Roundup: The King’s Olympics, Cain’s cash and adjunct professors’ union

Workers put finishing touches on Olympic rings in Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, as preparations continue prior to 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Reuters photo by Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports.

Workers put finishing touches on Olympic rings at the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, as preparations continue prior to 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Reuters photo by Kevin Liles – USA TODAY Sports.

Not many Mainers could afford to go to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi this February. I know I couldn’t.

But two people who could probably afford it, Maine’s U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, have widely different takes on whether they’d considering going at all.

The Sochi Olympics have been eyed with skepticism and concern for several reasons: First came concerns over Russia’s draconian anti-homosexuality laws. There were, and still are, talks of boycotts from LGBT athletes and supporters. More recently, concerns about security have taken center stage, as militants trying to carve out an Islamist state in the region have threatened to attack the Games.

Both King and Collins sit on the Senate’s select committee on Intelligence, giving them more information on threats to U.S. interests and national security than pretty much any elected official other than the president.

King, an independent, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that knowing what he knows, he “would not go” to Sochi, and would not want his family to go either.

“It’s just such a rich target,” King said. “It would be a stretch, I think, to say I’d send my family.”

Collins, on the other hand, told a group in Yarmouth yesterday that she would go. According to MPBN, who reported the comments, Collins said doing otherwise would send the wrong message to violent extremists. She also said the Russians, who are historically loathe to accept Western military or intelligence-gathering assistance, are opening up ahead of the Feb. 7 opening ceremonies.

“At first they were very resistant, but now I think they realize that they need as much intelligence, and as much help, in this counter-terrorism effort as possible,” Collins said.

Emily Cain doubles fundraising total in Q4

Maine Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, has released her fourth-quarter fundraising numbers for her campaign to win the Democrats’ nomination to Maine’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District.

Cain, who will fight a primary battle against fellow Maine Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash, released her figures to reporters Wednesday, nine days before the Federal Election Commission filing deadline.

From Oct. 1 through the end of the year, Cain raised $157,900, according to the press release. She raised more $140,000 in the previous quarter, the first of her campaign, bringing total donations to just over $300,000. The campaign says its report will show that more than half its donations have come from Maine.

Information on campaign spending was not sent with the release, and likely won’t be available until the disclosure is filed with the FEC at the end of the month. But Cain has built up her campaign staff and has been travelling the state campaigning, neither of which are free. Cain’s campaign has $169,250 cash-on-hand, according to the release.

Jackson has not yet filed — like I said, deadline isn’t until next week — so we can’t compare how well Cain is doing compared to her competitors. At the and of September, Cain’s fundraising effort raised nearly twice as much as Jackson. However, both have received endorsements from major state and national groups, and the primary contest will likely be closer than the earlier fundraising totals suggest.

The top contenders for the Republican Party’s nomination are former state treasurer Bruce Poliquin of Oakland and former Maine Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry. At the end of the last reporting period, Poliquin had raised more than $220,000 to Raye’s $85,000. It’s worth noting, though, that Raye pulled that total in just 17 days.

Adjunct faculty at community colleges get union contract

Maine State Employees’ Association, one of the state’s preeminent public sector unions, grew its ranks by more than 1,000 bodies last week  when adjunct faculty throughout the Maine Community College System ratified their first-ever union contract.

The contract guarantees an 8 percent raise for the employees over eight years, as well as job security provisions and other protections typical to collective bargaining agreements.

The adjuncts formed their union nearly four years ago, and have been trying to hammer out an agreement with the system ever since. They worked under temporary contracts that entire time.

The first-of-its-kind agreement in Maine is part of a national movement to unionize adjunct faculty, who make up an increasing amount of teaching staff at the nation’s colleges and universities, the union said in a press release.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House.