Vote or Quit Bitchin’ 2006
Local election coverage
Voters’ Guide: State Senate District 8
Strimling-Babin redux, with a twist
By Chris Busby
This year’s race for state Senate District 8 may not be eventful, but at least it’s been entertaining.
Incumbent Democrat Ethan Strimling is widely expected to coast into a third two-year term this November, but Republican challenger David Babin, in his second consecutive attempt to unseat Strimling, has gotten his shots in. And this year, Babin’s friend and former campaign manager, Kelsey Perchinski, has joined the fray, running as a Green Independent.
The result for second place in this contest will say more about Portland than the predictable winner will. Will Portland voters upset with Strimling and the Democrats turn in larger numbers toward the Green candidate whose views more closely resemble Strimling’s? Or will they register their angst over high property taxes by giving Babin, the lone pro-TABOR candidate in this race, their vote?
Perchinski, 31, is a first-time candidate who works as the office manager at community radio station WMPG. (Disclosure: This reporter volunteers at the non-profit radio station.) Like Strimling, the 39-year-old executive director of Portland West, a non-profit social service agency, Perchinski favors allowing cities like Portland to levy a local-option sales tax on meals and lodging. She’s pro-choice and supports a state ban on assault weapons – Strimling led an unsuccessful attempt to enact such a ban this past term.
Babin, a 51-year-old program manager with Goodwill Industries, would oppose a local-option sales tax, seek greater restrictions on abortion, and oppose a ban on assault weapons. He supports an expansion of gambling in Maine, as does Perchinski – Strimling’s been a board member of the anti-slots organization Casinos No!. And Babin and Perchinski are fine with the idea of allowing Peaks Island, part of this Senate district, to secede from Portland; Strimling said he’s “inclined against it.”
In addition to the islands, Senate District 8 covers the Portland peninsula and neighborhoods west and south of Brighton Avenue.
Much of the mirth in this race has played out in the pages of The West End News. Strimling’s side cried foul over ads Babin ran in the neighborhood paper urging support for TABOR, but the state ethics commission didn’t see the big deal.
West End News editor and publisher Ed King has dedicated a lot of ink to a remark by Strimling campaign aide Corey Hascall, who accused the paper of “pimping” for Babin’s candidacy and lying about the senator because Babin advertises with theWEN, and Strimling does not. King demanded an apology from Strimling, who distanced himself from Hascall’s remark, calling it “a personal exchange” between his aide and King that the two of them should resolve.
In the latest issue of the WEN, King’s run an article to note that Strimling will not be holding a victory party before the election this year, as he did in 2004, but did take time out from this fall’s campaign to vacation in South America last month. No word yet from the WEN on what he did there.