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A Look At Maine's Place In Super Tuesday

Win McNamee
Getty Images via NPR
Presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the Democratic debate in South Carolina.

Democratic voters in Maine and 13 other states will get their chance to weigh in on the presidential nomination contest Tuesday. It's known as Super Tuesday, and while Maine is a relatively small player in determining the outcome, several of the contenders are spending money here.

Maine's presidential primary Tuesday will be its first in nearly 20 years and marks a change from a caucus system widely criticized by both Republicans and Democrats after voters endured long lines to express their preferences four years ago.

Maine lawmakers hoped that by joining Super Tuesday, Maine would draw more attention and visits from presidential contenders.

And it has — sort of.

"Donald Trump has a lot of people who — they've turned the Republican Party into a cult, and he is going to be very difficult to beat," said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a campaign stop in Scarborough in early February.

He's one of a handful of candidates who has come to Maine, which has the second fewest available delegates of all the Super Tuesday states — just 24 — while California, the largest, has 415.

The billionaire was a late entrant in the race and skipped the early primary states indluding New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Super Tuesday marks the first time Bloomberg will appear on any state's primary ballot, and he’s been trying to make up ground by spending big on television ads, like one that says: "Mike Bloomberg for president. Jobs creator. Leader. Problem-solver."

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's campaign has bought a modest amount of TV in Maine, and she's also using digital ads on social media to blunt any potential momentum that Bloomberg might have.

"Big money is powerful, but it doesn't always win. When I ran against an incumbent Republican, Bloomberg raised big money for him, but I beat him anyway. I'm Elizabeth Warren, and I approve this message because I believe our democracy should work for you, not the billionaires," she says.

Warren trailed Bloomberg in Maine, according a recent poll conducted by Colby College that shows her in fifth place among the Democratic hopefuls.

Ahead of her are Bloomberg and former Vice President Joe Biden, in third and fourth place, respectively.

Biden hasn't campaigned here, but the two frontrunners in the Colby poll have.

"Our job is to tell them, 'Sorry, we are coming together and we are going to create a country and an economy that works for all of us, not just you," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during a rally at Port City Music Hall in Portland over the Labor Day Weekend.

Sanders is the front-runner nationwide and in last week’s Colby poll. Like Warren and Bloomberg, Sanders has a robust team of volunteers on the ground in Maine, and he's hoping to repeat his big win here in 2016.

He has also run ads here in the hopes of eclipsing his moderate challenger, Pete Buttigieg, who, along with a get-out-the-vote operation in Maine, is also buying digital and television spots.

"Picture that first day Donald Trump is no longer the president. The sun is going to come up over a country even more divided with crises that still require urgent action," Buttigieg says in the ad.

Buttigieg delivered a similar message when held a rally before a sold-out crowd in Portland last August.

His campaign is hoping that fades by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Klobuchar, who is appearing in Portland on Saturday and buying ads here — and Joe Biden, who isn't — will help him consolidate moderate voters.

Super Tuesday, and Maine, could help him do that.

Updated 3:43 p.m. Feb. 28, 2020