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Brunswick GOP leader under fire for sign backing Green candidate

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Brunswick GOP leader under fire for sign backing Green candidate

BRUNSWICK — A campaign sign for a Green Independent candidate in the front yard of a local Republican leader is raising eyebrows and questions from Democrats and Republicans.

Jonathan Crimmins, chairman of the Brunswick Republican Committee, said the sign urging votes for Green candidate Fred Horch in House District 66 belongs to his wife.

Crimmins said he supports all local Republican candidates, including Grant Connors in District 66, although he is friends with Horch. Crimmins and Horch were candidates in the district in 2010.

"I'm taken aback by (the questions)," Crimmins said. "In the last couple of months I've been working on the behalf of all (local Republican) candidates."

Horch said he has known Crimmins since they ran against each other in 2010, and he didn't know anything about who the Republican leader is supporting.

The Green Independent candidate said he met with Crimmins earlier this year after Crimmins asked him if he was going to run again. They talked about local policies and the fact that Crimmins wasn't going to run again.

"I have a lot of respect for (Crimmins)," Horch said.

The questions about Crimmins were raised publicly last week when a constituent wrote a letter to The Forecaster.

"While all of us have the right to support and vote for whomever we choose, how appropriate is it for an officer of the local party organization to retain his position while actively working against his own party's objectives?" wrote Jeff Morse, a registered Republican, in an Oct. 8 letter to the editor.

Morse said he based his letter on the sign he saw in Crimmins' Jordan Avenue yard.

Andy Cashman, chairman of the Brunswick Democratic Committee, said he would resign from committee leadership if he were in Crimmins' position.

"I would feel obligated to resign because as a chair of the (local Democratic committee), it's your obligation to support the local Democratic candidates," Cashman said.

Jim Grant, chairman of the School Board and a registered Republican, said that while he will vote for Horch this year, he thinks Morse raised a good question.

"It's peculiar, it's odd and it's interesting," the School Board chairman said, noting that he served as campaign manager for Crimmins in a 2008 House race.

The other curious thing about the sign, Grant said, is that there are no others signs in Crimmins' yard – even for Republican candidates running in other races.

Crimmins said there are no other signs on his property because he has been planting them in other parts of town and providing them to other constituents.

"I haven't hoarded them for myself," he said.

But the complaints aren't limited to the sign.

Connors said he has received very little support at all from the local GOP committee since he started campaigning in August.

"There is not as much support from the committee for me as I think there should be," the candidate said, adding that it's a tough district for a Republican because of the area's liberal leanings.

District 66 includes neighborhoods around the Pleasant Street business district and the Maine Street downtown area, along with a part of Bowdoin College. Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick, has represented the district and is not seeking re-election. Matthea Daughtry is the Democratic candidate.

Connors said he was solicited to be the Republican candidate after John Bouchard moved to District 63 to challenge Rep. Charles Priest, D-Brunswick.

Crimmins said Connors received a unanimous nomination from the committee. As for Connors' concern about a lack of support, he said he has heard very little from the candidate.

"I had told Grant that it was a very difficult endeavor," Crimmins said. "Brunswick is not an easy place to run as a Republican."

He said "Connors has received the same level of assistance any other candidate has."

This includes e-mails and letters to get Clean Election contributions for the candidate, along with providing him advice on how to run his campaign.

"I wish Grant all the best," Crimmins said. "As a Republican committee leader, we want Republicans to get elected."

David Sorensen, a spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, said the party supports all local Republican candidates 100 percent. He said the suggestion that Crimmins is supporting Horch is unfair.

"He has endorsed the Republican candidate," Sorensen said.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.