Raye’s Re-do

Maine’s second district in 2012

Maine Senate President Kevin Raye announced today that he has formed an exploratory committee for a run for Congress.

Raye, a Republican, would reprise his contest against Democratic incumbent Mike Michaud. In 2002, when there was an open seat, Michaud won his first congressional race with 52% of the vote. This was his closest race, as Michaud has received 58% of the vote in 2004, 70.5% in 2006, 67% in 2008, and 55% in 2010.

There’s every indication that this will be quite the race — with lots of money spent, much of it from outside of the district, and lots of local, state, and national media attention. Some Democrats believe that they can take the House of Representatives from the unpopular congressional Republicans and a loss of this seat would complicate the picture. Congressional Republicans are likely pleased with Raye’s announcement and he will be the recipient of their resources.

Raye is clearly the strongest challenger Michaud has faced since 2002. Then and now, it is clear that he is very smart and he is both calm and knowledgable.   

Another strength is also a potential weakness. In 2002, Raye had no track record of his own as an office-holder. His main credential was as a staffer for Senator Olympia Snowe.  Now Raye has a record, both as an office-holder and legislative leader.  Every vote he has taken and every bill he has sheperded or pushed aside is part of his record.

Moreover, Raye’s record will be tied to the Republican political leadership of the state’s government. Raye has been part of a team.  To the extent that team and that record is popular in the second district, Raye will do well. Obviously, the converse is true.

The health care overhaul signed in May 2011 will likely be a key issue, particularly since rates have risen in rural parts of Maine, most certainly including parts of the second district. A story about the signing ceremony, for instance, includes, three pictures (on the right side) of Senator Raye expressing satisfaction and support for Governor LePage and the health care bill.

Michaud has proven to be a popular congressman and is a good fit for the district. Even in a Republican wave election in 2010 that brought Maine a Republican governor and legislature, he comfortably held his seat. He has maintained a moderate position in Congress and in every election, news coverage includes quotes from people who know and like him.

Maine’s electoral college system allows for the possibility of one candidate winning this particular electoral vote.  Maine’s second congressional district is often competitive in the presidential race, with candidates taking their time to visit and their campaigns devoting staff time and other resources. 

The 2012 election will be complex, with the presidential race, a U.S. Senate election, and possibly a marriage ballot question. Maine people have no problem splitting their tickets. Raye’s re-do will make it even more interesting.

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.