Primary season is over, but in some legislative districts the shuffling of candidates is still under way.

In fact, there’s at least one intraparty battle taking place in Senate District 21, where incumbent Sen. Earle McCormick recently withdrew his re-election bid.

Two Republicans are vying to replace McCormick: Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, and Ryan Wheaton, a West Gardiner small-business owner and teacher. The Kennebec County Republican Committee will hold a special caucus July 16 to decide who will be on the ballot in November.

The outcome may seem like a typical contest between two candidates in the same party. However, the race reflects the intraparty struggle within the Maine GOP between the so-called establishment and “liberty” Republicans, which is composed of Ron Paul and traditional tea party supporters. The latter have been ascendant within the party, as evidenced by Paul supporters’ successful efforts to control the Republican State Convention this spring and send their delegates to the national GOP convention in Florida.

Flood is a familiar face in the Legislature, where he has served four terms and is co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He also has earned a reputation as a pragmatic lawmaker who is willing to broker compromises with Democrats.

Wheaton, meanwhile, has been drafted by Ron Paul supporters in the Kennebec County area. He recently described himself as a “more conservative option” to Flood in a story in the Kennebec Journal.

There have been rumblings that establishment Republicans have asked Wheaton to drop out, perhaps fearing that a far-right conservative will be vulnerable in a Senate district where Democratic candidates have been competitive. (A Democrat hasn’t won the seat since 2004, however.)

It doesn’t appear that will happen, which means the county caucus at the Manchester fire station could be a lively event.

The outcome could determine how much money the Maine Democratic Party and Democratic political action committees will direct to support their nominee, David Bustin. If Wheaton wins, Democrats may end up spending more to win the seat.

The replacements

The Falmouth Republican Committee has picked a new candidate to run for the District 112 seat in the House of Representatives.

The local GOP this week selected John Logan Jones, 26, a 2004 Falmouth High School graduate who later enlisted in the Air Force as a linguist. Jones was discharged honorably from the Air Force in 2009, according to a news release.

Jones, a Paul supporter, also was elected at the Maine Republican Party state convention as one of the party’s 24 delegates to the national convention in Tampa, Fla. in August.

Jones, who is expected to replace GOP placeholder Patricia Kirby, will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Mary Nelson.

David Savage, who won the 2006 election, was the last to Republican to hold the District 112 seat.

Farther up Interstate 295, Brunswick Democrat Matthea Daughtry confirmed that she plans to seek the Democratic nomination in District 66.

Daughtry’s announcement followed the withdrawal of Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, of Brunswick.

Andy Cashman, chairman of the Brunswick Town Democratic Committee, said the town committee will meet at 3 p.m. July 14 at Curtis Memorial Library to choose a replacement.

So far, Daughtry, the progressive activist who worked for the group Maine’s Majority, is the only Democrat to announce interest in the seat.

Fred Horch, the Green Independent candidate who lost to Cornell du Houx by 192 votes in 2010, recently confirmed that he’s seeking his party’s nomination to run again in 2012. Republican John Bouchard also is running.

Elsewhere, Democratic Rep. Herbert Clark announced last week that he’s running in Senate District 27, which comprises parts of Penobscot, Somerset and Piscataquis counties.

Clark will take on Republican incumbent Sen. Doug Thomas.

Another Democrat, Brian Jones, announced that he’s substituting for the placeholder in House District 45. Jones will compete against incumbent Rep. Ryan Harmon.

Pingree, Pollan unite on food bill

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s push to bolster local farms is getting support from one the country’s leading activists against agribusiness.

University of California-Berkeley professor Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and other titles, recently tweeted that Pingree “was someone to watch” as Congress begins debating a new farm bill.

Pollan and other activists in the so-called new-food movement have lobbied against the farm bill, which, they argue, would continue to provide massive federal subsidies to corn and soybean growers while doing little to support local farms.

Pingree has criticized the farm bill for the same reasons. She recently introduced a proposal called the “Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act,” which she says would support local farms by allowing low-income people to use food stamps at farmers’ markets, establish a new crop insurance program for organic farmers and allow schools to use federal funding to purchase local food.

Pollan supports the measure.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Kennebec Journal.

Steve Mistler — 791-6345

[email protected]

Twitter: stevemistler


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