Mainers Gather at Huge “Save Healthcare Rally” in Portland

Posted on January 15, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Approximately 800-1200 Mainers came together at a rally on the steps of Portland City Hall today, one of dozens of similar events across the country, urging Congress not to scrap the Affordable Care Act. Here is full video of the event:


Maine Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, who has been a strong advocate for healthcare over the years, gave an impassioned speech:


Photos here of the rally.

Prior to the rally, Congresswoman Pingree met with almost a dozen constituents at a round table discussion inside City Hall. She told those gathered that they were among over 1000 families that had written to her recently, urging that she vote to save the Affordable Care Act.

Video here of the round table.

From left to right:

1. Daniel Brouder of Cumberland Foreside
2. Emily Ingwersen of Arundel
3. Lynda Bond
4. Katie MacDonald of Portland
5. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
6. Alyra Donisvitch
7. Briana Volk of Portland
8. Andrew Volk of Portland
9. Ruth Dean of South Portland
10. Mary Henderson of Topsham

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Thousands Gather For POTUS/ Mike Michaud For Governor Portland Rally (Video, Pix)

Posted on October 31, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

DSC_0061President Barack Obama came to the Portland Expo to campaign with Democratic nominee for governor U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud on Oct. 30 to kick-off the Maine Democratic Party’s get out the vote efforts just days before Election Day.

He was joined by Senator George J. Mitchell.

Other speakers included Rep. Chellie Pingree, US Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, Maine Democratic Party chair Ben Grant and Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.

Here are videos of the entire rally in order of speakers.

Link here to photo album.

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Hillary Clinton Comes to Maine, Stumps for Mike Michaud for Governor at Scarborough Rally (Videos)

Posted on October 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |


Rally of over 1400 supporters held 10/24/14 at Scarborough High School. Order of speakers:

1. State Senator Jim Boyle of Gorham

2. US Senate candidate Shenna Bellows

3. ME-02 2CD candidate State Senator Emily Cain

4. Congressman Chellie Pingree, 1CD

5. Former Obama admin/ SBA head Karen Mills of Brunswick

6. Gubernatorial candidate Congressman Mike Michaud

7. Former First Lady/ Secretary of State/ Potential 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Videos And Photos from Clinton-Michaud Rally at Portland Expo

Posted on September 3, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Photo gallery here.

Shenna Bellows At Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

Emily Cain at Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

Rep. Chellie Pingree at Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

Mike Michaud is Introduced at Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

Mike Michaud Speaks at Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

President Bill Clinton Speaks at Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

Conclusion of Clinton-Michaud Portland Rally

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2014 Maine Democratic Party Convention Videos: Day 1, 5/30/14 (Friday)

Posted on June 2, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Day 1: May 30

1. MDP Chair Ben Grant addresses convention

2. Senator Geoff Gratwick (D-Bangor) at 2014 Maine Dem Convention

3. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan Addresses Convention

4. Speaker Of The House/ 2014 Maine Democratic Convention Chair Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) Speech To Delegates
(transcript of speech as prepared previously shared and available via this link)

5. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree Addresses 2014 Maine Dem Convention delegates

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More BREAKING: Feds Warn LePage Admin Stop EBT Photo ID Rollout, Else Risk Lawsuits, Loss of $$$

Posted on April 25, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Whoopsie. Via Rep. Chellie Pingree’s office:

Feds warn state to stop rollout of EBT photo identification until further review
USDA says not doing so brings threats of lawsuits and loss of funding

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree today voiced her agreement with concerns raised in a letter the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sent to the state regarding plans to require ID photos on EBT cards.


    “The USDA’s letter is another message that adding this burden on families and retailers is not the right direction for the state. It doesn’t do anything to prevent fraud, but it does make it harder for people to access the benefits they need to feed their families,” said Pingree. “The USDA clearly said that the state opens itself to a number of risks if it goes forward with this plan, including possible litigation and loss of federal funding. I hope the state takes this as an opportunity to reconsider its plans.”

The letter states that the state has not given USDA enough time to determine whether the state’s implementation plan adequately addresses the agency’s concerns, including whether safeguards are adequate to protect beneficiaries’ rights and how effectively retailers have been notified of changes.

    “Therefore, Maine should delay any implementation until FNS can fully review and approve the State’s plan,” USDA said in its letter. “Given the risk of losing Federal financial participation, as well as the risk for litigation against the State should the State’s implementation of the photo EBT card violate provisions of the Food and Nutrition Act or SNAP regulations, Maine should not rush into implementation.”

Earlier today, Pingree spoke with USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon to voice her concerns about the state’s plans and to ask the agency to give them a thorough review.

Here is the letter:

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Federal Government Shutdown Having Major, Immediate, Widespread Effect On Maine

Posted on October 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

In the days leading up to the federal government shutdown, some of Maine’s Congressional members warned constituents of the approaching crisis, with Rep. Chellie Pingree stating that the September 29 vote by the House GOP linking the budget to removing funding for provisions of the Affordable Care Act was “a reckless and irresponsible move on the part of House Republicans that has taken us one step closer to a government shutdown”.

A sign at the entrance of Blackwoods Campground in Otter Creek informs campers on Tuesday of the campground's closure because of the federal government shutdown. (photo credit to BDN)

A sign at the entrance of Blackwoods Campground in Otter Creek informs campers on Tuesday of the campground’s closure because of the federal government shutdown. (photo credit to BDN)

The Congresswoman also set up a web page (“Government Shutdown FAQ”), describing the potential effect on federal agencies and programs, if such a shutdown were to occur.

The nation watched and waited, as the efforts for a “clean continuing resolution” or a “CR” went back and forth between the two chambers in DC, with House Republicans refusing to allow a clean CR to come up for a vote in their chamber and the Senate Democrats voting down each and every House-passed CR with ACA-defunding provisions attached to it. Inevitably, America went into its first federal shutdown in seventeen years, as of midnight on October 1, with an estimated 800,000 workers nationwide immediately furloughed.

Here in Maine, experts announced that there could be “profound effects on businesses” from a prolonged shutdown for the state.

Maine Democratic leaders, who had faced similar gridlock and a potential shutdown locally earlier this year but managed to come together with enough Republicans to avert that situation by overriding Governor LePage’s budget veto (LD 1509) for our state were quick to respond:

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters after both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Paul LePage's veto of the state budget, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.  (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, right, and House speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, speak to reporters after both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the state budget, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at the State House in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    “As lawmakers it is always our job to make sure government works for the people. We should question the motives behind those who work against us. The fact that one small group from one political party is blackmailing the rest of the country is shameful,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “Because of their actions, here in Maine, some folks will be prevented from moving forward with their home loans, thousands will lose their paycheck, and scores of businesses will be put on hold until this mess is cleaned up. I’m proud that in the Maine Legislature, we don’t behave that way. We show up and do our job—even when we disagree.”

    “The people of Maine and millions of Americans across the country woke up shaking our heads this morning,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves. “We are tired of Tea Party politicians who are more interested in running our government into the ground than making it work. Now, more than ever, we must collaborate to move our state and country forward. Democrats are committed to doing so as we head into the next legislative session.”

House-of-CardsBut when it was Governor LePage’s turn to respond, he minimized the effect of the Tea Party fueled shutdown with the following statement and mention of 280 furloughed federal employees:

“Although some positions and programs in state agencies are federally funded, all functions of state government will proceed as normal through the end of the week,” Governor LePage said. “The shutdown of the federal government is a result of the failure of leadership in Washington, D.C. A short-term shutdown won’t impact the operation of Maine state government. But if the shutdown continues for an extended period, then it could affect some state agencies. With the politicians constantly fighting over the budget, sequestration and the debt ceiling, in addition to $17 trillion in national debt, we cannot rely on the federal government to pay for public assistance programs or state services for Maine people.”

It has now been a week. Let’s examine the numbers of those directly affected here in Maine, shall we?

Front doors at Maine Department of Health and Human Services Disability Determination Office in Winthrop, 10/8/13.  Sign reads: "The Maine DDS is closed due to the government shutdown."

Front doors at Maine Department of Health and Human Services Disability Determination Office in Winthrop, 10/8/13. Sign reads: “The Maine DDS is closed due to the government shutdown.”

  • More than 200 federal employees at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor.
  • 280 immediately furloughed Maine Army National Guardsmen. Scratch that; try 400.
  • 44 more administrative Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management employees in Maine.
  • 56 SSDI health workers, with 52 of them, being the entire staff of the Disability Determination office in Winthrop.
  • “Thousands” of state employees”, possibly by the end of this week.
  • Potentially more than 500 employees of Defense Finance and Accounting Services in Limestone.
  • 1500 workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were furloughed last week, with some now returning to work. As many as 2800 received furlough notices.

More layoffs, as provided by Maine AFL-CIO via press release last week:

  • In Cutler, 12 workers at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station are locked out of their jobs.
  • In Limestone, over 500 workers are still working but may be sent home without pay within days.
  • In Bangor and Portland, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists who inspect the planes we all fly on to ensure safety have been told not to come in, and others that are deemed essential are working without pay.
  • Across the state, OSHA inspectors who keep workplaces safe for all Maine workers are wondering when their next paycheck may be and how they will pay their bills.
  • In Augusta, workers who process veteran benefits at Togus in the VBA will likely be sent home within days.
  • In Kittery, thousands of workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are out of work and more are working but unsure if they will be paid.
  • In Bangor and Portland, Air Traffic Controllers are working without pay.

Today Rep. Pingree’s office announced that nearly 10,000 VA workers have been furloughed nationwide. It remains to be seen what effect this announcement will mean on those workers at Togus or the veterans receiving care. Her statement:

    “The shutdown has already slowed down the claims process and these furloughs can only make things worse. For veterans who have been waiting months or even years for the benefits they deserve, that’s outrageous,” Pingree said. “This is the latest example of the real pain that the shutdown is causing to families all across the country. It’s outrageous that Republican leaders are keeping the government closed because of their obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act, and now veterans are paying the price. The VA has made it clear that if the shutdown goes into late October there could be a delay in disability payments,” Pingree said. “That would be a real hardship for veterans and their families. Not only is this a hardship for veterans, but also for the men and women at the VA who work every day to process claims for our veterans.”

A new study in today’s Bangor Daily News shows that the effects of the shutdown are hitting Maine especially hard, due to our large number of veterans and elderly population:

    The study, put out by the website WalletHub, says Virginia is the state most affected by the shutdown. Makes sense. Washington, D.C., ranks fourth on the list. Makes sense, too. But that’s just one spot ahead of Maine. Maryland — home to numerous federal offices and federal workers — is sixth, one slot behind Maine.

    So why does a shutdown hit Maine harder than it hits Maryland? It’s not because Maine is home to a disproportionately high number of furloughed federal employees — though the state has its share. Rather, it’s the state’s high concentration of seniors and veterans, its businesses’ dependence on loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the role real estate plays in the state economy.

We now enter Week #2 of the shutdown, with no end in sight.

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Breaking: Democrat Eloise Vitelli Wins Maine Senate District 19 Special Election

Posted on August 27, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Eloise Vitelli chosen as Democratic candidate for Dist. 19 special election on Aug. 27. Seen here with David Sinclair (left) and Will Neilson (right). Photo credit to Times Record.

Eloise Vitelli chosen as Democratic candidate for Dist. 19 special election on Aug. 27. Seen here with David Sinclair (left) and Will Neilson (right). Photo credit to Times Record.

10 pm Update: Democrat Eloise Vitelli is projected to be the winner of the SD 19 special election with a 4621 vote total over Paula Benoit’s 4339 and Daniel Stromgren’s 357 tallies.

Senate President Justin Alfond released the following statement:

    “Congratulations to Eloise on her win tonight. As someone who has helped thousands of Mainers get to work and start businesses, Eloise is the right person for the job as Maine’s next State Senator. I know she will stand up for the people of her community, and I look forward to working with her as we help grow our economy and put more Mainers back to work.

    The people of Maine spoke strongly tonight. They want lawmakers who are going to stand up to the LePage approach and instead work collaboratively to get things done to move our state forward.”


7pm Update via BDN: Earlier reports of ballot shortages were erroneous. Extremely high turnout continues to be seen in all districts:

    Topsham Town Clerk Ruth Lyons said at 5:30 p.m. that turnout was “huge.” However, despite reports by other media, Topsham did not run out of ballots, Lyons said.

    At 5:30 p.m., Topsham still had 1,500 to 2,000 blank ballots, as well as another 600 absentee ballots at the town office, “if it came to that,” Lyons said

    Clerks all over the district, which includes all of Sagadahoc County and the Lincoln County town of Dresden, said they had seen high numbers of voters.

    In this special election, clerks and poll workers will count the ballots by hand, which could slow the reporting of results, some election officials said.

5PM Update shows very high turnout and even one municipality running out of ballots:

    Voters are turning out in surprisingly large numbers across Senate District 19 today as residents decide who should fill the year remaining on the term of Sen. Seth Goodall.

    In Topsham, where officials eventually ran out of ballots, Ruth Lyons, the top voting official, said turnout was “heavy” at 11 a.m. In Bowdoin, the town clerk counted 150 ballots this morning and predicted higher turnout than for the June school referendums in that town.

    In Bath, City Clerk Mary Small said turnout had been “brisk.” By 3:30, Small said that 1,500 ballots, including absentee ballots, had been cast.

    In Topsham, meanwhile, voting was halted temporarily because the polling place had run out of ballots.

Goodall-headshot-colorWhen now former Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall announced in June that he was accepting the New England Regional SBA Administrator position, that set up the need for a special election to fill his Senate District 19 (Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Georgetown, Perkins Twp., Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, and Woolwich in Sagadahoc County and Dresden in Lincoln County) seat.

There are three candidates vying for the coveted spot, which Goodall held for three terms: Former State Senator Republican Paula Benoit of Phippsburg (who served previously from 2006-8 and was defeated by Goodall), Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Democrat Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, the Program and Policy Development Maine Centers Director for Women, Work, and Community, and Green Independent Daniel Longley Stromgren of Topsham. All three ran as Maine Clean Election Act candidates.

While Vitelli, who has spent decades working for Maine people and fostering women’s business growth efforts, has won endorsements from Bath Iron Works, International Association of Machinists—Maine Lobstermen, Local 207, Rep. Chellie Pingree and even had Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Congressman Mike Michaud out knocking on doors for her campaign, former Blaine House director, Baxter LePage blogger and First Lady Ann LePage’s assistant Paula Benoit has found herself caught in the latest controversy caused by Governor Paul LePage (PPH, “Republican lawmakers: LePage said Obama ‘hates white people'”):

paula baxter

    Benoit said Thursday that LePage’s alleged comment about President Barack Obama hating white people has been overhyped by the media and is distracting voters from more important issues such as jobs, taxes and economic development.

“[The LePage controversy] isn’t affecting this election from where I stand,” said Benoit. “I’m just meeting people and going door to door and talking about myself. I’m not talking about the governor. All I say is that he sees a light at the end of the tunnel; it’s just that his message gets distorted.”

Several GOP insiders, however, have told the BDN that there is grave concern within the party that the latest LePage controversy will tip the race toward the Democrat Vitelli, so no one will talk about the issue publicly before the election.

Whether or not those in attendance will indeed come forward publicly remains to be seen; for his own part, Governor LePage offered a “non-apology” apology to Republican legislators. Benoit at a debate last week made numerous judgmental and disparaging remarks about her experiences meeting with SD 19 constituents while knocking on doors, echoing LePage’s infamous “get off the couch and get a job” speech at last year’s Maine Republican Party convention.

Polls opened at 8-10 am, depending on town, and all will close tonight at 8 pm.

Eloise Vitelli, Paula Benoit and Daniel Stromgren. Photo via Times Record (Twitter).

Eloise Vitelli, Paula Benoit and Daniel Stromgren. Photo via Times Record (Twitter).

Turnout for the special election is already seemingly very high:

      Voters are turning out in surprisingly large numbers across Senate District 19 today as residents decide who should fill the year remaining on the term of Sen. Seth Goodall.

In Topsham, Ruth Lyons, the top voting official called the turnout “heavy” at 11 a.m. In Bowdoin, the town clerk predicted a higher turnout than for the June school referendums.

Lyons said she would not expect a result before midnight tonight.


Times Record midcoastnews tweets:

SENATE 19: Topsham vote warden Ruth Lyons calls turnout “heavy.” #mepolitics

SENATE 19: Absentee ballots being counted now, throughout the day, clerk says. #MePolitics

SENATE 19: Topsham election warden Ruth Lyons says result unlikely before midnight. #MePolitics

SENATE 19: Turnout ‘heavy’ as cash gushes at finish line … #mepolitics

SENATE 19: @bangordailynews and @MidcoastNews to provide up-to-the- minute returns tonight at their sites. #MePolitics

SENATE 19: No electronic counting in municipalities, big absentee counts to push tally late #MePolitics

House Majority Leader Seth Berry @sethberry (who himself considered running for the seat): Fantastic turnout this AM in Bowdoinham; more than half for Vitelli so far. See you at Sagadahoc/Dresden polls before 8 pm! #mepolitics

Megan Hannan ‏@meganhannan: Heavy voter turnout in Bath today! #mepolitics #SD19


Sagadahoc County

Vitelli 144, Benoit 58, Stromgren 5.

Vitelli 1159, Benoit 1009, Stromgren 68.

Benoit 285, Vitelli 213, Stromgren 19.

Vitelli 408, Benoit 320, Stromgren 29.

Vitelli 226, Benoit 156, Stromgren 14.

Benoit 390, Vitelli 315, Stromgren 11.

Vitelli 307, Benoit 280, Stromgren 54.

Vitelli 990, Benoit 924, Stromgren 99.

West Bath:
Benoit 313, Vitelli 275, Stromgren 22.

Benoit 429, Vitelli 371, Stromgren

Lincoln County

Vitelli 213, Benoit 175, Stromgren 15.

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Pingree testifies at Augusta hearing on food safety rules

Posted on August 20, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

At a Monday public hearing in Augusta attended by over 150 people, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree urged a top Obama Administration official, Michael Taylor, the Deputy Commissioner for Food Safety at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to create food safety rules that don’t place an unnecessary burden on smaller farmers that grow a variety of crops. Pingree spoke of her own experiences, as she has been involved in Maine farming and farm policy for forty years and currently owns a farm on the island of North Haven where she raises a variety of vegetables as well as chicken, turkeys, pigs and goats.

She spoke of the importance of family farms and farmers markets to our communities, of Maine’s aging population as a whole and specifically of our family farmers, and the fact that Maine is 28th in per capita income- yet more and more young people are coming into the family farm industry as their sole income.

A portion of her address:

    “One-size-fits-all regulations will put New England farmers out of business. The size of regulation must match the amount of risk, and the loss of hundreds of farms cannot be an unintended consequence of the food safety rules.”

    “These are not factory farms, or single commodity operations, they are family run, diversified farms. They are diversified because that has traditionally been the most successful way to yield even a modest profit – that is what enables them to stay on the land for another generation.”

    “I remain very concerned about the impact of the rules on small producers and processors. Let me be clear: for operations of that scale, these additional costs will put farms and processors out of business, and it will permanently change the landscape in states like Maine. Unfortunately, the FDA’s definitions of ‘farm’ and ‘facility’ are confusing and do not provide clarity to farmers for determining whether they are subject to one or both rules. Congress did not intend for a single operation to be subject to both regulations, yet this is what FDA appears to codify with the term ‘farm mixed-type facility’.”

    “Part of running a successful agricultural operation is not only growing food but also selling food and preparing it to be sold. I am concerned that many farms will come under the full weight of both rules, including farms that are involved in on-farm processing and aggregation activities.”

More via BDN:

Paul Birdsall of Penobscot’s Horsepower Farm: “These rules are unacceptable. You’re gonna be putting farms out of business.”

Ag Committee’s Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom): “I challenge you to point out one case of locally produced, locally sold, locally consumed produce that’s resulted in a fatality. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning.”

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Emerge Maine Honors 2013 Woman of the Year Janet Mills and Rising Star Heidi Brooks

Posted on June 25, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

June 20th was a special day, as Emerge Maine celebrated their 2013 Woman of the Year, Attorney General Janet Mills of Farmington, and 2013 Rising Star Dr. Heidi Brooks of Lewiston at a fete at Augusta’s Senator Inn.

Janet Mills and Heidi Brooks

Janet Mills and Heidi Brooks

Janet Mills, Maine’s current Attorney General, is nothing short of a living legend in Maine politics. She served 4 terms in the Maine House of Representatives before becoming the state’s first woman Attorney General in 2009 under Governor John Baldacci. She served as the Maine Democratic Party’s vice chair the past few years and resumed her former position as Maine’s Attorney General earlier year. A lifelong resident of her beloved Farmington, Mills is an alumna of UMass Boston and University of Maine School of Law. Janet is married to Stanley Kuklinski, with whom she has five stepdaughters and three grandsons.

This is the inaugural year for the Rising Star award. Its first recipient, Dr. Heidi Brooks of Lewiston, is a 2012 graduate of the Emerge Maine program, who in her capacity as a physician believes that healthcare is a basic human right and has seen firsthand the consequences of not providing healthcare early enough to prevent illness. To that end, Heidi currently volunteers as Co-Chair of Maine People’s Alliance Board and as Secretary of both the Maine Democratic State Committee and the Androscoggin County Democratic Committee. She was recently appointed to the Lewiston Community Development Block Grant Citizens Advisory Committee and elected to the local Head Start Board.

Emerge Maine is part of a national network, Emerge America, that is currently working in eleven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin. Now in its twelfth year, Emerge Maine has graduated 120 Demcoratic women with 9 currently serving in the 126th Legislature, including freshmen lawmakers Katherine Cassidy, Mattie Daughtry, Sara Gideon, Catherine Nadeau and Lisa Villa.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap introduced his friend and the Woman of the Year honoree in a touching and hilarious address:

And then it was Janet’s turn, which was equally entertaining, as well as uplifting for all of those in attendance:

Past recipients of Emerge Maine Woman of the Year award include current Maine House of Representatives Clerk Millie MacFarland (2010), former Senate President/ Speaker of the House/ 2010 Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell (2011) and U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (2012).

(Many thanks to Peter Imber for allowing his photos to be used in this report. ~AP)

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