BANGOR — Emily Cain and Troy Jackson’s speeches at the Democratic Party’s state convention this weekend could hardly come at a more crucial time in their duel for the nomination to the seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
The two promise different approaches when they take the stage at the Cross Insurance Center on Saturday afternoon, less than 12 days before voters will head to the polls in Maine’s 2nd district to choose the party nominees to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a six-term Democrat now running for governor.
Their campaigns are also promising different approaches at the convention, a target-rich environment for last-minute support.
At a Thursday morning campaign stop in Bangor, Jackson, the Maine Senate majority leader and logger from Allagash, said he was still working on his speech.
But he hinted at fireworks.
Jackson, a Democrat with strong union backing, said his convention speech will stress “why I am the way I am” and he said he will “make sure, one way or another, that the Wall Street people know, one way or the other, win or lose, that I was there.”
Jackson has been poking the Democratic establishment of late, including one of the party’s top money men, S. Donald Sussman, the financier husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and the majority owner of the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Portland Press Herald. Sussman has donated to Cain and donated $25,000 to the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental group that endorsed Cain and kicked off a $150,000 mail campaign against Jackson earlier this month.
Cain, an Orono state senator, has been quieter, stressing her willingness to work with Republicans and highlighting her Democrat-friendly record on social issues, including support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights, which Jackson has wavered on, and the environment.
Cain spokesman Dan Cashman said the candidate will point those differences out in greater detail in the speech, keeping an optimistic tone.
“Emily’s been running a very positive campaign and the intent is the continue that at the convention,” he said. “She’s someone who has a positive message and a positive story to tell.”
The race between Cain and Jackson is also the only key, contested primary for the party, which rides into the convention with one chief goal: Replacing Republican Gov. Paul LePage with Michaud, whose Saturday evening speech should be the highlight of the convention.
The Republican hopefuls for the 2nd District seat, Kevin Raye and Bruce Poliquin, spoke at their party’s convention last month.
Michael Cuzzi, a Democratic strategist who writes a political column for the Maine Sunday Telegram, said Jackson’s anti-establishment stance was “odd” coming into the Saturday speeches, “considering the convention represents the establishment of the Democratic party.”
Cuzzi said while Jackson may be more able to fire up a friendly crowd with political “red meat,” Democrats in attendance will also be looking at who has the best chance to win in November.
“Emily has shown herself generally to be more measured than Troy and trying to find solutions as opposed to throwing grenades,” Cuzzi said.