National buzz follows Raye’s potential congressional bid

Augusta insiders long ago concluded that Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, is planning a run at U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, in 2012.

It appears word is getting out. Today the D.C.-based magazine Roll Call published a piece in which Raye acknowledged that he was “considering” the bid.

Maine political junkies don’t think Raye is considering it. They think he’s running, a proclamation echoed last week by Matthew Gagnon, the Republican insider who runs the Pine Tree Politics blog.

That view was shared by many in the State House this session as many saw Raye as a thoughtful and respected leader during a session rocked early by turmoil.

In fact, Democrats and Republicans privately wondered if the Senate president’s political ambition was fueling his full-court press to gain legislative authorization for the Biddeford racino and partner facility in Washington County. Although that effort ultimately failed, some opined that Raye’s memorable exertion there, along with his successful push to alter the state’s school funding formula to benefit rural districts, would play favorably in the 2nd Congressional District.

There were other clues, specifically the consistent presence of Kathie Summers-Grice, the political consultant who served during Raye’s 2002 congressional run, a bid he lost to Michaud by just 4 percentage points.

Summers-Grice was often spotted with Raye this legislative session, particularly during the final months. Unlike Raye’s other communications staff, Summers-Grice isn’t a state employee. She’s an outside consultant who currently operates EatonRiver Strategies LLC.

According to Maine Ethics Commission disclosure documents, EatonRiver received $3,500 this year from the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC for expenses accrued during the 2010 campaign.

So far Raye’s leadership political action committee, Responsible Action Yields Excellence (or R.A.Y.E), hasn’t made any disbursements to Summers-Grice or EatonRiver.

The July quarterly filings are due by Friday at midnight.