She’s a maniac

417378_312880335428347_172657476117301_793753_1590329846_nEarlier this week, I sensed a disturbance in the force, and sure enough there was significant shift taking place in the city of Biddeford’s political landscape.

On Thursday afternoon, State Senator David Dutremble, a Democrat from Biddeford, announced that he will not seek a third consecutive term in the Maine Legislature.  Within 30 minutes of Dutremble’s announcement, Joanne Twomey, a former state legislator and mayor, announced that she would seek Dutremble’s seat.

Oh, happy day.

And to think I was wondering about the subject of my next blog post.

My phone began ringing off the hook. “What are we going to do?” people asked. “We can’t let this happen.”

Republicans began salivating about the potential of capturing the District 32 seat for the first time in 30 years.

After all, Twomey has lost her last four bids for elected office. She embarrassed herself on the state and national stage by lobbing a jar of Vaseline at Governor Paul LePage during an event in Saco. She was carried out of the room, kicking and screaming.

The woolly mammoth was weakened, and the cavemen fetched their spears.

Over the years, I have watched Twomey closely. She considers me a mortal enemy. She has publicly referred to me as “the Darth Vader of Biddeford.”

Even I toyed with the idea of running for the seat, which brought an almost immediate response from Twomey on Facebook: Look forward to running against a Republican Randy Seaver, nothing would make me happier.

Crazy like a fox

I’m a pretty cynical guy, but even I fell for Joanne Twomey’s self-described narrative of being a champion for the downtrodden.

During her first term as a state representative in 1998, I was working as the editor of the Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier, and I penned a glowing column about Twomey, describing her “a champion of the people, a fearless advocate for those with no voice within the political power structure.”

She liked me then, and she invited me to her home for a second interview in her back yard, serving fresh fruit, sandwiches and cookies. I threw journalistic ethics out the window and devoured those cookies. (They were awesome)

But as the weeks and months wore on, and as I heard other stories about Twomey and her stint as a city councilor in the early 1990s, my perception changed. I learned that she kept a political enemies list. Once I criticized her for something, my name found its way to that list.

In reality, there is only one thing Twomey cares about: her own political ambition. She refuses to be pragmatic in order to achieve goals. Instead, she conducts herself like a petulant child, stubbornly digging in her heels and shrieking that she is “principled above all else.”

While Twomey tells you that she is principled and fighting the good fight on the side of the angels, take a look at her actual track record.

1.) In 2003, she testified against a proposed casino. In her testimony before the Biddeford City Council, she said: “In my Christmas village, there is no casino.” Seven years later, when she was the mayor and facing a budget pinch because of a new school, she  suddenly flipped and quickly became a cheerleader for a another proposed casino in Biddeford.

Principled? Really?

2.) Twomey built her political career on the backs of criticizing the owners of the MERC waste-to-energy facility. In 2009, while seeking a second term as mayor, she held a press conference and was hugging the company’s owners in front of news cameras just two weeks before the election. She said they had come to terms on a solution.

Two weeks later, after securing her re-election bid, she once again reversed her position. Principled? Really?

3.) During Biddeford’s Democratic caucus in 2012, Twomey said the city needed a “real Democrat” in Augusta, failing to mention that she encouraged Democrat State Rep. Paulette Beaudoin to run for her former legislative seat.

But is she a viable candidate?

In the early 1990s, Twomey was removed by police from City Hall, following another hissy fit, when once again her rage trumped manners and decorum.  As a state representative, she cried on the House floor when she did not get her way. She is a professional victim and the consummate hypocrite.

But remember this: she has a political base of support in Biddeford. She was elected to four consecutive terms in the Maine House of Representatives. During her last two terms, she beat her Republican challenger by a 2-1 margin. Okay, so…Biddeford rarely elects Republicans and the other candidate was not much of a candidate to begin with.

She made her political comeback in 2007 by winning the mayor’s seat, but it was hardly a mandate. It was a three-way race that included two city councilors: John McCurry and Ken Farley. A mere 38 percent of the city’s voters cast ballots. Twomey won with 1,742 votes. Farley was close behind with 1,573 votes and McCurry finished with 1,052 votes.

Essentially, McCurry and Farley split the moderate vote and let Twomey slide in to office with fewer than 2,000 votes.

Her biggest political victory came two years later, when she sought a second term as mayor. In a four way race, Twomey walked away with 4,100 votes, easily outpacing second-place candidate David Flood (2,640).

Twomey seemed unstoppable. She was a political force to be reckoned with.

The Fall From Grace

In the summer of 2011, I and some other Biddeford residents decided that our city needed a change, and we rallied around another former legislator, Alan Casavant, when he decided to seek the mayor’s seat.

Casavant had also served many years on the city council and was also elected to four consecutive terms in the Maine House of Representatives. But unlike Twomey, he never cried on the State House floor. He never screamed or shrieked when he did not get his way. He is professional, mild-mannered and responsive. He was just what Biddeford needed to clean up its tarnished image.

A lot of people told us we were nuts. They said Twomey could not be defeated. Ethan Strimling chided me for mounting a campaign against a seemingly invincible candidate. Many people in Biddeford, led by Twomey, were advocating for a casino during tough economic times. They saw no other way forward for the city. Casavant had his doubts.

By any measure, Casavant’s campaign was the proverbial long shot. But guess what happened?

Casavant won that election with more than 63 percent of the vote, beating Twomey, 4,165-2,504 with a turnout of 53 percent of voters. Casavant not only beat her, he surpassed even Twomey’s best election result in 2009.

Twomey was stunned and cried before television news cameras.

In 2012, she tried to claim back her state house seat from incumbent Paulette Beaudoin. She lost that primary challenge.

In 2013, she tried to make a comeback as the city’s mayor. Again, Casavant beat her: 2,377-1043.

And last year, she gave up on the mayor’s seat and instead sought one of two at-large seats on the city council. In that five way race, Twomey came in third (1,080), well behind second-place finisher Laura Seaver (1,790)

What does the future hold?

Over the last 18 years, Twomey holds a 6-4 election record. Not that shabby, really.

By contrast, (during the same time period) Casavant holds a 7-1 record.

It remains to be seen who else will run for Dutremble’s seat. It’s a tough job that demands incredible flexibility and a tremendous amount of time with virtually no way to rival a regular income. Twomey, retired, is in a perfect position for that job.

Speaking just for me, Twomey will be a tough candidate to beat. That said, someone sent me a design of her campaign sign this morning, This sign was allegedly designed by Perry Aberle. As a professional campaign consultant, I can tell you that this one of the most horrid and ineffective campaign signs I have ever seen.

But what do I know? I’m just the Darth Vader of Biddeford.

Come to the dark side.

JT sign

 

 

 

Dog Day Afternoon

State Sen. David Dutremble
State Sen. David Dutremble

Like everyone else in Biddeford, State senator David Dutremble is troubled by the allegations of child sexual abuse that has roiled this city for the past several weeks.

On June 23, Dutremble wrote on Facebook: “The more we dig, the sicker I become with my city!!”

https://www.facebook.com/#!/ddutremble/posts/10153347027281590?pnref=story

I called him out on that post because he is indicting the entire city for allegations that primarily focus on two former police officers.

Perhaps Dutremble is upset with the city council that voted 6-2 not to suspend the police chief and deputy police chief.

Perhaps he envies Mayor Alan Casavant’s strong popular support.

Perhaps he is angry with the police chief or the deputy police chief, even though Maine’s Attorney General says they have taken all the right steps during the ongoing investigation.

But one thing is for sure: Dutremble won’t attack the reputation of his employer, the city’s fire department.

His disgust is selective, despite a recent post on the Portland Press Herald’s Facebook page in which a Biddeford man alleged that a “senior fire department official” attempted to molest him when he was a teenager.

Joey GWhere was the outrage? Where was the investigation, the calls for senior members of the fire department to step aside during an investigation? There was none of that. Dutremble was silent.

But he has been very vocal, and has repeatedly expressed his indignation with the Biddeford City Council for doing “nothing” to help the cause of “justice” for the community.

From the council chamber’s podium, Dutremble has expressed outrage and contempt toward the council. And he promised, he would get something done in Augusta.

A career firefighter, Dutremble is by all accounts a good city employee, But a careful look at the legislative session that will soon end calls into serious question his abilities as a legislator.

Who let the dogs out?

Earlier this year, Dutremble introduced a bill (L.D. 107) to name the Labrador retriever as the official state dog. State Rep. William Tuell of East Machias described L.D. 107 as “a waste of time.”

An Arundel dog breeder agreed with Tuell, telling the Portland Press Herald that, “It is stupid. There are so many other issues.”

The Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government quickly killed the bill by a vote of 9-3.

Although Dutremble was not able to pass the dog bill, a new group of his supporters expected him to deliver the goods on a topic about which he has been extremely vocal: the alleged sexual abuse of minors by former members of the Biddeford Police Department.

Now bear in mind, there is no love lost between the city’s police and fire departments.

For the past several months, alleged victim Matt Lauzon has spearheaded the issue of child sexual abuse by two former police officers, and he has been effusive in his praise of Dutremble, at every social media opportunity calling him “courageous” and a “hero.”

It appeared as though Lauzon had found his ideal champion, and that Dutremble had found his ideal cause. Lots of TV cameras, and how can you go wrong trying to help victims of sexual abuse?

The controversy held great promise to cement Dutremble’s reputation as a take-charge legislator who gets things done.

The senator comes out swinging

Dutremble seemed to get off to a very fast start. On May 7, Bangor Daily News reporter Beth Brogan wrote that Dutremble’s legislative staff was “already investigating the existing law and possible changes.”

Lauzon kept the community updated on Dutremble’s progress via Facebook, making it clear that thanks to the senator, Lauzon was meeting in Augusta with the leadership of the Legislature, and that legislative action would be forthcoming very soon.

Each of Lauzon’s admiring Facebook posts about Dutremble seemed to bring an immediate Facebook “Like” from the take-charge and image conscious senator.

There was even a very high profile meeting with Governor LePage on May 12, once again covered by all the TV stations and the state’s biggest newspapers. Pretty heady stuff. Dutremble’s momentum seemed unstoppable.

On May 19, Dutremble confidently strode into a Biddeford City Council meeting, and he was visibly seething. He wasted no time reprimanding the mayor and council for their pitifully poor job performance. It was very theatrical and dramatic. At the same time, he portrayed himself as a bold, decisive leader.

“In regard to state level assistance, I am working, and looking into the best avenue for an independent investigation of the Biddeford Police Department,” he told the council.

While grabbing headlines and severely scolding city officials, Dutremble’s star seemed to be shining very brightly. In fact, one of Lauzon’s staunchest supporters enthusiastically told a city official — in no uncertain terms — that the senator was working hard on a joint resolution from both the Maine Senate and the Maine House of Representatives.

This resolution would enjoy near unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature, the resident bragged. It would call on Attorney General Janet Mills to step away from the investigation of the Biddeford Police Department, and to let the Maine State Police take over the investigation.

With Dutremble having taken charge, the AG’s office would be kicked off the case. Wow, that’s pretty impressive legislative clout.

Bad news for Dutremble

In most cases when nothing happens, that’s not news. But this particular “nothing” will indeed be news in Biddeford.

As of Monday, Dutremble had filed neither a bill nor a resolution. In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, Dutremble stated that he was not working on a bill, but rather a “letter.”

letter

A letter to whom?

Hard to believe. After going out on a limb just about as far as you can go, the Maine Legislature will soon recess for the summer and Senator David Dutremble will tiptoe back into town completely empty-handed.

When I first heard about the potential joint resolution a few weeks ago, a colleague of mine called a media person who is wise to all that goes on in Augusta. The reporter literally burst out laughing and said, “That’ll never happen.”

The same colleague has access to a direct line into the Governor’s office, and into the leadership of the Maine State Senate. Calls were made to see how much progress the senator’s resolution had made, and the response from this staffer was shocking.

“Yeah, we’ve heard rumblings that Dutremble is interested in this issue, but nobody’s seen anything in writing,” the staffer said. “Nothing exists, not even a bill summary or just a title. One thing’s for sure, nobody’s touching that with a 10-foot pole.”

Nothing in writing? How could that be?

Biddeford’s senator had repeatedly chastised the mayor and city council in public for “doing nothing,” but he never filed a bill? Not even a bill summary or even a simple bill title?

What about the resolution — that was never in writing, either?

Now, it is possible that Dutremble has spent weeks working on a letter, but another electronic records search was completed by the Governor’s office and Senate staff just two days ago, and that yielded no results. There’s no record of anything having to do with a joint resolution and Senator David Dutremble.

To the likes of Lauzon and his supporters, it must be incomprehensible that Dutremble utterly failed to produce. But to those who understand the basic rules of politics, Dutremble’s shockingly elementary mistakes explain everything.

A failure to communicate

David Dutremble is a state senator. You’d think he’d be astute enough to know that his party is in a life and death struggle, if not with the Republicans, then certainly with Republican Governor Paul LePage.

The Attorney General, Janet Mills, is a high profile Democrat. She and LePage have been in an ugly war on any number of issues. Their battles litter the landscape to such an extent that it’s no exaggeration to say Mills and LePage may be the two most bitter political enemies in Maine.

The only politician in Maine seemingly unaware of this conflict is David Dutremble.

Dutremble apparently thought it was okay to approach Democratic legislative leaders to help pass a resolution that would hand the Democrats a huge political defeat, and hand the governor a huge political victory.

Think about it. Dutremble’s resolution would have removed Mills from an important investigation (thereby calling into question her competence in all investigations). The Governor could take the credit for showing leadership by having the meeting with Lauzon, and the resolution — approved by most Democrats — would give the governor valuable ammo in his continuing claim that Mills is unfit to be AG.

There is no way that any resolution or bill was ever going to be passed, or even brought to the floor of either chamber. It was never going to see the light of day.

Senator Dutremble’s unsophisticated legislative idea painfully illustrated his lack of understanding of how things work in Augusta.

Playing checkers, not chess

Matt Lauzon’s meeting with LePage took place well before the “news” surfaced that Dutremble would get near unanimous support for his bipartisan resolution.

It remains unclear what role Dutremble played in arranging Lauzon’s meeting with LePage. Maybe it was a large role, maybe it was miniscule, but one thing about the meeting is crystal clear: The governor barred Dutremble from attending.

At the time, Dutremble’s naïve supporters were jubilant that the meeting with the governor had taken place. They thought they were on their way to “justice.” All they had to do was keep following Senator Dutremble.

Nobody seemed worried that LePage had barred Dutremble from the meeting. None of them, including Dutremble, seemed to understand the significance of what had transpired. None of them seemed to understand that the Governor and the legislative leaders were playing chess, while Dutremble and some of Lauzon’s supporters were playing checkers.

None of them apparently even considered the idea that LePage gladly took full advantage of a political freebie, personally gift-wrapped by Dutremble.

The governor was able to embarrass a Democratic senator, take another shot at the AG, express concern about sexual abuse and bask in the resulting media coverage — all in one neat little package.

Oblivious, Dutremble pressed on, “crafting” the near-unanimous resolution that seems not to have been written, the non-resolution he promised a trusting constituent was right around the corner.

Outside, looking in

Thanks to his clumsiness during this legislative session, David Dutremble is now on the outside looking in, and that position is probably permanent.

In Augusta, memories are long.

Dutremble’s repeated calls to get the AG’s office “off the case” in Biddeford was a major political faux pas, and the total cost of that mistake to his full constituency is yet to be calculated.

One certain cost is the people of Biddeford now have less influence because Dutremble now has zero influence. That’s a price we all pay.

But the senator also failed to see that in trying to pass this ill-fated legislation, his reputation is now directly tied to the reputation of the man whose cause he has decided to champion.

Every time Dutremble walks into a room to talk about sexual abuse — whether in Biddeford or in Augusta — he is now equated with Matt Lauzon. They are one and the same.

Unfortunately, while Dutremble was plotting to get unanimous support for his resolution, Lauzon and his supporters were running amok on social media and in public meetings.

Word gets around, even in Augusta

Despite many claims that he’s about to go “professional,” Lauzon keeps acting like a junior high school kid.

At a forum hosted by Dutremble, Lauzon publicly speculated that the Biddeford police chief had had homosexual relations with a current police commissioner, and with a former police officer.

Lauzon also intimated that the chief had participated in group sex. He intimated that a Maine district judge had a homosexual relationship with Biddeford’s mayor. He publicly speculated that Biddeford’s mayor, a former teacher at the city’s high school, had slept with his students.

One of Lauzon’s supporters came to a city council meeting, and in the most foul, graphic and detestable street language, proclaimed from the podium his certainty that Biddeford’s mayor and police chief currently and frequently engage in oral sex.

Similar examples of Lauzon’s “dialogue” are legion, but it sickens the stomach to list each instance. And each instance has been a costly chink in Dutremble’s armor.

No matter how valid the cause, no bill will ever be passed in Augusta with proponents who carry themselves in such a fashion.

Matt Lauzon (far left) taunts and tries to distract Mayor Alan Casavant during a press conference.
Matt Lauzon (far left) taunts and tries to distract Mayor Alan Casavant during a press conference.

After one city council meeting, as the mayor was being interviewed by television reporters, Lauzon ducked and hid behind the cameras, popping out like a jack-in-the-box to make faces at Casavant as he answered questions.

Absolutely no filter or maturity. Absolutely no decorum and common decency, and absolutely no common sense.

Unfortunately, to the detriment of a very serious issue that deserves sober and mature discussion, Lauzon and some of his supporters keep shooting themselves in the foot, over and over again, inflicting more and more damage on Dutremble’s political reputation and, more importantly, the pending investigation by Maine’s attorney general.

Not understanding that word gets around, and that the media and many others are completely appalled by the crass and boorish social media dialogue that Lauzon has been fomenting, the senator finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

He can’t turn back now, and Lauzon’s posse has proven that it cannot change its stripes. They, and their behavior, will determine Dutremble’s political future.

One new law, and it isn’t Dutremble’s

It is clear that on the issue of sexual abuse, Biddeford’s senator accomplished absolutely nothing in this legislative session.

Meanwhile, early in the process, Biddeford’s city council asked Dutremble to file emergency legislation that would ease state restrictions on discussing an ongoing criminal investigation.

He didn’t do it.

The city council also asked him to file emergency legislation that would keep convicted pedophiles from living too close to public parks and playgrounds where young children congregate.

He didn’t do it.

And there’s no record of his introducing a joint resolution that supposedly was going to be almost unanimous.

So, what did he do?

He repeatedly berated Biddeford’s mayor and city council for “doing nothing.” Apparently he didn’t notice that Biddeford passed a new ordinance that bars convicted pedophiles from living within 750 feet of a public park or playground where young children congregate. It’s now the law in Biddeford.

Meanwhile, Dutremble’s wife announced that her husband had allowed her to read all the victim statements he has collected, the same confidential victim statements he has refused to hand over to the Attorney General’s office, thereby raising the legitimate question of whether he is impeding an ongoing criminal investigation.

Apparently, Dutremble believes that Attorney General Mills is either incompetent or not trustworthy.

Senator Dutremble doesn’t get to introduce new bills Augusta until next January, and his joint resolution will again have no chance.

One thing’s for sure, with the Legislature almost recessed and his opportunity to make a difference having completely evaporated, it’ll be interesting to see if he goes to the next city council meeting to condemn and berate the mayor and council for not doing enough in their positions as servants to the citizens of Biddeford.

And remember Dutremble’s own words: he is “sick” with his city, which begs the question why would he want to represent us in Augusta?

Considering the situation, Dutremble should be applauded for his desire to get something done. He wanted to do a good deed, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But criticizing the council for “doing nothing” and coming home from Augusta with nothing makes him a hypocrite.

Even more disturbing is the idea that Dutremble’s fumble likely impeded the process of justice now being reviewed by the attorney general’s office. It is a lose-lose situation.

David Dutremble is an exemplary city employee but, regrettably, he is proving to be a legislator who can’t get anything done.

As citizens who have been paying close attention to this explosive issue, and considering Dutremble’s lofty proclamations, an explanation from the senator is the very least we deserve.

 

Dime Store Mystery

Moments after learning that she had been ousted from the mayor’s seat, Joanne Twomey declared that the citizens of Biddeford “don’t deserve me.”

She was right.

We deserve better.

In my last newspaper column, published in December 2005, I tried to explain what motivated that column for so many years.

“Political bullies are very much like their school-yard counterparts. They’re just not as clever, and they often cloak themselves in robes of self-described nobility and purpose,” I wrote.

Many people have described Maine Governor Paul LePage as a political bully.

Regardless of your feelings about the governor, what happened this week during one of his “town hall” events was an embarrassment to an entire community.

Joanne Twomey (Portland Press Herald photo)
Joanne Twomey (Portland Press Herald photo)

I suppose it would be easy to understand Ms. Twomey’s irrational outburst — which included lobbing a jar of Vaseline at the governor — if this were a one-time event: a tipping point of rage and resentment triggered by emotion.

But that’s not what it was.

Instead it was just one more incident in a long line of emotional outbursts from Ms. Twomey, a woman who  loves creating controversy, grabbing headlines and listening to herself roar with self-righteous indignation.

Twomey has a long history of creating scenes. These outbursts serve no other purpose than to draw attention to Ms. Twomey.

If you listen to her speak, no one cares more than she does for the poor and afflicted, but don’t expect to see her volunteering at a soup kitchen or nursing home. Generally speaking, there are no TV cameras at such places.

Some people have applauded Twomey’s latest tirade. They say the governor got what was coming to him.

But what would they say about her angry outbursts that were directed at other governors, including Democrat John  Baldacci and Independent Angus King?

It’s not about politics; it’s about Joanne Twomey and her rage du jour.

In the early 1990s, Twomey was removed by police from City Hall, following another hissy fit, when once again her rage trumped manners and decorum.

As a state representative, she cried on the House floor when she did not get her way. She is a professional victim and the consummate hypocrite.

And her only real accomplishment is tarnishing the image and reputation of my hometown, which is now undergoing a transformative renaissance.

Since Twomey was ousted from office, the city of Biddeford has closed MERC, a controversial trash incinerator. Since Twomey was ousted from office, the city has attracted millions of dollars in new investment, started a curbside recycling program and has seen dozens of new small businesses open in the downtown area, and worked with the neighboring town of Saco to create the River Walk.

But Twomey’s tirade gets far more media attention. Following Thursday’s incident, social media, radio stations and television crews have repeatedly linked Biddeford to Twomey. “The city twice elected her as mayor,” they say.

They don’t bother to mention that she has lost her last three elections. Finally, the people of Biddeford see through her charade of indignation.

Over the last few years, many of our residents have poured blood, sweat and tears into revitalizing Biddeford.

Twomey’s contribution to that effort? Zip. Zero. Nada.

So once again, my community becomes a laughing-stock, a portrait of dysfunctional government, despite all the progress made over the last few years.

Twomey will tell you that she is principled and fighting the good fight on the side of the angels. But let’s look at her track record.

1.) The woman who once bemoaned the idea of a casino in Biddeford — testifying before the Biddeford City Council in 2003 by saying  — “In my Christmas village, there is no casino,” suddenly flipped when she got herself into a budget pinch, and she quickly became a cheerleader for a proposed casino. Principled? Really?

2.) The woman who built her political career on the backs of criticizing the owners of the MERC facility was giving them hugs in front of news cameras just two weeks before the 2009 mayoral election.

Just a few weeks later, after winning re-election as mayor, Twomey once again reversed her position. Principled? Really?

3.) During Biddeford’s Democratic caucus in 2012, Twomey said the city needed a “real Democrat” in Augusta, failing to mention that she encouraged Democrat State Rep. Paulette Beaudoin to run for her former legislative seat.

For such a principled person who professes to believe in the people, Twomey does not hesitate to play political hardball, but her victim routine is wearing thin.

Last year, Twomey huffed and puffed before the Biddeford City Council, accusing the city’s police department of discarding perfectly good bicycles that could be given to disadvantaged children.

It was later discovered that those bicycles were deemed beyond repair by the non-profit Community Bicycle Center.

Did Twomey apologize. Nope. Apologizing is not in her DNA.

In summary, Joanne Twomey has become everything she once despised: a petty, vindictive politician who keeps an enemies list.

But she was right about one thing: Biddeford does not deserve her.

************

PS: Here’s what syndicated columnist and radio talk show host Howie Carr had to say about Thursday’s incident: (At 12:50, he gives a hat-tip to this blog)

Just around midnight

Within 24 hours the family feud will be over but political tensions in Biddeford will likely remain high long after the ballots from the June 12 Primary Elections are counted.

For the first time in more than 25 years, incumbents in each of the city’s three legislative districts are facing primary challenges.

Joanne Twomey

Now for a few predictions about tomorrow’s outcomes. (these are not necessarily my choices, just my predictions)

District 135 House Seat (Paulette Beaudoin v. Joanne Twomey)

Beaudoin, the incumbent, has never faced a primary challenge, and she has her work cut out for her with a challenge by former Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey. Twomey held the House seat and previously recruited Beaudoin to fill her shoes. Joanne took her loss for a third term as mayor hard, but this campaign has been relatively quiet, despite a last-minute dump of cash from a pro-casino PAC. If signs are any indicator, Beaudoin will do well….but political signs are little more than psychological warfare and Twomey is a savvy campaigner. In this race, I predict a razor-thin victory for Beaudoin. (less than 5%)

District 136 House Seat (Megan Rochelo v. Bobby Mills)

Bobby Mills
Bobby Mills

This is a rematch between incumbent Rochelo and perennial political candidate Bobby Mills, a city councilor who often runs for elected office). Rochelo is hoping for a second term in the district that is bubbling over with Democrats. Mills is hoping to settle a score, but screwed up significantly a couple of weeks ago by posting callous and stupid remarks about his opponent and her husband’s funeral on his campaign’s Facebook page. Mills attempted to edit his stupidity, but it was too late for his revisionist tactics. Several of his supporters backed away; and despite his open and forceful support for a casino in Biddeford, even the boys from Vegas took a few steps back and Mills did not receive any of the support that other local legislative candidates received from a pro-casino PAC. Rochelo by 10 points or better in this race.

District 137 House Seat (Alan Casavant v. Nancy Sullivan)

Nancy Sullivan
Nancy Sullivan

Casavant, serving his first term as the city’s mayor, is being challenged for his House seat by outgoing State Senator Nancy Sullivan. Sullivan really does not want to leave Augusta, and she is running a tight and competitive campaign with plenty of help from the boys in Vegas. Although she approached Casavant late last year, suggesting he should run for her termed-out senate seat, she is now campaigning on the premise that Casavant cannot effectively serve two masters. The problem here, is that she may be right, especially when considering some of the things Casavant repeatedly writes on his Facebook page. This will be a close race. Despite a contentious municipal budget, Casavant is still very popular and downright likable. Sullivan, however is a fierce competitor and better financed. Despite the intent of term limits, I predict Nancy will recapture her old House seat in what will be one of the state’s tightest Primary elections. Sullivan by less than 2 percent.

In other races, expect Linda Valentino to roll past Don Pilon in Senate District 5; Jon Courtney will blow Patrick Calder out of the water for the GOP’s chance to take on Democrat Chellie Pingree in November for Maine’s First District Congressional seat. In a crowded race, Republicans will almost evenly split between Rick Bennett and Bruce Poliquin for the chance to hold Olympia Snowe’s US senate seat for the GOP. (Charlie Summers looks tired, and not enough people know any of the other candidates.) Meanwhile Cynthia Dill will do well with Democrats in southern and coastal Maine, and expect her to dominate college campus towns and maybe Blue Hill; Jon Hinck will do well in Portland’s West End neighborhood, but Matt Dunlap, a more moderate candidate from Old Town, will ultimately win the ticket to a suicide bid against former governor and independent candidate Angus King in November.