Senate 2008: Will Maine Be on the Map?
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Dec 07, 2006 at 02:41:21 PM EST
On November 7, New England delivered big for the Democrats, handing them a new Senate seat, five new seats in the House and a Governorship. Democrats also picked up a significant number of state legislative seats in the region, gaining control over both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature and the governorship for the first time in more than 130 years. So will New England perform as well for the Democrats in 2008 as it did in 2006? There's no way to know for sure this far out. But if the Democrats want it to be, they're going to have to recruit the types of candidates who can tap into the shifting sentiments in the region. And according to Nicole Duran of Roll Call (subscription required), they may have just found a Senatorial candidate in the state of Maine, where they have been shut out of elections for the upper chamber of Congress over the past decade.
Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) said Wednesday that he is "seriously considering" running for Senate in 2008, and political watchers in the Pine Tree State say he looks and acts like someone preparing for a Senate bid.
He also has been spending more time outside of his Portland-based 1st district and is "mending fences" with sportsmen's groups, according to Christian Potholm, a political consultant and government professor at Maine's Bowdoin College.
"Tom Allen is already raising money for a Senate run," Potholm said. "He certainly is off and running from all the things people tell me."
Allen presumably would square off with the state's junior Senator, Susan Collins (R), who has said she intends to seek a third term.
Allen is a fairly strong fundraiser, bringing in close to $1 million over the course of the last cycle. But $1 million will not be nearly enough to squash Collins, who in 2002 defeated Chellie Pingree, a state senator who spent close to $4 million during, by 16 points (Collins' campaign also cost around the same amount). That said, Allen comes into the race with $440,000 in the bank (as of September 30) -- about $50,000 more than Collins -- a good sign, for sure.
Of course Allen would still have an uphill climb against Collins, who has a rather sizable approval rating in Maine. What's more, Allen is not a certainty to run (Roll Call's Doran cites state Senate Majority Leader Michael Brennan and state Attorney General Steven Rowe as other possibilities if Allen says no in the end). Nonetheless, the fact that George W. Bush's disapproval rating in Maine stands at 65 percent -- as high or higher than all but 11 other states -- indicates that the state may be susceptible to the type of anti-Republican wave that hit New England last month. And Allen, who received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's Middle Class Report Card to Susan Collin's "C", appears to be, at least on the surface, the type of candidate that the grassroots in Maine and the Netroots around the country can get excited about.Update (Chirs): Allen should run. I can't imagine it will help Collins that she and John Warner are the reasons Trent Lott is back in the Republican leadership. Let's see her sell that one in Maine, right along next to her "moderate" label.