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At state convention, Maine Democrats cheer Trump conviction

Former state lawmaker Emily Cain of Orono addresses the 2024 state convention of the Maine Democratic Party on Friday, May 31, 2024, in Bangor.
Kevin Miller
Maine Public
Former state lawmaker Emily Cain of Orono addresses the 2024 state convention of the Maine Democratic Party on Friday, May 31, 2024, in Bangor.

Maine Democratic activists are gathering in Bangor this weekend for the party’s state convention.

More than 1,000 Democrats are attending the state convention to hear from candidates for Congress and from the party’s top elected leaders. It is also a chance for party loyalists to organize as they head into an election where not only the presidency is on the ballot but also every seat in the Maine Legislature.

During Friday night’s opening session, speakers portrayed the party as one of inclusion and "small-D democratic" values. They also portrayed Donald Trump as a threat to the nation if he were reelected president.

In fact, the loudest applause and cheers of the night came when former state lawmaker Emily Cain brought up the guilty verdicts against Trump one day earlier in a New York courtroom.

"And you might not need a pep talk today because Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts last night," Cain said to robust applause and hoots and hollers from the crowd. "On all 34 counts by a jury of his peers. And you are now in a room of Maine Democrats so you may not need a pep talk tonight."

It was one of several references to Trump's conviction in the so-called hush money trial. Republicans in Maine and nationwide, meanwhile, have decried the entire process as politically motivated while Trump has called it rigged as he sows doubts about the integrity of the judicial system.

Friday's opening session of the Democratic convention was largely low key, with most big speakers planned for Saturday. But a small group of pro-Palestinian protesters briefly disrupted the evening, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to U.S. military support for Israel.

The protesters began shouting and tossing leaflets onto the convention floor as Democrats were about to watch a videotaped message from U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, who is running for reelection in Maine's 2nd District. The three-term congressman and Marine Corps veteran, who did not attend on Friday, has criticized President Joe Biden’s threats to withhold military aid to Israel and has said Hamas must release all prisoners before a ceasefire.

The protesters continued to try to shout over the convention center sound system after Senate President Troy Jackson had the video played. They were eventually escorted from the building by security and police. The groups Jewish Voice for Peace, Health Care Workers for Palestine, and Maine Students for Palestine took credit for the disruption.

The convention continues Saturday when attendees will hear from Gov. Janet Mills, legislative leaders and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine's 1st District.

The keynote speaker is U.S. Department of the Interior secretary and former New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, who was one of the first Native American women ever elected to Congress.

Republicans held their state convention a month ago in Augusta.