What To Watch For in Maine's Primaries Today
Today primaries for both parties and for a variety of state and local offices promise to be both interesting in and of themselves and could also set some of the narrative for the next few months as we approach the General Election. Here are some things to watch for as these races come to a head.
Turnout: It is expected to be low statewide. Particularly high turnout in certain areas and for certain candidates could tell us something about where the current political energy exists.
The Democratic U.S. Senate Primary: This contest seems to be more a question of tone and tenor than of policy and ideology. Cynthia Dill has sometimes been called the liberal in the race, but Hinck and Dunlap actually have more progressive voting records and they all agree on most tenets of Democratic policy.
Watch the returns closely for signs of out-of-region support for the various candidates. If results coming in from Southern Maine show Dunlap with a strong showing or if towns from Northern Maine start going for Dill or Hinck, that could be a good indication of where the race is going.
The Republican U.S. Senate Primary: The frontrunners in this race seem to be Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, Secretary of State Charlie Summers and former State Senator Rick Bennett, but almost any of the six candidates could have a chance.
The most interesting thing for me in this race, and what I believe will be the deciding factor, is where the Tea Party voters are headed. Towns that went heavily for LePage in 2010 should be a good bellwether for this vote.
The Congressional Primaries: If Kevin Raye or Jon Courtney fail to blow their less well-known and less well-funded opponents out of the water, it will be a sign that there may be some problems with their campaigns and some weaknesses as they head into the General Election against powerful Democratic incumbents.
Democratic Primaries in Biddeford: With several hotly contested Democratic primaries, including sitting Senator Nancy Sullivan challenging current Representative and Mayor Alan Casavant for his House seat, Biddeford is a city to watch. Of particular interest will be the effect of tons of cash dumped into several races by Casino backers.
Republican Primaries in Senate Districts 29 and 33: Conservative activists went online this week to attack Governor LePage for getting involved in these two races in order to back Republican establishment politicians Andre Cushing and David Burns over insurgent, Tea Party opponents. I imagine both Cushing and Burns will win these race, but the results could create some new cracks in the Republican coalition.
Orono House Race: OK, this one is more of personal interest than statewide import. I’ll be in Orono today as my brother runs in the Democratic Primary for District 19.