Electioneering

For the 2012 elections, the deadline for getting on the primary ballot has passed and the Legislature has finalized changes to Maine’s Clean Election Act. Candidates intending to run independently of a political party still have until the first of June to file petitions with the Secretary of State to get on the ballot in November. A list of all candidates running as members of political parties in 2012 can be found at

http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming.html

Of national interest is the US Senate seat in Maine being vacated by Olympia Snowe. There are ten party candidates (four Democrats and six Republicans) who have submitted petition signatures to the Secretary of State to get on the ballot. The one Democrat and one Republican who win the primaries in June, plus any independent candidates who qualify will be on the ballot for the general election in November.

Of the 186 legislative seats (151 House and 35 Senate), there are at least two (as many as six) party candidates for each of 185 seats. Most of the primary contests are for open seats (32) although there are 13 primary contests challenging an incumbent. Of the total of 45 primary contests, 26 will be decided by registered Democrats and 19 will be decided by registered Republicans on June 12.

Our district is one of four around the state in which a Democratic incumbent has a Democratic challenger. The winner of the primary election will face a Republican opponent in the general election. All three have signed a declaration of intent to run as Clean Election candidates.

Last week, the Legislature passed a bill (LD1774) to change the Maine Clean Election Act. Rather than accept the changes proposed by the Ethics Commission to deal with the Supreme Court decision declaring the trigger mechanism for matching funds to be an unconstitutional burden on the free speech rights of corporations, the Legislature instead removed approximately one million dollars from the clean election fund. All of the Republicans who were present in both the House and Senate voted in favor, all but three of the Democrats voted against. The roll call votes for any bill can be found by entering the Legislative Document (LD) number in the upper right hand corner of the Legislature’s home page (http://www.maine.gov/legis/) and then selecting roll-calls in the left column.

Because the bill was not able to get a two-thirds majority vote which would have allowed it to go into effect immediately upon signing by the Governor, and because there is not time for the ninety day waiting period for a simple majority bill to go into effect, this year’s election will be governed by current law without dispersal of the matching funds.

Without any matching funds for campaigns, and because of the emergence of super-PAC funding mechanisms allowed by the Supreme Court decision, I expect that we will see even greater effects from outside funding on our campaigns this year than we experienced during the last election cycle.

–Ralph Chapman 326-0899 chapmanHD37@gmail.com ralphchapman.org