of the country, and Governor Baldacci has declared the need for deep cuts to state programs. The budget for the next biennium will go to the legislature in January, where the political maneuvering over how much and what to cut will be fierce.
Dirigo Health Funding
It seems likely that the new tax on certain out-of-state beverages and on health care payments, which was meant to fund and expand the Dirigo Health program, will be vetoed by the voters tonight. The Chamber of Commerce has also filed a lawsuit challenging the recently assessed savings offset payment that would otherwise provide most of this funding. At the same time, funds have been transferred from the general fund to pay for current Dirigo expenditures, leaving the whole program on unsure footing. Needless to say, the funding of the initiative and health care in general will be a hot issue next session.
2009 Citizen Initiatives
Groups are currently collecting signatures for a variety of citizen initiatives which could hit the ballot a year from now. A modified version of TABOR, the tax and spending limitation proposal defeated by voters in 2006 is back, and is joined by other conservative initiatives - an excise tax cut and a proposal eliminating health care regulations. A proposal to reverse the school consolidation law may also be up for a vote.
2010 Gubernatorial Race
The race for the Blaine House is wide open, with no clear favorite in either party for 2010. This is going to be an important and heavily contested election with all the levers of state government at stake. Some candidates will likely begin announcing their intentions within the next couple months.