SCARED? - Baldacci brings in the Dems' biggest gun

Appearing tonight at the South Portland Marriott with Governor John Baldacci is former president Bill Clinton. Why the Dems have flown in their biggest asset to boost a governor whose approval ratings are right up there with Dubya is an interesting point.

Clinton, who apparently can draw $500 a plate in Maine (and much, much more elsewhere), will attempt to lift the reelection odds of Baldacci, who faces not only a runoff in his own party (admittedly against a dark horse), but the winner of an impressive three-man Republican primary field, and a Green Independent candidate.

The national Dems are no doubt concerned about keeping hold of a vulnerable Democratic governorship in the year they are trying to retake the US House of Representatives. But with a visit from Arizona senator John McCain boosting Republican David Emery, Baldacci may be feeling the heat.

His poll numbers, according to a statewide study released last week by Critical Insights, are in the toilet, with an approval rating of 47 percent, but only 30 percent having a "favorable opinion" of him. And it is a dead heat whether Baldacci deserves to be reelected, as the difference between the number of those who say yes and those who say no is within the study's margin of error.

If Clinton says Baldacci should be reelected, though, maybe those numbers will jump. And just maybe, they'll stay high enough through the fall to keep the guy in office.

(Look for more details on the gov's primary - and the Democratic primary for the privilege of challenging Olympia Snowe - in this week's issue of the Phoenix.)

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