MAINE 1: Rep. James B. Longley Jr. (R) vs. Tom Allen (D) South Maine -- Portland; AugustaTIME Election Guide: Maine
Republican James B. Longley Jr., a strong freshman supporter of the House GOP's "Contract With America," has been one of organized labor's top targets this year.
And ads in the district sponsored by the AFL-CIO have taken their toll on Longley. He was running so far behind in mid-September that he took to touting an internal poll showing him losing by 7 percentage points to Democrat Tom Allen, a former Portland mayor.
Longley decries the labor ads, which he says have been run more than 200 times in the district at a cost topping $1 million. Longley claims the ads are larded with "lies and distortion."
On the whole, Longley has been a reliable vote for Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. But Longley has cast some votes to distance himself from the GOP leadership in Congress. Blasted by Democrats early in the 104th Congress for supporting legislation to make it difficult for federal agencies to implement regulations, Longley voted against GOP efforts later in 1995 to weaken the enforcement powers of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Recently Longley has run ads portraying himself as in the tradition of his namesake father, a political independent who served as governor of Maine from 1975 to 1979.
Longley has attended to the 1st District, returning practically on a weekly basis and sounding out voters and local groups about their concerns.
But Allen and his allies appear to have successfully portrayed Longley as too conservative for this district, which had been represented for 30 years without pause by moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats (including Longley's predecessor, Democrat Thomas H. Andrews, who ran for the Senate in 1994). Allen has made hay by blaming Longley for votes to cut or reduce future funding for Medicare, Head Start and a program to help low-income residents pay their heating bills (literally a hot-button issue in this northerly state).
Allen, who won a tough primary battle, began criticizing Longley's record even before he had won the nod. "He is perceived as being responsive to Newt Gingrich and not to the people of Maine," Allen said. Leans Democratic.