Jackson cries foul over enviro-group’s planned $150k ad campaign against him

Senate Majority Leader and 2nd Congressional District candidate Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. BDN photo by Troy Bennett.

Senate Majority Leader and 2nd Congressional District candidate Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. BDN photo by Troy Bennett.

Troy Jackson’s dust-up with the League of Conservation Voters over the group’s plan to dump $150,000 into ads opposing the 2nd Congressional District candidate can be summed pretty well by these tweets:

The league — that’s spokesman Jeff Gohringer in the tweet — says it’s all about Jackson’s record. He says it’s really all about money — specifically a $25,000 contribution to the league by S. Donald Sussman, a particularly deep-pocketed supporter of his Democratic primary opponent.

Jackson is peeved about being put on the environmental group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, usually reserved for candidates with truly abysmal environmental records. Jackson’s got a lifetime score of 64 percent from the group, compared with his Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Emily Cain of Orono, who’s got a 90 percent lifetime score.

In the most recent session, LCV gave Jackson a score of 5/7. Cain got a 6/7. So why the attack ads?

It’s all about the money, says Jackson (hence that tweet above). LCV announced its endorsement for Cain back in March, about two weeks after receiving a $25,000 donation from Sussman, a wealthy hedge fund manager, Portland Press Herald owner and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s husband.

Jackson is using that donation to his advantage, casting the group’s endorsement of Cain and its planned attacks against him as proof positive that he’s the real candidate fighting for working class Mainers.

“I don’t have a hedge fund billionaire and his friends paying for my seat in Congress,” he wrote in a press release. “People like that won’t support people like me because they know they can’t buy me off. I want to go to Washington to fight against Wall Street influence, not carry their water. I want to bring the voice of working Mainers to the floor of Congress, where more than half of the members are millionaires out of touch with everyday life and the needs of a vast majority of people in the Second District.”

The League says its beef with Jackson is based on the facts. In the ads — mailers destined for the Bangor and Portland areas, see here and here — They cite two votes in particular — one involving coal plant pollution in 2008 and another regarding state pesticide rules in 2011 — where Cain was on their side and Jackson wasn’t. They also cite the 26-point difference in Can and Jackson’s lifetime scores as reason for the ads.

Jackson’s campaign on Tuesday put out a fact sheet for media, pointing out that LCV has never before named a Democrat primary candidate to the Dirty Dozen list, nor had the group put someone on the list with a score higher than 40 percent. (EDIT: Turns out, that’s not true: Gohringer pointed to the 2012 inclusion of U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pennsylvania, on the list, and he had a lifetime score of 55 percent. Holden lost his primary).

It also pointed out that Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins had the same one-year score as Jackson — 71 percent — back in 2012, and the group praised her and spent money on her behalf.

So what gives?

Bottom line: Cain’s record is more in line with the League’s goals than Jackson, even if it’s not by much. If the break from history means anything, it’s likely that the race between Jackson and Cain is seen as a little too close for comfort for the League.

They pretty much say this themselves, in the press release linked above: The Dirty Dozen isn’t just about which candidate has the best record, they say. It’s about candidates “running races in which the LCV has a serious chance to affect the outcome.”

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.