Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Political Bases

PPH PhotoMilitary bases in Maine have long been a political issue. For decades, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and other installations have been targeted for closure and it has often been the strength of the state's congressional delegation that has saved them. Muskie, Mitchell, and Cohen have all played crucial roles in this regard.

Cohen, interestingly enough, later changed his position on BRAC and ran the base closing initiative for the Clinton administration. The former Secretary of State has most recently worked as a consultant in Florida helping to keep their bases open (Florida is slated to gain military jobs from the recommendations released Friday).

In 1994, Olympia Snowe won her Senate seat in large part because she was seen as more likely to preserve Maine's military bases than fellow House member Tom Andrews who had voted for a BRAC list that included Loring Air Force Base.

Now PNS is being targeted for total closure, BNAS is scheduled to lose all its aircraft and half its personnel, and the Defense accounting center in Limestone is also slated to be eliminated for a total combined loss of almost 7,000 jobs. This is the second highest number of jobs lost by any state in the country under this list (Connecticut is losing slightly more) and will hit Maine incredibly hard.

There is a tendency to assign political motives to the choice of bases to be closed. Many have commented on the fact that "blue" states are slated to lose jobs while "red" states gain from this list, others believe that the Maine closings are a not-so-subtle prod from the Bush administration to get Maine's Republican Senators in line with White House objectives. The high level of political maneuvering that has historically accompanied base closures gives some weight to these ideas.

In any case, the political fallout from these closures may be high. Senator Snowe has perhaps the most to lose. She has often portrayed herself as a Washington insider who could use her connections to preserve Maine's bases and these closures could make her seem politically impotent.

The list isn't yet final. It will be reviewed by an independent 9-member commission which can make some changes before it goes to the President for an up-or-down decision and then Congress for an up-or-down vote. Workers, community leaders, state politicians and Maine's entire congressional delegation have pledged to fight to preserve these bases.

Check out this PPH article for reactions from Allen, Michaud, Collins and Snowe and this one for reactions from Baldacci and state legislators.

Update MPBN, as is usually the case, has excellent coverage.

Visit the new Maine Politics.


The BRAC hasn't been involved to this point. The recommendations have come from the DOD. The politics start now. It will be very difficult to get BRAC to reverse the DOD recommendations. Kennedy and Kerry, bluest of blue, gained in this situation. 

Posted by Bob

5/14/2005 09:29:00 PM


BRAC stands for Base Realignment and Closure. It's the name for the whole process overseen by the DOD.

I believe what you're referring to is the BRACC or the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

Here 's a handy list of definitions. 

Posted by Mike

5/14/2005 10:26:00 PM


Republicans now have the inside track on developing Maine bases scheduled for closure and reallignment.

NASB sprawls over into Topsham and includes a great deal of recently improved housing; as well as the potential to become a regional industrial airpark like Sanford. A small group of mainly Republicans have been working quietly over the past few years on conversion plans for vacated facilities. There is a large preschool center that could easily be converted into a pre-k public school or a charter school.

Kittery is OCEANFRONT....hello! Although the closing will take a long time, this is a world class opportunity for a developer the caliber of Joe Boulos or even Donald Trump. It could easily become a mecca for retirees on the scale of Sarasota.

There is a great need to 'account' for the lost billions spent/mispent by DHHS and MEDOE over the past decade. Key Legislators who have oversight over these agencies are dismayed at the b.s. they've gotten from the Baldacci administration on the mess with Medicaid, creative accounting with migrant education programs, and so on.

Training and redeploying Limestones auditors and accountants on these agencies would go a long way towards providing a solid benchmark to chart their future direction. I've heard a task force proposal is already in the works and funded using base closing money. What a fantastic proposal! 

Posted by HOUSE

5/15/2005 09:40:00 AM


Right on, now we fight. I am a member of the NASB Task Force. Please visit our site  or our blog to learn more and comment. 

Posted by Amy Bickford

5/15/2005 09:41:00 AM


House, I find it very sad that you are trying to turn this into a partisan issue, and even sadder that you have already made plans to profit off the loss of 7,000 jobs. 

Posted by Al

5/15/2005 11:53:00 AM


I'm so sorry takes so much time to eliminate all the references by LIB/DEM's to how much the 'blue' states are suffering and all their venom directed at Bush and Cheney to realize that your welfare mentality extended to obsolete DOD jobs and deployments.

S A V E T H O S E J O B's that? 

Posted by HOUSE

5/16/2005 06:05:00 PM



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