Republicans, Democrats reinforcing ‘unity’ messages in wake of contentious primaries

The Maine Republican Party will hold a candidate rally Friday in Bangor featuring most, if not all, of the party’s top-of-the-ticket candidates in the November general election.

As reported by the BDN on Wednesday, the party announced Thursday that Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, 2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Poliquin, 1st Congressional District candidate Isaac Misiuk, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau, and other legislative candidates will gather at a public event at 10 a.m. Friday at the Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business at Husson University. The event will be public.

It’s unclear whether former Senate President Kevin Raye, who lost to Poliquin on Tuesday, will attend. In a written message to supporters on Thursday morning, which read like a final farewell on his political career, Raye expressed disappointment that he is leaving the political fray and made no mention of Poliquin. Raye could not be reached Wednesday by the BDN.

“It was the greatest honor of my life to represent the Down East area in the Maine Senate, and I was deeply touched by the especially strong support of my neighbors in Washington and Hancock counties on Tuesday,” wrote Raye. “Likewise, I am forever grateful for the confidence and friendship of my Senate colleagues who afforded me the opportunity to serve as president of the Senate and help put our state on a stronger foundation for the future. And I will always be thankful for the opportunity to work for Maine at the side of [former U.S. Sen.] Olympia Snowe, one of the finest public servants ever to serve the people of Maine.”

Raye said in the immediate future he intends to spend more time with his wife and family and focus on growing his family business, Raye’s Mustard.

Despite a rift between conservatives and moderates in the party that dates back years, a sometimes bruising primary election campaign between Poliquin and former Senate President Kevin Raye, which ended Tuesday in Raye’s defeat, and a legislative session marked at times by discord between LePage and legislative Republicans, the party is trying to advance through the summer months with one voice in favor of fiscal responsibility and smaller government.

Meanwhile, Democrats are also celebrating their unity, including Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, who lost by some 40 percentage points in Tuesday’s primary election for the party’s nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. Jackson, repeating elements of his concession speech Tuesday night, said in a written statement from the Maine Democratic Party on Thursday morning that he has endorsed Cain.

“I wholeheartedly endorse Emily and wish her luck on the rest of the campaign,” said Jackson. “She is a strong advocate for progressive values and an experienced leader who will serve Maine people well. It’s time for our party to unite behind Emily and I will do everything in my power to keep Tea Party Poliquin from taking that seat in November.”

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.