July 16, 2020

Voters return Allen to Congress by wide margin

Incumbent Democrat Tom Allen easily won his sixth term Tuesday, besting a pair of challengers for the 1st Congressional District seat, according to unofficial results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.

Allen, 61, an attorney and former Portland city councilor and mayor, had about 61.3 percent of the vote with 84 percent of the state’s precincts reporting.

His nearest competitor, Republican Darlene Curley, 51, a nurse, teacher and two-term state legislator from Scarborough, was drawing about 30.2 percent of the vote. Independent Dexter Kamilewicz, 62, a commercial real estate management executive from Harpswell, had about 8.4 percent.

Curley called Allen shortly before 11 p.m. and conceded, Pat Adler of her campaign said. Curley wished Allen well, she said. The candidate did not complain about the lack of funding for her campaign from the Republican National Party, Adler said, acknowledging that funding was needed in other races.

Kamilewicz said he felt “fantastic” with his numbers. “With 5 percent you can start a party in this state,” he said. Kamilewicz hoped to end up with 10 percent or more, he said. The anti-Iraq war candidate and sharp critic of the Bush administration pledged to hold Democrats accountable to progressive values.

Allen said Tuesday night if Democrats gain control of the House of Representatives, as seemed likely, he will be “in a dramatically different position to influence legislation. I hope we can start to drive an agenda for all Americans rather than for a privileged few,” he said.

At the Public Safety Building in Camden Tuesday afternoon, registered Democrat Mark Miller, 51, said he voted for Allen.

“I think he’s been doing a good job,” Miller said.

Even though the Iraq war “is an issue for me,” Miller was not swayed by Kamilewicz’s strident anti-war candidacy. If elected, Kamilewicz pledged to work to withdraw U.S. troops immediately, and to try to initiate impeachment proceedings against President George Bush.

A woman in her 30s who did not want to give her name said she voted for Kamilewicz because he is an independent. The woman is not enrolled in any party, she said.

Anita Brosius-Scott, a registered Democrat, gushed about her support for the incumbent.

“I love him to pieces. Everything that comes out of his mouth, I agree with. He’s in there swinging for us,” she said.

Arthur Kirklian, 59, a registered Republican, voted for Curley. He said he typically votes for his party’s candidates.

Marvin Druker, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston/Auburn College, said Tuesday that Allen’s apparent success in an election in which the Iraq war is a key issue is understandable.

Even though Kamilewicz tried to portray himself as the genuine war opponent, it was a tough sell, Druker said.

“Given the fact that Congressman Allen has been an opponent of the war all along,” Kamilewicz’ stand “was just a difficult position to take,” he said.

Voters had a hard time differentiating between Allen’s opposition to the war and his votes to fund military needs in Iraq, and Kamilewicz’ view that funding the war allowed it to continue, Druker said.

As a moderate Republican, Curley took the right approach in Maine, he said, placing herself in the tradition of Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, but she was hampered by a lack of funds. Both parties tend to dedicate money to races that are considered competitive, and Allen was seen as a safe bet to return, Druker said.

If Allen seeks to run against Collins for the U.S. Senate in two years, as he has hinted, “He would be a formidable opponent for her,” Druker said, although much depends on the status of Iraq and the economy. Druker predicted the Democratic National Committee would assist Allen with money should he oppose Collins.

In 2004, Allen won with 62 percent of the vote over Republican Charlie Summers, who landed 39 percent. In 2002, Allen won 63 percent of the vote; in 2000 he landed 59 percent; in 1998 he won 60 percent of the vote; and in 1996 he beat incumbent Republican James Longley with 55 percent to Longley’s 45 percent.

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