With the spotlight on Nevada, most people have probably forgotten that Maine’s caucuses also begin today.
Most of the state’s caucuses will be held on Saturday, but they continue this week and the results won’t be announced until Feb. 11. Delegates won’t actually be awarded, however, until the state convention in May.
Up until this point, Ron Paul is the only GOP contender to have visited the state this cycle. Paul and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who won the state four years ago, are considered the heavy favorites.
Maine Republicans say it’s a two-man race between Paul and Romney, one Romney is likely to win even though he has not yet personally visited the state in this presidential race.
Charlie Webster, the chair of the Maine Republican Party, said Romney is an established brand in Maine, his good reputation buttressed by his tenure as governor of nearby Massachusetts. He has also fundraised for the state GOP.
“Romney’s been here a lot. He was here during the last election cycle. He’s worked for the congressional candidates…he’s been around,” Webster said. “He actually has been here a lot — not in this cycle — but he’s pretty well known here.”
Romney, Webster said, “laid the foundation” early for a strong Maine showing, estimating that the two-time presidential candidate has visited the state more than 10 times since 2006.
(...) But Paul is attempting to better his third-place showing in Maine from 2008. His strategy is a laser-like focus on the caucus states that award delegates proportionally, allowing him to amass delegates even if he doesn’t finish first in a race.
On Paul’s trip to Maine the last week of January, as the streets of many towns were coated with snow, he steadily packed venues. His schedule focused on locations on or near college campuses, where he is a favorite of younger voters. He had a private meeting with Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a tea-party favorite. and nabbed the endorsement of L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean.
Paul’s efforts shouldn’t be discounted, said Steve Abbott, a former chief of staff of staff to Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who ran for Maine governor in 2010.
“Ron Paul did very well in the last round of caucuses in 2008. It was definitely sort-of what you’re still seeing now: some college students, some disaffected conservatives, some libertarians,” he said. “I’d expect him to do very well, relatively, in these caucuses.”