Vice President Joe Biden will be in Kittery Wednesday morning to tour the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for “an event to highlight the shipyard’s workforce engagement,” according to a media advisory.
Accompanying Biden will be Democratic U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree of Maine, as well as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, both of New Hampshire.
Biden’s visit has a partisan tinge, coming at a time when political campaigns in each state shift into high gear. On Tuesday, former Pres. Bill Clinton was scheduled to headline a rally for Michaud’s campaign.
Michaud is in a tight gubernatorial race against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler, while Shaheen is looking to fend off a challenge by Republican Scott Brown, who according to his campaign website was born at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1959. Brown won a special election in Massachusetts in 2010 to replace U.S Sen. Ted Kennedy, after he died 2009.
The visit also comes as elected officials in Maine and New Hampshire are awaiting word about whether they will receive a federal grant to help rebuild the rail portion of the Sarah Long Bridge, which connects Kittery to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who is supporting LePage’s re-election, and Independent Sen. Angus King, who recently endorsed Cutler for governor, have not announced plans to attend Biden’s visit, even though both have lobbied the administration for federal funding for bridge project.
In a statement from her office, Collins said she is hopeful the visit will cause the Obama administration to abandon a proposal for an other round of military base closures. The Portsmouth shipyard narrowly escaped shutdown in the last round of closures.
Maine’s Democratic representatives both issued written statements ahead of Biden’s visit praising the quality and importance of the work done in Kittery.