Pingree Poised to Capture Maine Seat

Posted June 11, 2008 at 5:10pm

Former Common Cause President Chellie Pingree emerged from a crowded field of six Democrats on Tuesday to take Maine’s 1st district primary and is now the favorite to replace Rep. Tom Allen (D) in the next Congress.

Pingree took 44 percent of the vote, while her closest competitor, Iraq War veteran Adam Cote, finished with 29 percent.

She’ll square off against former state Sen. Charlie Summers (R), a one-time state director to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), in November.

“We have a victory to celebrate, a moment to savor, and then an exciting campaign ahead of us,” Pingree said in an e-mail to supporters Wednesday.

She was also quick to pay tribute to the five men she defeated in the primary, praising each one by name in her e-mail — a necessity in such a crowded field.

“I know the sacrifices that running for office entails, and I appreciate the commitment, the energy, and the ideas they brought to the race,” she wrote.

Pingree, a former state Senate Majority Leader who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Susan Collins (R) in 2002, started out as the frontrunner in the race and was never knocked off that perch. She enjoyed wide name recognition from her Senate bid and had a network of national supporters from her four years as head of Common Cause and her endorsement from EMILY’s List, the Democratic fundraising powerhouse.

In a field of better-known candidates, Cote’s second-place finish was something of a surprise. But as a more conservative Democrat who had the support of business groups, his campaign surged in the final few weeks.

Allen is giving up his seat to challenge Collins in November. Summers was the GOP nominee against Allen in 2004, taking 40 percent of the vote in the Democratic-leaning district. The district, which covers the southern third of Maine, gave Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) 55 percent of the vote in the 2004 White House election.