PORTLAND — Secretary of State Charlie Summers builds a mean cardboard box fort.

State Sen. Cynthia Dill was tap dancing decades before she joined the political theater.

And former Gov. Angus King? Well, he can open bottles of Coke — and presumably other beverages — with his teeth.

Those are a few more personal tidbits about the people who hope to be Maine’s next U.S. senator. Chris Hall, senior vice president of government relations for the Portland Regional Chamber, asked the candidates at a debate on Tuesday to share something about themselves that the crowd of 400 or so people wouldn’t already know.

Here are their responses:

Dill, the Democratic nominee: “I am the second-youngest in a family of nine. I took ballet, tap and jazz as a little girl. And I was in a fife and drum corps.”


King, an independent: “I was the first male chair of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Christmas Fair, ever. We set a record for revenues because I made the knitting ladies raise their prices. The other little-known fact, although my kids are well aware of this, is that I can open Coke bottles with my teeth.”

Summers, the Republican nominee: “I am a horse lover. I have two horses that I’ve adopted off of the racetrack as well as a barn cat. I have adopted a number of Gordon setters. I enjoy animals. I, also, am a tremendous fort builder with my 3-year-old son, Tom. We have a penchant for taking boxes and making them into forts. And that is probably the most fun thing that I do throughout the course of these months, that’s for sure.”


A new poll conducted for a heavy-hitting Republican political action committee suggests that Maine’s 2nd Congressional District could go to Mitt Romney, allowing him to pick up at least one Electoral College vote.

But with its small sample size and Republican origins, the survey is unlikely to prompt Obama supporters in Maine’s sprawling northern district to pull up their yard signs in despair.

American Crossroads, the super-duper “super PAC” started by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, says Romney had a 49 percent to 44 percent lead over President Obama in its poll conducted the week of Sept. 30. Statewide, Obama was winning 48 percent to 44 percent.


Maine’s more rural and more conservative 2nd District is undeniably friendlier territory for Romney than the 1st District. But the American Crossroads poll is the first publicly released survey to suggest that the Republican is actually winning there. Unlike the winner-takes-all system used in 48 other states, Maine can split its electoral votes by awarding one vote to the winner (or winners) of each congressional district plus two votes to the statewide winner. Such a split has never happened in 40 years, however.


Independent Angus King last week picked up the endorsement of the Maine Education Association, a teachers union that often backs Democratic candidates.

“Maine educators and students need Angus King on their side as we continue to work to make public schools the place where Maine students succeed,” Lois Kilby-Chesley, president of the MEA, said in a statement.

The MEA’s endorsement is another union pickup for King and arguably another slight for the Democrat in the race, state Sen. Cynthia Dill. Dill picked up the endorsement of the state employees union — the 15,000-member Maine State Employees Association Local 189 Service Employees International Union — in August, but she has lost other endorsements to King.

In state Senate races, 26 of the 27 candidates listed on the MEA’s endorsements page on the Web on Tuesday were Democrats.


The one exception was Republican Roger Sherman in the District 34 race. And in that case, the MEA appears to have endorsed both Sherman and his Democratic opponent, Dan Levesque.

The organization has endorsed other Republicans in the past, however.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Dill did not address the MEA endorsement but defended her record on education issues.

“I have been married to a high school math teacher for over 22 years, so I am in touch with the challenges of teachers and this valuable and honorable profession,” Dill said. “My record supporting public education and teachers is stronger than anyone else in this race, and I am the only candidate on the record supporting the repeal of unfair offsets, including the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision that unfairly reduces Social Security benefits that public employees have earned.”


Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe has been named to the advisory board of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, an organization formed in the aftermath of the shooting of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords in Arizona.


Snowe’s addition to the institute’s board — an unpaid position — comes as she winds down her final term in the Senate. A moderate Republican known for her willingness to work across the political aisle, Snowe has said she believes she can do more to change the partisan nature of politics in Washington from outside Congress than from inside.

Snowe has also created her own political action committee, which will support candidates committed to bipartisanship as well as a leadership organization for young women.

Located at the University of Arizona, the National Institute for Civil Discourse lists as its objective channeling “public demand for civil discourse in political campaigns and public policy deliberation.” Other members of the institute’s advisory board include Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and ABC News special correspondent Katie Couric.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be reached at 317-6256 — cell or at: [email protected]

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC


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