The Maine Democratic Party plans to hold its local caucuses across the state on Sunday, March 2, rallying and launching local efforts to elect the party’s candidates in November.
Democratic caucuses are held in towns and cities every two years to elect state convention delegates, municipal committee officers and county committee members.
Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, said the caucuses also serve to gather local help and give people an opportunity to meet the candidates, who usually collect nominating petition signatures to get on the ballot.
He said party staff have begun implementing plans for the upcoming election, and caucuses allow the party to rally people to volunteer to help in the effort.
“It’s a great way to get our activist to really start focusing on the fall election,” Grant said.
The main focus of the party and its resources will be the gubernatorial race, he said, which is expected to be a three-way contest among Republican Gov. Paul LePage, independent Eliot Cutler and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District.
“The imperative of getting rid of Paul LePage is high,” Grant said.
The locations and times of all caucuses are listed on the Maine Democratic Party’s website. Kennebec County Republicans held their county convention earlier this month.
The chairwoman of the Kennebec County Democratic Committee, Rita Moran, said the caucuses are the foundation of the campaign to get Democratic candidates elected.
Besides electing delegates to the state convention, each municipality in the county will elect four to 12 members to the county committee, depending on population, she said.
Moran, who plans to run for re-election as chairwoman, said the caucuses also give people a chance to ask candidates questions in person and meet other like-minded people in their area.
“There is nothing like looking at a candidate in the eyes and asking a question and looking at how they answer,” she said.
Moran said it can be difficult for some people to find time to help, so the party is planning to set up more local phone banks to allow people to volunteer closer to where they work or live.
“I think one of the challenges that anyone faces, and this is not a partisan thing, is to have people understand that the work that they do to elect candidates really matters,” she said.
Moran also encouraged people to bring their checkbooks because candidates probably will be asking for their $5 donations to be eligible for Maine Clean Election Act funds.