PORTLAND — Former Gov. John Baldacci and U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, all Democrats, have become the first of what is expected to be a flood of candidates rushing to get into the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Another potential candidate is former Gov. Angus King, who said he’s weighing a run and would enter as an independent. King was an independent when he served as governor from 1995-2003.
Representatives for Michaud and Baldacci took out nominating petitions for the Democratic primary at the Maine Secretary of State’s office today, said Megan Sanborn, a spokeswoman for the office.
Pingree had the papers sent to her congressional re-election campaign electronically, said Kate Simmons, a spokeswoman for the campaign.
Pingree said in an interview Wednesday that she is “definitely leaning toward” running for the Senate and will make up her mind over the weekend. She said a key factor in her decision will be the significant role Snowe’s seat will play in the national battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of the Senate.
Pingree has represented Maine’s 1st District in the southern half of the state since 2009.
Pingree’s husband, S. Donald Sussman, is a financier and philanthropist and frequent Democratic donor who recently purchased a 5 percent equity stake in MaineToday Media through Maine Values LLC. MaineToday Media owns and operates The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine.
Michaud represents Maine’s 2nd District, which encompasses most of the central and northern part of the state. He was first elected in 2002 and is now in his fifth term in Congress.
Baldacci was Maine’s governor from 2003-2011.
Candidates have until March 15 to gather 2,000 signatures for a spot on the June 12 primary. Unenrolled candidates, also called independents, have until the primary date, but they will need 4,000 signatures to get a spot on the ballot.
Maine has four official parties – Republican, Democrat, Green and Americans Elect.
Prior to Snowe’s surprising announcement late Tuesday afternoon that she won’t run for re-election, Democrats had four announced candidates: State Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth; state Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland; Matthew Dunlap of Old Town, a former secretary of state; and Benjamin Pollard of Portland, a home builder.
But this morning, Dill — who had announced she was running for the Senate against Snowe — instead took out papers for the 1st Congressional District, the seat currently held by Pingree. Hinck also switched his attention from the Senate race to the congressional seat after Snowe’s announcement.
Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Fall, who had been challenging Snowe in a primary for the Republican Senate nomination, remains the only Republican who is formally a candidate for the Senate.
Andrew Ian Dodge, another candidate, recently left the Repulican party to run for Snowe’s seat as an independent.
Dodge, a Tea Party-affiliated candidate, said based on the Maine GOP’s highly criticized handling of its presidential straw poll this month, he didn’t think he’d get a fair shake in the GOP primary.
Snowe’s retirement has also set off a scramble that reaches beyond her Senate seat.
This morning, state Sen. Majority Leader Jon Courtney, R-York County, took out papers for the 1st district House race, while the assistant majority leader, Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, took out nominating papers for the 2nd District House seat, which Michaud currently occupies.
State House Minority Leaders Emily Cain, D-Orono, took out nominating papers for the 2nd District House race, as did Bruce Bryant, a former state senator.
Others who took out papers for the first district race on the Democratic side were David Costa, a concierge at the Portland Harbor Hotel; Wellington Lyons, a lawyer; and David Lamoine, a former state treasurer who is now an executive at TD Bank.
In addition to Courtney, the only other Republican to take out papers for the first district seat was Markham Gartley, a former secretary of state.
Candidates need to take out nominating papers from the Maine Secretary of State’s office to run for any seat. To get on a primary ballot for the U.S. Senate, 2,000 signatures are required; for the U.S. House, it’s 1,000 signatures.
The deadline for either position is March 15.