Crown Politics

What to watch for in this weekend’s Maine political party conventions

Good morning from Augusta. We’re two days away from the Maine Democratic Party’s state convention in Lewiston and it’s going to take two days to get through all of their candidates in a busy 2018 election cycle.

Democratic candidates for Congress and governor will speak on Friday and Saturday. The convention begins in earnest at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Colisee. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District will speak ahead of 2nd Congressional District candidates Lucas St. ClairJared Golden and Craig Olson and U.S. Senate candidate Zak Ringelstein.

The bulk of the convention will be on Saturday, when Democrats reconvene to discuss their party’s platform — an activity that can often lead to spirited debate or headlines. The party’s seven gubernatorial candidates are scheduled to speak at 2:45 p.m. and the convention will be keynoted later that night by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas.

We’ll be watching the candidate speeches and platform debate for tinges of division. Maine’s Democratic base is highly progressive, as evidenced by the strong support of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential caucuses. The convention is a key organizational step before the 2018 elections that provide Democrats with pick-up opportunities after a tough eight years for them in the era of Gov. Paul LePage.

The Maine Green Independent party will hold its annual political convention Sunday at Viles Arboretum in Augusta, with an anti-war activist headlining its agenda. The Maine Green Independent Party’s Sunday convention at Viles Arboretum in Augusta will be headlined by Bruce Gagnon, an anti-war and anti-nuclear weapon activist who will discuss his recent hunger strike in opposition to a bill that provided Bath Iron Works with $45 million in tax breaks over the next 15 years.

Also on the Greens’ agenda is Rep. Ralph Chapman of Brooksville, who has been the Legislature’s lone Green Independent and the second in Maine history since registering in the party last year. The convention will also see an address via the Internet from 2012 U.S. vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala and feature six candidates for state offices. The convention will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Are you in a party and want to vote in another party’s primary? There isn’t much time. In most Maine cities and towns, you must switch your party affiliation by May 25 to account for a 15-day waiting period under Maine law before you can vote in your new party’s primaries on June 12. Unenrolled voters can join a party and be eligible to vote in a primary anytime, including on Election Day.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “What to watch for in this weekend’s Maine political party conventions,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Michael Shepherd, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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