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Politics | State | Thursday, June 17th, 2010, 1:08 am

Democrats rally behind Mitchell

D.S. MacLeod | Maine Observer
(From left) Democrats Steve Rowe, Libby Mitchell, Rosa Scarcelli and John Richardson gathered Wednesday in a show of party unity at a spaghetti dinner in South Portland. Mitchell won the June 8 primary with 35 percent of the vote.

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D.S. MacLeod | Maine Observer
Former Democratic candidate for Governor Rosa Scarcelli, right, speaks with Governor John Baldacci at Wednesday's Democratic Unity Dinner.
D.S. MacLeod | Maine Observer
Steve Rowe and his wife Amanda with Libby Mitchell (center) at Wednesday's Democratic Unity Dinner in South Portland.

SOUTH PORTLAND — Maine Senate President Libby Mitchell and three of her former opponents in the Democratic primary for governor gathered Wednesday in a show of party unity at a spaghetti supper attended by Maine Governor John Baldacci and other Maine Democrats.

Rosa Scarcelli, Steven Rowe and John Richardson pledged their support for Mitchell. Rowe and Scarcelli were both beaten in the June 8 primary by Mitchell, who got 35 percent of the vote. Richardson dropped out of the race in April following the admission that three of his campaign staffers had not followed proper Clean Election guidelines when collecting $5 donations.

Mitchell’s other former Democratic challenger, Pat McGowan, did not attend the dinner due to illness, State Sen. Larry Bliss said. McGowan also has pledged his support of Mitchell.

Both Rowe and Mitchell said the Democrats took “the high road” during the heated primary race, making it easy for all of them to unite now.

“We’re in this together,” Mitchell, 69, of Vassalboro, said outside the event hall. “The campaign was so respectful; it’s so easy to transition. We’re very excited to come together as Democrats.”

Rowe said he would support Mitchell in whatever way he could, though he said it was too early in the campaign to know what that entailed.

“We’ll all be working on her campaign this fall. It was easy for us to come together,” he said. “We all spoke about the democratic values” during the primary race.

In contrast to Mitchell, who ran on her 36 years of experience in the Maine Legislature, Scarcelli, 40, ran on an outsider platform as the only candidate who had never served in public office. She said Mitchell hoped to tap into that energy in the general election Nov. 2.

“We brought in a lot of people that have not been engaged in politics before,” Scarcelli said. “Libby has made it clear that she wants to learn from me and she wants to connect to the people I connected to. The Democratic party needs to be the place where we welcome people back home.”

Former President Bill Clinton has also pledged his support, Mitchell said.

“I have spoken with him after the campaign,” said Mitchell. “He did endorse my campaign with a robocall as well as an endorsement letter.”

Baldacci lauded Mitchell’s time as Senate president and said she is adept in reaching consensus across party lines.

“There are a lot of people who say that a Democrat can’t succeed another Democrat,” he said. “I think every time they say something to a Maine person that something can’t be done, they prove that it can be done. That’s the way it is in Maine and that’s the way it’s going to be in this election.”

If elected, Mitchell would be Maine’s first female governor.

D.S. MacLeod is editor of The Haul and a founding editor of the Observer.

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