Wednesday, 27 August 2014

US Mid-Term Elections, Part I: The Politics of August

August in Maine is always a busy time. It's the last month of summer vacation. It's the start of the harvest season. And every even-numbered year, it's campaign season. Congress is in recess. General elections will happen in November. In Maine, as in other parts of the U.S., August is prime time for raising money and looking for votes. The money is very important. Political campaigns cost a lot.
This August, the writer Stephen King  is out helping Mike Michaud raise money. Mr. Michaud is the Democrat candidate for governor.  King doesn't often speak at political events, but he is fiercely opposed to the policies of the present Republican governor, Paul LePage. After he spoke at an event in Portland ME, he signed books and let people be photographed with him. Both he and Mr. Michaud listened to ideas and concerns from the people who gave money to go to this event.
Novelist Stephen King talks about
why people should vote for Mike Michaud
to be governor of the State of Maine
Like most states, Maine has two major political parties: Democrat and Republican. The Green Party is also officially recognized in Maine. It is not unusual for Maine voters to elect an independent. An independent is someone who is not enrolled in one of the political parties. One of Maine's U.S. Senators is an independent: Senator Angus King (no relation to the writer).
This is an "off-year" or "mid-term" election. The US president is in the middle of his term ("mid-term"), so there is no presidential campaign (a year when the presidency is "off" the ballot). In some states, like Maine, the state governor is chosen in the off-year.
In general terms, Maine's governor holds his office for four years and can be re-elected one time for another four-year term.  In all U.S. states, the representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives must be chosen every two years. U.S. Senators hold office for six years, but only 1/3 of the Senate stands for election in any election year.
         You might think the political parties decide who will represent them in the elections. You'd only be partly right.

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