July 22, 2012

ON MAINE POLITICS: Cynthia Dill forgotten in Democrat campaign overview

Morning Sentinel Staff

Cape Elizabeth resident Cynthia Dill is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. Really, she is.

One might not know that if one happened to visit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website and clicked on the "races to watch" section.

Dill is listed as the Democratic candidate in the Maine section, but nowhere is she mentioned in the DSCC's synopsis of the race. Independent candidate Angus King is, however, and the writer makes sure to remind readers that King is a supporter of President Barack Obama.

The overview of the races in other states is much different.

In Indiana, Democratic candidate "Joe Donnelly is exactly the kind of reasonable, honest and job-focused centrist Hoosier voters have always supported."

In Massachusetts, candidate Elizabeth Warren is described as a "longtime consumer advocate and passionate defender of the middle class."

Michigan Democratic candidate Debbie Stabenow "is a fierce advocate for Michigan's economy, fighting to help businesses invest and create jobs in the state."

And on it goes for the other Democratic U.S. Senate candidates.

The DSCC's crickets treatment of Dill is no shock to those closely watching the U.S. Senate race in Maine. The Maine Democratic Party's biggest stars bowed out of the race after King announced his candidacy, perhaps fearing a close contest would split the vote and hand the seat to the Republican nominee.

The prevailing narrative is that the party wants to play nice with King in the hopes that he'll caucus with Democrats if he wins in November.

When Dill won the primary, many believed that she would be lucky to receive any support from national Democrats. Her recent campaign finance filing confirmed the conventional wisdom. The Washington Post blog The Fix cited Dill as one of the "losers" of the second-quarter fundraising cycle.

"Not only is the national Democratic Party basically ignoring its nominee in Maine; so are Democratic donors," The Fix wrote. "Despite winning her primary during the second quarter, Dill pulled in just $66,000. That number makes former governor Angus King smile."

Dill isn't smiling. Last week she seemed to be positioning herself as an outsider candidate, ripping King's high-profile dalliance with D.C. power lobbyists Tony and Heather Podesta.

She told The Portland Press Herald that she had conversations with the DSCC political director but that she hasn't heard about any support.

"I'm not waiting by the phone for Washington," she said. "The message seems to be that they are, for the most part, welcoming one of their own," a reference to King, who she described as a wealthy, country-club insider.

Dill amplified her displeasure last week with a letter to DSCC chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. Dill publicized the letter with a news release titled "Dill calls out snub from Beltway Democrats." In her letter, Dill effectively accused the DSCC for supporting King over her.

"Votes -- not personalities -- will change policies to help American families," she wrote. "With this historic opportunity to turn Maine's red seat blue and ensure a progressive agenda this November, the DSCC must not abandon its principles and supporters. There is simply too much at stake for the people of my great state, and this great country."

Maine Democratic Party spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said the DSCC has limited resources to support candidates and that little-known candidates such as Dill need to prove that they can be competitive before receiving financial support.

A recent poll commissioned by The Portland Press Herald showed Dill trailing far behind Republican candidate Charlie Summers and independent King. Only 7 percent of respondents said they would vote for her.

King spending on salaries

One of the striking details in the latest round of U.S. Senate campaign finance reports was the size of King's payroll.

(Continued on page 2)

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