GARDINER — Democrats caucused Sunday in municipalities across the state, some of them jointly with other communities.

Gardiner and Farmingdale Democrats caucused at Gardiner Area High School, and Waterville and Oakland also caucused together at Waterville Senior High School.

About 45 people gathered for the joint meeting in Gardiner where they voted for local officers, chose delegates to the Kennebec County Committee and delegates and alternates to the state convention, and conducted other business.

Also, candidates and elected officials got a chance to speak to attendees, and circulators asked for signatures on petitions to get candidates on the ballot. Several gubernatorial candidates had surrogates speak to the crowd, seeking support for the various campaigns.

At Cony High School, about 45 Augusta Democrats gathered in the cafeteria in response to calls from caucus chair Donna Doore, who is also seeking re-election to the House in District 83.

The number was far fewer than at the 2016 gathering when the Democratic presidential campaign was particularly heated.


Charlie Urquhart addressed the city Democrats on behalf of Mark Eves, the former Speaker of the Maine House who is now in the hunt for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Urquhart said Eves was the candidate for “working class people” and urged people to vote for him in the June 12 primary.

And Urquhart won applause when he said, “One thing I think everyone can agree on is our priority to get a Democrat in the Blaine House.”

Dale McCormick of Augusta spoke on behalf of another gubernatorial hopeful, Betsy Sweet, telling city Democrats that Sweet “is the only viable Democrat that’s running as a Clean Election candidate” and “the only Democrat who’s had the courage to say no to big money.”

Under the Maine Clean Election Act, candidates “must demonstrate community support through collecting a minimum number of checks or money orders of $5 or more made payable to the Maine Clean Election Fund,” in order to get full public financing of their political campaign. Other candidates have traditional campaign financing.

Adam Cote’s campaign was represented by deputy campaign manager Monica Castellanos, who said Cote, a veteran, comes from a family of welders and teachers, and that he’s been on the hustings since last April and has done about 400 events.


Other legislative hopefuls spoke as well, including John Glowa Sr., who is seeking the Senate District 15 seat being vacated by Roger Katz R-Augusta, who is prevented from running again because of term limits.

At Gardiner High Area High School, convener Rich Rambo, who is also treasurer of the Kennebec County Democratic Committee, noted it was the first time he has convened the two caucuses together.

“It’s truly grassroots,” he said, adding that he finds it “comforting and reassuring to get together with neighbors who share our values.”

Mike Emery, chairman of the Kennebec County Democrats, said he was a Democrat “because we’re a party that generally represents those who are underserved.”

Attendees made quick work of re-electing a slate of officers for the Gardiner City Committee and agreed to hold off on selecting one for Farmingdale because only a handful of Farmingdale residents were present.

Drew Albert, of Gardiner, collected signatures for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Steve DeAngelis. Both men are teachers at Maranacook High School.


“The thought of a teacher running for any political office is a really great thing,” Albert said.

Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, dropped by the Gardiner-Farmingdale caucus to thank supporters for their votes in 2016 and to ask for their support again — as well as a $5 contribution in her name to the Maine Clean Elections Fund.

Her campaign Facebook page notes, “I need 175 constituents from the towns of Chelsea, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Gardiner, West Gardiner, Randolph, Readfield, Pittston, Manchester, Monmouth or Winthrop to make contributions of $5 each by April 20.”

She said Sunday that her husband, Brandon, was speaking on her behalf at Pittston and Hallowell caucuses, and she was heading for Winthrop next.

Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett addressed the attendees about his campaign to fill the House District 83 seat being vacated by Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner.

About 60 people turned out Sunday for the joint Waterville-Oakland democratic caucus at Waterville Senior High School where Rien Finch was elected caucus chairman and announced a “very large” change to the by-laws.


In recognition of the fact that Colby College will be moving about 200 students downtown into a new residential complex this year, Finch said the Waterville Democratic City Committee was creating an elected position for a Colby student to serve on the committee. The student must be eligible to be a registered Democrat in Waterville, Finch said. The opportunity also was presented for a Thomas College student, but Thomas does not have a Waterville Democratic group, so no one from there would be running for a committee position, according to Finch.

The crowd on Sunday elected Colby freshman Alexa Peterkin to the committee.

Waterville resident Claude Francke was elected committee chairman.

State Rep. Colleen Madigan, who represents part of Waterville and Oakland in the House of Representatives, spoke on behalf of Jared Golden, House assistant majority leader, who is running for U.S. Congress, for the seat held by Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

“He’s very effective — he’s a veteran,” Madigan said, adding that Golden knows how to get people who disagree with him to come to his side.

“I think he would do a great job in the U.S. Congress for Second Congressional District,” she said.


Waterville resident Todd Martin said Golden is a great person who he supports but he (Martin) was there to speak on behalf of Lucas St. Clair for the position. St. Clair, he said, is a lifelong Democrat who values the environment and owns a restaurant that employs 40 people. St. Clair promises to tell people the truth, to always get up in the morning to fight for Mainers and to always tell them where he stands on issues, according to Martin.

Carolyn McCrae spoke on behalf of Karen Kusiak, of Fairfield, who is running for Senate District 16. Kusiak has served on the SAD 49 Board of Directors 15 years and represented Fairfield in the 126th Legislature, McCrae said.

“She teaches at Colby in the education department and she has been active in other civic organizations in the greater Waterville area,” she said.

Steve Russell, a town councilor and organic farmer from Winslow, discussed his bid for Senate District 16.

Tom Ferris, a Waterville attorney, and Bruce White, a member of the Waterville Planning Board who works in Winslow public schools in the computer technology department, discussed their bids for the House District 109 seat held by state Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff.

According to a press release from the Maine Democratic Party, “This year, the caucuses will also feature a statewide virtual rally, in which caucus attendees are encouraged to make signs describing what Democratic victory means to them and share on social media through #VictoryStartsHere.


“If we are going to build a thriving, forward-looking economy in Maine that not only supports, but empowers working and middle-class families, then we must stand up and say there is a better way — and it starts with us,” said Maine Democratic Party Chair Phil Bartlett, in that prepared release. “Together, we can fight for affordable health care, strong schools, and economic opportunity for all hardworking Maine families. To do that, though, we need to organize and mobilize local Democrats across our state. That’s why these caucuses are so important. They provide us with a unique opportunity to build our party up from the grassroots — to say we will stand up and be counted. We encourage all Democrats to join us in this effort.”

The Maine Democratic State Convention is set for May 18-20 at The Colisee in Lewiston.

This year’s Maine Republican Party State Convention will be May 4-5 at the Augusta Civic Center. Republican caucuses are typically held between Jan. 1 and March 11, and most this year were set for late February and early March.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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