About a month ago, I wrote that state Sen. Emily Cain had thrown the first stone in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District race. She sent out a fundraising letter claiming fellow state Sen. Troy Jackson was anti-equality and bad on the environment. At the time, I said this opened the door for Jackson to strike back.
Well, he just struck.
In a strongly worded fundraising email from the campaign, Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, attacks Cain’s record on wealth inequality and trickle-down economics. Titled “Talking like a Republican,” the campaign quotes extensively from a recent post by Bangor Daily News blogger Mike Tipping, a Democratic, progressive activist (italics and bold from the email):
“She [Emily Cain] has an unfortunate habit sometimes of (for lack of a better description) talking like a Republican, especially on issues of disparity… Last year she even publicly endorsed the Woodbury plan which would eliminate the estate tax on millionaires, cut the income tax rate and increase the (more regressive) sales tax, shifting more tax responsibility on to those who can least afford it.”
Patrick then goes on to say: “Wealthy interests that are fine with giving more to Wall Street….are pouring money into Troy’s opponents’ campaign.” (This could be an allusion to the $15,000 that hedge fund manager Donald Sussman and his family and employees have contributed to Cain’s campaign.)
“If you’ve had enough of… trickledown economics, then join me in supporting Troy Jackson…,” Patrick concludes.
These are damning words in a Democratic primary, for sure, and Cain will need to make sure the charge doesn’t stick. But what is most interesting is that it makes clear how the campaigns have chosen their points of contrast. While Cain is attacking Jackson on social issues, Jackson has chosen to attack Cain on economic issues. You might say that in rough economic times, and in the more socially conservative 2nd Congressional District, the latter will be more effective. But, in a Democratic primary, both are potent.
Plus, with Cain’s advantage in the polls and in fundraising, it is clear that Jackson will need to do a lot more of this than Cain. One of the most important (but underreported) crosstabs in the recent polling Cain released is that among those voters who know both candidates, Cain leads by 34 points. Numbers like those can be fatal to Jackson — if he doesn’t take swift and consistent action to change the dynamic.
As I said last time, I will let the campaigns duke out the accuracy of the attacks (although if there is something that is clearly inaccurate, I would certainly point that out). But, once again, it is good to see Democrats fighting for the soul of the party.
A solid battle over who is more progressive and connected to Democratic values is something we haven’t seen in a federal race in Maine in quite a while.
Posted by Ethan Strimling