Maine finalizes presidential electors ahead of next week’s vote

In Maine, four electors will convene at the state house in Augusta, next Monday, Dec. 14, at...
In Maine, four electors will convene at the state house in Augusta, next Monday, Dec. 14, at 2:00 p.m.(Gray tv)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 6:53 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - The 2020 presidential election is moving one step closer to completion on Tuesday, as states finalize their lists of electors, the people who will formally pick the president when the Electoral College meets next week.

In Maine, four electors will convene at the state house in Augusta, next Monday, Dec. 14, at 2:00 p.m. Three are committed to support President-elect Joe Biden, who carried the state with 53% of the vote.

One elector will cast a vote for President Donald Trump, who won the second congressional district. Only Maine and Nebraska allocate most electors by districts, while the other 48 states are winner-take-all.

The youngest Biden elector, Jay Philbrick, 18, of North Yarmouth, represents the first congressional district.

“I’ve seen the power of the government to do good in people’s lives, and that’s what really inspires me,” Philbrick said, a Democrat.

Philbrick graduated this spring from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, where he was student government president. He begins his freshman year at Brown University in January.

Like a lot of young Democrats, his first choice in the presidential primaries was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, but he is also inspired by the president-elect.

“I think Joe Biden, his story and really his entire political career, has been about seeing the human on the other side of the political conflict, and that’s what really speaks to me,” said Philbrick.

The Maine Democratic Party chose Philbrick to be an elector at its state convention this year.

“I sent about 2,000 text messages to all the delegates,” Philbrick said. “Although the job of a presidential elector is symbolic and temporary, I think symbols are really important.”

Trump’s lone elector in Maine is a longtime Republican Party activist, Pete Laverdiere, 79, of Oxford, in the second congressional district.

“My belief system is so in tune with what Trump has done that I can’t envision anyone else I’d rather do it for,” said Laverdiere, a retired insurance salesman and Maine Republican Party committee member for the past 20 years. “Trump has been the best president that this country could ever conceive of having, bar none. He’s kept his promises.”

In Laverdiere’s first campaign, as a Boston College student, in 1960, he opposed Massachusetts’ favorite son, John F. Kennedy, in favor of Republican Richard Nixon.

This year, when the state Republican party asked Laverdiere to serve as a Trump elector, he said yes “in a heartbeat.”

“I got more signatures for Trump for the primary race than anyone else,” he said.

Along with New Hampshire, the 2nd Congressional District became a presidential battleground this year, with multiple visits to northern Maine by Trump, his sons, and Vice President Mike Pence, to keep the electoral vote in the Trump-Pence column. Jill Biden also visited twice.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if it came to a tie, and I had the breaking vote,” Laverdiere said.

That scenario disappeared with Biden securing 306 electoral votes, according to certified election results, safely above the 270 needed to win the White House.

“I know some people right in town that, you know, would kick me in the butt for saying I support Trump, but that’s okay,” Laverdiere said. “Forget his tweets. Forget trying to look up his nose and trying to figure out what’s in his brain. What he’s done has been so dynamic for this country.”

While supporting Biden’s victory, Philbrick also sees himself as setting an example for his generation.

He said, “If I can be a presidential elector, show people that this is what someone involved in politics looks like, show that young people can hold our own, in policy and debates about our system, not only does that set up good engagement habits, it sets up good voting habits.”

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