BREAKING NEWS . . . And this just in from over the transom:
Valentino, who has served two terms in the Senate and is now a member of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, has reportedly made her decision for family reasons. After this term, she would have been eligible to serve two more terms under Maine’s term limits law.
On the heels of Sen. David Dutremble’s unexpected resignation from the State Senate a few weeks ago, a departure by Valentino will leave a noticeable void in legislative leadership for the tri-community area.
Dutremble, a fellow Democrat, represented the city of Biddeford. Valentino represents the communities of Saco, Old Orchard Beach as well as Hollis, Limington and parts of Buxton.
The two openings will surely delight Maine Republicans who already hold a majority in the Maine Senate.
During her tenure, Valentino has proven herself to be an independent leader who often questioned her own party. Her colleagues describe her as “passionate, meticulous and hard-working.” There is no doubt that her withdrawal from public service will leave a huge void in experienced political leadership in Saco.
Good News, Experience Matters
There is a silver lining in Valentino’s expected departure from politics. State Rep. Barry Hobbins, also a Democrat, could easily bring his many years of experience and leadership to bear for the district.
First elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1972, Hobbins has decades of experience and a proven track record of success. He is highly regarded on both sides of the political aisle and he has the insight and political connections necessary to deliver exceptional service. A skilled attorney, he has served a total of eight terms in the Maine House of Representatives and five terms in the Maine Senate.
Few people understand and can navigate Augusta’s political landscape better than Hobbins. He has won each of his elections with wide margins of support, and there is a reason for that. Hobbins knows the district and its people. He knows how to get things done.
In what is expected to be a bitterly partisan legislative session next year, Hobbins would be a moderate voice of reason who will work hard to ensure that state government does not roll off the rails because of political stalemates and tension between the two parties.
Hobbins will almost certainly step up and fill the void being left by Valentino. Such a move will be good for Saco, the tri-community area and the state of Maine. Saco Democrats caucus on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Fairfield School, so the hall will be buzzing.
My prediction is the Dems don’t take any chances during the upcoming election cycle. They need a political heavyweight in that spot. Count on Hobbins being Saco’s next state senator.