Maine Democratic Party Chair Drew Gattine released the following statement:
“Two years ago the Maine Democratic Party bestowed on me the great honor and responsibility of serving as its Chair. It was a difficult time for our state and our nation. We were nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. The tumultuous 2020 election and images of the attack against our democratic institutions and our nation’s capital itself were fresh in peoples’ minds. But it was also a hopeful time. We had just elected Joe Biden as President; Democrats had won back the United States Senate and; here in Maine, our state was on the road to recovery under the steady leadership of Governor Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau.
With so much at stake, We tried to keep our goals simple: (1) take steps to make a more inclusive Democratic Party that is truly representative of our great state; (2) elect capable, thoughtful Democratic candidates who are fighting for a better future for all Mainers; and (3) leave our state party in a better position than it was two years ago. Looking back today, I am truly thankful that we have been able to accomplish all three.
“The Maine Democratic Party has begun to take clear and decisive steps to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion – namely through the creation of a permanent DEI Committee. Credit is due to Julian Rogers and the other members of the ad-hoc committee whose tireless efforts and lived experience helped transform a vision for what a DEI Committee could be into reality. While much work remains to operationalize our commitment and center DEI in everything we do, I am proud of our progress to date. From holding Maine’s first-ever hybrid State Party Convention to codifying the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our Charter, ensuring that all Maine Democrats have a voice and an opportunity to be an active participant in the Party is incredibly important for the future of our movement.
“Today, coming off the heels of yet another historic election, it’s increasingly clear that the Democratic vision for Maine continues to resonate strongly with the majority of voters across our state. I can’t tell you how many times we heard the “conventional wisdom” that predicted doom and gloom for the President's party in its first midterm election. We didn’t buy into that for a minute. We recruited the best candidates from communities across the state. We worked hard all spring, summer, and fall - engaging hundreds of volunteers and thousands of voters by focusing on common sense to solutions to issues impacting Maine people - and delivered the result Maine people needed: re-electing Governor Mills, both our congressional leaders, and maintaining strong governing majorities in both chambers in Augusta. Our comprehensive voter protection and education program encouraged voters to take advantage of Maine’s expansive early vote and absentee voting laws. Democratic voters dominated early vote returns and contributed to what will be among the highest rates of voter turnout across all fifty states. By contrast, Mainers by and large rejected candidates who sought to drive down turnout by undermining faith in our elections and who relied on fear and deception to earn votes. The 2022 election will go down in Maine history as one where truth, science, and common sense prevailed.
“And although it’s not as flashy or exciting as election results, I’m also excited about the ways we’ve been able to strengthen our core party infrastructure. Electoral work can be demanding and creating a better workplace for our staff is a top priority. We need to live our values; as part of our unwavering commitment to workers, I was proud to support our staff when they decided to unionize and was ecstatic to be able to come to an agreement in the Maine Democratic Party’s first collective bargaining agreement. We’ve also invested more deeply in year-round organizing efforts. In 2021 we launched the Evergreen Project, a powerful initiative that helped recruit and elect Democratic-aligned candidates at all levels of government. Our Party is growing and modernizing to continue to meet the challenges of the moment.
“I’ve always felt that one of the great joys of being involved in the Democratic Party is the feeling of being part of something bigger than any one individual. Our success, our accomplishments are always a team effort. Virtually no one can win an election on their own. We have great leaders at the county and municipal level who continue to do the hard work every day. I would be terribly remiss in not crediting two people in particular: our Vice Chair, Bev Uhlenhake and MDP Executive Director Gaetan Davis for their outstanding commitment and vision these past two years. They deserve a lot of credit for all of our success.
“And while there is much work left to do, I have ultimately decided that I will not seek another term as party Chair. There are only so many days in the week and hours in the day. As many of you know, the voters of House District 126 have elected me to represent them in the legislature. I owe it to the people of Saco, Scarborough and Westbrook to focus my energy on the important work ahead of us in the 131st legislative session. Whoever takes the reins in 2023 will have the great opportunity to work with an outstanding staff, an energized State Committee, and a dynamic group of county and municipal-level volunteers. I am confident that our party, our state will remain in good hands.”
The Maine Democratic Party will hold leadership elections on January 22, 2023, at 1:00 PM. Any person enrolled as a Democrat in the State of Maine is eligible to run for roles in state party leadership. For more information on eligibility and voting processes visit: www.mainedems.org/2023-leadership-elections.