WASHINGTON — A rematch a decade in the making is on in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
Republican Kevin Raye of Perry made it official Thursday: he is running for Congress against Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District.
In 2002, Michaud first won his seat by defeating Raye with 52 percent of the vote, and Michaud has been re-elected by comfortable margins since then.
Raye, the Maine Senate President, has been weighing a bid against Michaud for months and had formed an exploratory campaign in November.
Raye said in a phone interview Thursday he will run an “issue-oriented campaign with a positive message to the people of Maine.” He said he will stress the way that he and other state lawmakers respectfully work through policy differences versus the bitter rhetoric and partisan gridlock that grips Capitol Hill.
Raye cited bipartisan compromises reached in balancing the state’s budget and reducing state debt as examples, and said that he also will focus on job creation and cutting federal spending if elected to Congress.
Greg Olson, Michaud’s campaign manager, released a statement saying that Michaud “takes all elections seriously and this one will be no different. Mike’s as frustrated with Congress as many Mainers are right now.”
Olson said that Michaud is trying to do something about congressional inaction by backing a bill that strips members of their pay unless they at least pass annual budget and spending bills on time. Michaud will stress issues such as work he has done on behalf of veterans and opposing foreign trade deals that he believes harm Maine workers, Olson said.
Last year, Maine Republicans attempted to make the 2nd Congressional District much more Republican through a proposed redistricting plan after the 2010 Census. Instead, a compromise moved just Democratic-leaning Waterville and Winslow from the 2nd District to the 1st District, and a few communities the other way, resulting in a net gain of about 3,000 or so Republican voters in the 2nd District.
Raye, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is in his fourth term in the Maine Senate and prevented by term limits from another state Senate run. He runs Raye’s Mustard Mill in Eastport with his wife, Karen.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington has rated Michaud’s seat as “likely Democratic.” That category means, the Cook report says, that, “These seats are not considered competitive at this point but have the potential to become engaged.”
The Maine Democratic Party attacked Raye Thursday, noting that Raye has disclosed on state ethics commission disclosure forms that a strategic communication company he formed called Down East Strategies was paid in 2009 and 2010 by the Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents medical equipment manufacturers. AdvaMed, as it is known, was lobbying in Washington at the time against the health care reform bill and a proposed tax on medical equipment.
Maine Democrats said AdvaMed’s members include companies such as Johnson & Johnson, which has had business before the Maine Legislature and lobbied lawmakers on a variety of bills, some of them sponsored by Raye.
“Raye should disclose how much he was paid by AdvaMed and the full scope of his work for the organizations,” said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant in a prepared statement. “Mainers deserve to know more about Kevin Raye’s lobbying career.”
Raye said Thursday that he did not speak to Maine members of Congress on behalf of AdvaMed, which he says means he was not a lobbyist for the association. He says he worked in 2009 on a grassroots campaign in Maine designed to inform local companies affected by the tax.
Raye said he met the requirements of the disclosure form, which requires only the source of income that represents more than $1,000 or 10 percent of a lawmaker’s income, not the actual amount earned.
Jonathan Riskind — 791-6280