Democratic chair: Maine’s fall races a bellwether

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The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee says defeating Maine’s governor is critical to the party’s efforts to raise the minimum wage and expand residents’ access to health care.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida, told a crowd of about 100 people at the Portland Public Library on Monday that Republican Gov. Paul LePage is “essentially in favor of repealing the 20th century,” a reference to his criticism of Social Security in June. Wasserman Schultz said at the event that Maine’s congressional and gubernatorial races will be “one of the bellwethers” of the Democrats’ success in November’s elections.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud, 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree and 2nd District candidate Emily Cain also attended. Cain is running against Republican and former treasurer Bruce Poliquin, while Pingree is defending her seat against Republican candidate Isaac Misiuk. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows was participating in a 350-mile walk across the state and was not present.

Cain told the crowd she would support a higher minimum wage and target “pay discrimination” based on gender.

Pingree and Wasserman Schultz also criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision that companies can use religious objections to avoid the contraceptives requirement in health care regulations. Pingree called the ruling “unimaginable.”

Maine’s Republican party issued a statement after the event in which Women for LePage Coalition chair state Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, said “Mainers are tired of the lies and hypocrisy” from Democrats. The statement accused Michaud of distorting LePage’s economic record and charged Wasserman Schultz with “hyperpartisanship.”

Re-posted with permission of the Associated Press.