The candidates are scheduled to debate this week at Bowdoin College; MBPN will broadcast the face-off live on Thursday, October 18, at 8 pm. Two more forums will take place next week. Despite Courtney's baseless prediction that Pingree may bow out of the debates ("I think she might . . . She's taken a lot of this for granted."), Pingree says she'll do no such thing.

THE YOUNG GUN VS THE BLUE DOG

A more interesting race, in terms of competitiveness as well as overall narrative, is in Maine's mostly rural 2nd District, the largest Congressional district east of the Mississippi River. The two men facing off to represent this wide swath of northern, western, and Downeast Maine are the incumbent, Democrat Mike Michaud, and state senate president Kevin Raye, a relatively moderate Republican.

feat_congress_Michael_Micha
Mike Michaud
Michaud, 57, has served in the US House of Representatives since 2002. We are all familiar with his personal narrative: the 29 years at the Great Northern Paper mill in East Millinocket, the seven terms in the Maine House and two more in the state Senate. Michaud, who has never been married and did not attend college, is a legit blue-collar Blue Dog — a card-carrying union man and a standing member of the Blue Dog Coalition in the House of Representatives (who describe themselves as moderate Dems). He's a member of the NRA who supports gay marriage and abortion rights (well, kind of — he's been called "mixed-choice" by NARAL Pro-Choice America, because he's voted in both directions); his pet issues are manufacturing (specifically, improving US trade policy to promote American high-wage manufacturing jobs) and veterans (he sits on the Veterans' Affairs Committee in Washington DC).

In an email interview with the Phoenix, Michaud pointed to his efforts to expand access to capital and credit for small businesses — including his amendment to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which ensures that state financing programs can lend money to small firms. "This federal investment is expected to spur more than $132 million in small business lending in Maine overall," he wrote.

feat_congress_kevinraye
Kevin Raye
His Republican challenger, Kevin Raye, is 51 years old and lives with his wife in Perry; together, they are the fourth-generation owners of Raye's Mustard Mill in Eastport. Raye, too, has served in the state Senate, as both its minority leader and president. Before that, he spent 17 years working for US senator Olympia Snowe, seven as her chief of staff. He was the sponsor of the sweeping LD1 regulatory reform package, which reduced "job-stifling" red tape in many state government agencies. If elected, he would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He supports some reproductive rights, telling the Portland Press Herald, "Early in pregnancy, government has no appropriate role in the decision [to have an abortion]. With respect to later-term pregnancy, I would vote to ban all post-viability abortions except those necessary to save the life of the woman and prevent severe physical harm to her health."

These two men have faced off before, in 2002; in that race for US Congress, Michaud narrowly beat Raye, 116,868 votes (52 percent) to 107,849 (48 percent). Since then, both candidates have won their respective congressional and Statehouse races handily. In 2010, a generally depressing year for Democrats both in Maine and across the country, Michaud defeated opponent Jason Levesque by a wide margin (55-45 percent).

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