Maine's 1st Senate District
Maine's 1st Senate District encompasses the five southernmost towns in the state, including York and Kittery, and like District 32, features a race between an incumbent Senator and an opponent who has held the seat previously.
Every Republican I've asked about the Senate has listed District 1 as a top opportunity to pick up a seat. Dan Billings, a columnist for the Kennebec Journal and lawyer for the Republican Senate campaign, put it this way:
"District 1 is the Republican's best chance for a pickup. Former Senator Mary Black Andrews is challenging first term Senator Peter Bowman. Republicans held the seat for 8 years until Andrews did not seek re-election in 2006 and Bowman picked up the seat. Andrews is a proven vote getter and a hard worker. In 2006, Bowman benefited from his connection to the effort to save the Portsmouth Shipyard. This time, people may be more interested in his work on school consolidation as Chair of the Education Committee — consolidation is very unpopular in the district."
Mary Black Andrews
Republican Mary Black Andrews is a very visible citizen of York, having been active in local politics since her first run for selectman 18 years ago. She served three terms as a state Representative and one as Senator. She chose not to run for re-election in 2006 in order to take time to deal with a loss in her family.
One of her signature issues while in the legislature has been taxation. She sponsored the Tax-Payer's Bill of Rights legislation that was later rejected by voters in a referendum, and she believes the new beverage tax will have a harmful effect on the state and on District 1 in particular, due to the district's proximity to New Hampshire.
She says that repealing the beverage tax is just a first step. "It wouldn't lower taxes [overall], but we would then have 2 years to do something about it, figure out another way."
Andrews has also been highly visible on another referendum issue serving as co-chair for the CasinosNo! campaign.
Andrews is proud of passing a bill while in the House to provide an immediate $50,000 to the family of an officer who dies in the line of duty, a situation she herself experienced when her husband, a state trooper, was killed.
She cites that tragedy as one of her reasons for seeking the Senate seat, explaining "when I lost my husband, the community took very good care of me, this is my chance to give back."
If she regains the seat, Andrews says she plans to "represent the constituents, not the party" and focus on important local issues including local school control, taxes, open spaces and health care.
Andrews won by a wide margin in 2004, carrying every town in the district except Kittery and winning by more than 2-to-1 in York, the district's most populous town. She says she expects the race to be close and has been knocking on doors since June.
Democrat Peter Bowman currently represents the district, having won a relatively solid victory in 2006 over Republican Ken Lemont. He won by a total of 1,605 votes and won a majority in every town in the district.
Bowman served in the navy's submarine fleet, held posts in Washington and as commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, taught at the naval school in Monterey, and worked in the private sector as a Vice President of a manufacturing company. He was appointed to serve on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission by Senator Mitchell.
"I have a history of public, private, and non-profit leadership," Bowman said during our discussion of the race. "It has the potential to be close, but I have the skills and experience to get re-elected."
As Senate chair of the legislature's Education Committee last session, Bowman worked hard on the school consolidation legislation.
"It consumed me," he says of that effort. "I worked 12-hour days up there and then came down here and worked more."
Bowman says the original draft of the bill submitted by the governor was too harsh and he's proud of his work to improve it, removing penalties and adding incentives. While he acknowledges that the issue may have ruffled some feathers in his district, he maintains that his focus was where it should have been, serving the state of Maine.
If reelected, Bowman looks forward to working on issues other than school consolidation, citing the economy, taxes, and health care as his top priorities.
Despite what most observers expect to be a tougher competition this year, Bowman is taking a more relaxed approach to his campaign than he did in 2006.
"I still have a fire in my belly, but the temperature is not quite as fierce as it was before," Bowman said. "I very much want to win this election, but I try to balance my life, realizing there are other things that are important in life. I'm not hitting quite as many doors as last time, but I'm more relaxed on the campaign trail and am listening better."
He also says he's had more volunteer help this year, and the local Democratic Party is more organized than he's ever seen before.
Asked about the tone of the campaign, Bowman said he abhors negative campaigning, and was saddened by a recent press release from his opponent that he categorized as "negative, illogical and disrespectful."
The Senator said he believed that a clean and open campaign would be to his benefit. "I'm a personable guy. If I have a chance to meet somebody, I have an advantage over my opponent."
Bowman is a strong leader and genuinely seems to care about what's best for the state. He's relying on his experience and personality to put him over the top. He will need to start stoking that fire in his belly if he wants to hold on to this seat, however. Andrews is a skilled politician with a laser-like focus on local issues and she seems determined to make it back to Augusta.
The deciding factor in this race may be Andrews' strong base of support in York, which could prove hard for Bowman to overcome.
|Maine Economic Research Institute||90% (2006)||24% (2008)|
|Maine League of Conservation Voters||36% (2006)||100% (2006)|
|Maine AFL-CIO||13% (2006)||100% (2008)|
|Maine People's Alliance||11% (2006)||100% (2008)|