Hillary Clinton enlists Baldacci, Pingree and other Democrats for Maine campaign

Hillary Clinton waves to supporters at a political rally in Scarborough last October. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

Hillary Clinton waves to supporters at a political rally in Scarborough last October. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton named the first 40 members of her Maine Leadership Council on Friday.

The list is a who’s-who of Maine Democrats: Former Gov. John Baldacci, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District, Attorney General Janet Mills, Maine House Speaker Mark Eves and state Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond are the headliners, and it also includes state Rep. John Martin of Eagle Lake and former 1st District congressman Tom Allen.

It’s part of a national effort for Clinton. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that the campaign plans to have these councils in all 50 states and members will be asked to identify volunteers and supporters and serve as surrogates for Clinton in the media.

In a news release, the Clinton campaign said Maine’s council will expand over the campaign’s course, and it will “help build a grassroots-driven volunteer team” aimed at winning the state’s Democratic caucus in March.

Clinton and her fellow presidential candidates have been spending most of their campaign time recently in states with February primaries and caucuses – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

But she swung over to Portland for a rally in September. That followed Maine appearances from Bernie Sanders, her top rival in the Democratic race, and Republican candidates Rand Paul and Chris Christie.

There has been no public Maine polling in the race, but Clinton, a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, is doing well here by early measures. Almost all prominent Democrats nationwide and in Maine who have endorsed a candidate are backing Clinton, and endorsements are seen as a top indicator of early success.

But Sanders, a progressive senator from Vermont, could pose a threat to her in Maine, even though a University of Southern Maine political scientist told the Bangor Daily News last month that Clinton should be favored in Maine and even if she loses, she should get the Democratic nomination. Still, the committee will try to prevent that outcome.

“I’m honored to be on Hillary Clinton’s Maine Leadership council as I believe that as our next President, she’ll be a tireless advocate for Mainers,” Mills said in a statement. “Over the course of her career, Hillary has developed a proven record of results as First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady in the White House, in the Senate, and as our Secretary of State – she’ll be ready on Day 1 to lead our country.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post called Alfond the Maine Senate majority leader. He’s the minority leader.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.