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Beating back critics, LePage book trumpets governor’s successes

Press Herald Politics -

Fed up with what he believes are unfair portrayals of Gov. Paul LePage by progressive media organizations bent on destroying him, conservative talk radio host Ray Richardson next month will release a book of personal reflections and observations about the achievements during LePage’s first term.

“Rebuilding Maine’s Future: The Untold Story of Gov. Paul LePage,” will be released Sept. 4 by Walch Printing of Portland, and was self-published by Richardson. He is charging $10 for the 121-page tome.

The release was trumpeted in an email blast by Maine Republican Party chairman Rick Bennett, who urged the party faithful to pick up a copy. A portion of the $10 purchase price will be donated to Wreaths Across America in the name of First Lady Ann LePage.

In a brief interview Wednesday, Richardson, an unabashed LePage supporter and friend of the governor, said he set out to write the book a month ago after reading a public letter critical of the governor in a column by Portland Press Herald writer Bill Nemitz.

“I feel like the media in general, and progressive activists in the state have been very unfair to the governor,” Richardson said. “Bill Nemitz is a long-time-friend, but after reading his last love letter (to the govenror) about a month ago, I said I’m tired of this, there’s a side to this governor that people don’t know.”

Although Richardson said he did not collaborate with the governor on the book, the table of contents closely reflects LePage’s political agenda: Richardson touches on the repayment of MaineCare hospital debt; the oft-cited figure of 20,000 new jobs created on LePage’s watch; a massive tax cut; the defeat of MaineCare expansion and a chapter titled “Waste, fraud and abuse,” a look at LePage’s efforts to reform welfare.

“Paul LePage’s administration has accomplished so many things this book would be closer to Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ if I covered them all,” Richardson writes in his conclusion.

“He is not a perfect man. None of us are. He is, however, a very good man, and that is one thing you should get from this book.”

Here are a few paragraphs from the opening chapter, in which Richardson explains his motivation for putting pen to paper:

Between my daily talk show and writing a newspaper column, I have been in the media for almost a decade and a half. Although I am not perfect, I have worked hard at staying focused on the issues and leaving the personal attacks to people who were less informed and out of intellectual ammunition.

The issues are what matter. Everything else is merely personal ambitions run amok as people and organizations seek to advance their political agendas through the demonization of their opponents. Although Maine has historically avoided so much of the nasty political rhetoric that is rampant in more populous areas, I have personally witnessed an obsession by Governor Paul LePage’s opponents that is designed not only to defeat his ideas but to destroy him personally.

They attack everything. They attack his family. They attack his upbringing. They attack his lack of eloquence and his Franco-American heritage. If his name were Barack Obama, this would be attributed to racism and hatred based on skin color. Because this man believes in self-reliance and the power of the individual to emancipate himself from his circumstances, hatred thrown his way daily is dismissed as justifiable to accomplish his destruction.

I have written this book to give people of good will a brief, but necessary, look at an alternative view of Governor LePage and the impact of his policies on Maine’s future. People who are truly interested in being informed about the issues, not based on sound bites but based on the facts in proper context, will find this book eye-opening.

The post Beating back critics, LePage book trumpets governor’s successes appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Democratic PAC airing ads against Collins

Press Herald Politics -

A liberal political action committee has launched a six-figure television ad campaign against Republican Sen. Susan Collins in the first major attack ad of Maine’s Senate race.

Democracy for America, which was started by former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean, plans to spend $300,000 on ads running statewide over the next two weeks. The two 60-second ads accuse Collins of favoring the wealthy over working-class Americans by supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, opposing a $10.10 minimum wage and blocking Wall Street reform efforts.

“Susan Collins caved in to Mitch McConnell and the tea party . . . helping billionaires and big corporations,” say two unidentified speakers in the ad.

One of the two ads also praises Collins’ Democratic challenger, Shenna Bellows. The former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Bellows has painted herself as better suited than Collins to representing middle/working-class Mainers and women – the same groups targeted by the Democracy for America ads.

You can find the two ads here and here.

Federal campaign spending rules prohibit Democracy for America – or other groups making independent expenditures – from coordinating with the Bellows camp on the ads. But the Collins campaign pointed out that Bellows credited the PAC – as well as other liberal and progressive advocacy groups – with helping her raise money via crowd-sourcing in order to begin airing her own TV ads early in the campaign season.

“Desperation has set in with the Bellows campaign,” Collins’ campaign spokesman, Lance Dutson, said in an email to media. “Last week, they released an internal poll showing her losing by 24%, and garnering the support of only 64% of Democrats. Yesterday, the Maine Democratic Party sent a tracker to watch Senator Collins and dozens of her supporters eat ice cream at Gifford’s Ice Cream stand in Skowhegan. And today, Shenna’s allies began running negative ads designed to attract the support of Democrats.”

The internal poll that Dutson referred to shows Collins leading Bellows 57 percent to 33 percent – a wide margin but considerably slimmer than the 55 point spread separating the candidates in a June poll commissioned from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center by the Portland Press Herald.

The Bellows campaign’s internal polling – conducted by Public Policy Polling, or PPP – suggests that Bellows is gaining traction with Democrats in Maine. If true, that would be a welcome shift for Bellows because previous polls, including the Press Herald survey, showed her struggling to pick up Democratic support against a popular incumbent consistently ranked as one of the Senate’s more moderate Republicans.

 

The post Democratic PAC airing ads against Collins appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

LePage becomes subject of second partisan book; pro-Cutler court ruling likely to benefit LePage, Michaud

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Call it the year of the political thrillers in Maine, though how thrilled you are probably depends on your political persuasion.

Ray Richardson, a conservative talk radio host on WLOB, has announced the imminent release of a new book titled “Governor Paul LePage: Rebuilding Maine’s Future.” That’s what it says on the book’s cover, though according to Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett in a Wednesday morning press release, the title is “Rebuilding Maine’s Future: The Untold Story of Gov. Paul LePage.”

Anyway, Richardson promises that the book will detail LePage’s policy achievements during his first term and shed light on the governor’s thought process and overall vision for Maine.

“I write this book as someone who knows LePage personally and professionally,” said Richardson in Bennett’s press release. “I talk to him about the ideas and what drives his thinking on issues. His critics cannot say that. In most cases, they have never even spoken to him.”

Richardson’s book, which will begin to be shipped next week to anyone who pays $10 for it, will likely serve as a counterpoint to many of the criticisms of LePage’s leadership style and ideology. Those criticisms were detailed in withering fashion earlier this year with the publication of another book, “As Maine Went,” by liberal BDN blogger and Democratic activist and Maine People’s Alliance spokesman Mike Tipping.

Both books will provide fodder for and against LePage going into the November election and I’m assuming Richardson’s book will be heavy on research as was Tipping’s. Considering the day jobs of the authors, though, neither will strike a balance between giving LePage both the credits and demerits he’s earned during his first term.

Maine Ethics Commission to provide clarity in pro-Cutler court ruling

The Maine Ethics Commission will convene this afternoon in Augusta to, among other things, provide clarity on a U.S. District Court ruling last week that will allow donors to independent gubernatorial candidates to contribute up to $3,000. Until now, independent candidates, who because they are not part of one of the major political parties don’t participate in primary elections, have been limited to collect $1,500. Four Cutler supporters contended in a lawsuit earlier this summer that the system is unfair to independents and U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby agreed.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Ethics Commission, wrote in a memo to reporters on Wednesday morning that the ruling would likely also benefit LePage and Democratic nominee Mike Michaud because they will be able to collect the full $3,000 from new donors, even though the primary election has already passed. That scenario would still benefit Cutler more because the independent would be able to go back to big-money individual donors who have already supported his campaign with the $1,500 limit and ask for more, whereas LePage and Michaud’s increased collections would come predominantly from new donors.

Watch www.bangordailynews.com this afternoon for additional coverage.

Maine Senator blasts Obama admin for obstructing public watchdogs

The Maine Wire -

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins blasted President Barack Obama’s administration on Wednesday for stymieing public watchdogs throughout the federal government. “It is unacceptable that the Obama administration is hindering the efforts of inspectors general,” Collins said. “These independent watchdogs are indispensable in preventing waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars, and they are an invaluable resource […]

Clinton comes to help Michaud

Rebekah Metzler -

The nation’s top Democratic draw – former President Bill Clinton – is headed to Maine to stump for Mike Michaud. The gubernatorial candidate can expect both a fundraising boost and, more importantly, a potent adrenaline shot to the arm of his campaign following the Sept. 2 event.

But Clinton has stumped for losing candidates before (ask 2010 Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell). And Michaud, who is duking it out with Republican Gov. Paul LePage in the race for the Blaine House, will need the Big Dog’s visit to kick off a high-energy campaign season, rather than serve as a last minute attempt to stave off a loss, as it did for Mitchell.

Per a release from his campaign, Michaud will be joined by Clinton for an evening rally and reception at Ocean Gateway in Portland.

“Just three hours after announcing that President Bill Clinton will campaign with U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud next Tuesday, the free rally reached capacity with more than 750 online RSVPs for general admission,” a Michaud release breathlessly said.

The Democrat highlighted Clinton’s reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker in his statement on the event.

In 2010, Clinton visited Southern Maine Community College in South Portland in late September as part of a three-state New England stump trip.

While Michaud and LePage remain neck-and-neck at the top of the polls, independent candidate Eliot Cutler – who narrowly lost to LePage last time around following Mitchell’s nosedive – remains stuck in a distant third place. Cutler received a boost of sorts last week when his fellow independent, Sen. Angus King, endorsed his candidacy. But he’s still struggling to compete for the anti-LePage voters with Michaud.

One Maine Democratic strategist thinks Cutler’s only shot is if the national political picture worsens for Democrats, thus dragging less-partisan-minded voters away from Michaud. Or, if the Maine Democratic Party falters as it did in 2010, by pushing out offensive, xenophobic mailers highlighting Cutler’s Chinese business ties.

“But I don’t see that happening again, and only see Cutler in a distant third, similar to [Mitchell] in 2010,” he says.

Another local political hand, a Republican, is a bit more snarky when describing how Cutler can triumph: “Magic fairies appear above Portland and sprinkle magic dust over the land.”

But seriously?

“A couple public polls showing Michaud trailing LePage would create an opening; desperate anti-LePage voters start acting frantically,” he says. “Or, LePage royally steps in it again and Cutler grabs a few points of GOP support, bringing it closer to 30-30-30 [polling breakdown], and Cutler squeaks by.”

Cutler opens Lewiston campaign office, his third

Press Herald Politics -

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler on Tuesday opened a campaign office in Lewiston, his third.

The other two Cutler campaign offices are located in Portland and Bangor.

The Lewiston location will be headed by Terry Hayes, a four-term state legislator.

“The Lewiston-Auburn communities are vitally important to Maine as well as to the success of any campaign for statewide office,” Cutler said in a statement following the opening. “I am pleased that we will now have a formal presence in the twin cities and a place for our many supporters in the area get information and to volunteer.”

Cutler’s physical presence is outpaced by his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, whose campaign is coordinated with the Maine Democratic Party. Michaud has a single office in Portland, but the party operates 20 more throughout the state where volunteers work on Michaud’s behalf making phone calls and organizing canvassing, said Lizzy Reinholt, a Michaud spokeswoman.

Gov. Paul LePage maintains a single campaign office in Augusta.

 

The post Cutler opens Lewiston campaign office, his third appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Lois Lerner’s emails DO exist

The Maine Wire -

Emails from the federal bureaucrat at the heart of the IRS corruption scandal do exist, according to government lawyers and the watchdog group Judicial Watch. The revelation, which runs directly contrary to almost a year of testimony from Obama administration officials and other IRS officials, emerged Monday as a result of Judicial Watch’s work to uncover […]

Goodbye summer. Hello college and paying for it.

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Late August is always a busy, bittersweet time.

Summer is ending and school is starting.

Two months from now, costumed children will come knocking, shouting “Trick or treat.” Two months ago, high schools sent another crop of young people off to jobs, the military, technical school and college.

For the first time in 25 years, my household will have no child at home to wake up or wake us. Our youngest has gone off to college, launched into a new, exciting phase of life, leaving us without a plate to fill (and fill and fill) and only us to mow the lawn.

The last few months felt like an in-between time. Our teenager had work to get to and Katahdin to climb (twice) and a schedule that didn’t match up with the rest of the family’s. He drove more than ever before, more independent (good) but still a relatively inexperienced driver behind the wheel (scary).

(Those fears were heightened by the tragic accident earlier this month on Route 1A that killed our daughter’s vivacious high school friend, Roxanne Papken, her friend Phillip Carter, and Richard Olson, the driver of the car who hit them. Roxanne had been an English major at the University of Maine who was always recommending something good to read, often sharing a volume. When you next pick up a novel, think of Roxanne.)

Students first attending and returning to college bring their own experiences. Some have loved ones with severe illnesses or a parent out of work. Others have lives of joy and support. Most are somewhere in-between.

There are students with the sort of excellent preparation my children got in the Bangor schools. And there are some whose was not as good (but Gov. Paul LePage’s claim that out-of-state institutions require Maine high school seniors to take a special admissions test just isn’t true).

Most will have issues paying for college. Maine student debt, held by 67 percent of college graduates, averages nearly $30,000.

Student debt makes it harder for graduates to establish themselves and hurts our society and economy.

According to the bond rating agency Standard and Poors, the “education gap is a main reason for the growing income divide, and it affects both wages and net worth.” Growing income inequality stifles economic growth and makes it harder for low income people to move up.

There are schools with remarkably generous financial aid but they are the hardest to get into and their students are disproportionately from educated, high-income families.

Keeping down and reducing the cost of attendance will make the biggest difference for people from families without much money to pay college bills. They may even shy away from college because of its cost and the prospect of debt. However, people without education beyond high school earn less than those with a two or four year degree.

Today public higher education is less well funded than before. At the University of Maine, state appropriations used to cover about two-thirds of higher education costs but now fund around a third. More state support will only come if taxpayers think the money is focused on classrooms, not administration.

What do Maine’s gubernatorial candidates want to do?

Eliot Cutler supports a “pay it forward” plan, allowing graduates to pay back loans over a long period of time. An analysis by the Century Foundation finds this approach creates substantial financial burdens for states and doesn’t do much for students. Oregon, the source of the idea, recently decided not to implement it statewide, opting to put its funds into “a huge expansion of need-based financial aid and bolstering community college and university operations.”

Gov. LePage’s campaign web page mentions his 2010 plan of a fifth year of high school for college credit but, as the Press Herald noted, “it was not part of the package of education reforms that LePage pushed in 2012.” Just a pilot program was tried.

Rep. Mike Michaud would reduce students’ costs by holding public university tuition steady for four years and having the state cover tuition for the second year. That’s more generous than what students get now but less comprehensive than the aid certain students receive in Tennessee and Texas.

This year, Halloween decorations will mix with campaign lawn signs. It’s up to us to choose whether our students get a trick or a treat.

 

RGA ad recasts LePage as “blunt, honest, one of a kind”

Press Herald Politics -

The Republican Governor’s Association is out with its second TV ad for Gov. Paul LePage, burnishing his economic record while framing the Republican governor as a “unique” personality in the race.

“Some people like their politicians blow-dried,” intones a female voice, played over clips of actors pretending to be stodgy politicians mugging for the camera. “Others prefer the cookie cutter model, or those who always have the perfect sound bite. And then there is Paul LePage.”

The ad trumpets the familiar issues championed by the LePage campaign so far: Repayment of Maine’s Medicaid hospital debt, a massive tax cut passed in 2011, a crackdown on welfare programs, and thousands of private sector jobs added during his tenure, which coincided with the ongoing, national recovery from the 2008 economic downtown.

These facts about his record will be repeated often between now and November, along with a slew of less flattering facts that will be bandied about by LePage’s opponents, Democrat Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler. Where the ad breaks new ground is its kicker, and like all political advertising, it contains the subtext that political strategists hope voters remember.

“Blunt. Honest. One of a Kind. Paul LePage. He’s unique, like Maine.”

Democrats responded to the advertisement, saying that Maine’s economy is not recovering as fast as other New England states or the rest of the nation, and that LePage’s divisive style has already cost the state investment and jobs, as with his refusal to issue $100 million in construction bonds, and the collapse of a potential deal with Norwegian company Statoil over a wind farm investment in the state.

“The new ad … completely glosses over the hurtful, offensive and embarrassing comments made by Paul LePage during the last four years – and even goes as far to say this type of leadership is a ‘good thing for Maine,’” said Rachel Irwin, spokeswoman for the Maine Democratic Party, in a response statement issued Monday.

“Governor LePage’s offensive behavior during the past four years should not be celebrated in a campaign ad.”

The post RGA ad recasts LePage as “blunt, honest, one of a kind” appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Collins embarks on bus tour as Bellows pushes for more debates

Press Herald Politics -

Maine Sen. Susan Collins will begin a three-day bus tour Tuesday in Bangor as she gears up her ground campaign against Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows.

Collins is expected to stop in communities in Penobscot, Somerset, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Oxford, York and Cumberland counties during the three-day tour, according to her campaign.

The Republican senator will make similar bus trips around the state leading up to the fall election, but the length of the initial leg of Collins’ tour appears to have been carefully chosen. Collins plans to cover “more than 350 miles” during the first stretch of her “All of Maine” bus tour, which begins exactly two weeks after Bellows completed a 350-mile “Walk Across Maine for Jobs and the Economy.”

Collins also staged a statewide bus tour during her 2008 campaign against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Allen.

“The purpose of the bus tour is so that the senator can meet with as many Mainers as possible from Fort Kent to Kittery and everywhere in between,” Collins’ spokesman, Lance Dutson, said on Monday. “This is the traditional way that the senator campaigns.”

The bus will start in Bangor on Tuesday and end in Skowhegan, with stops in between. On Wednesday, the tour will start in Lewiston and end in Sanford. And on Thursday it will begin in Wells before driving to Bath via Kittery, Saco and Scarborough and Portland.

Bellows, the campaign underdog, trekked from Houlton to Kittery in a campaign walk modeled after one undertaken by Republican Bill Cohen during his first congressional campaign in 1972. She received considerable local media coverage along the way, which is likely to help her gain name recognition – and a potential jump in the polls – as she tries to unseat the popular Republican incumbent.

In another development in Maine’s U.S. Senate race, the Bellows campaign is pushing the Collins camp to agree to more debates earlier in the election season.

The two campaigns have agreed to five televised debates – two in Portland and one each in Bangor, Auburn and Presque Isle – beginning on Oct. 20. But Bellows campaign manager Katie Mae Simpson wrote to her counterpart asking for at least two more debates before Oct. 20 because Congress is expected to spend less and less time in Washington as the elections near.

“While the schedule of a sitting senator is often busy, Sen. Collins is a candidate as well as a lawmaker, especially once she returns to Maine from Washington,” Simpson wrote to Collins campaign manager Steve Abbott. “There is no reason to prevent voters from hearing both candidates speak on the same stage until the campaign is nearly over.”

Dutson called the slate of five agreed-to debates “a great campaign schedule” and indicated that the Collins campaign is unlikely to agree to more, however.

“So I think that is where we will stand with the debates,” Dutson said.

Those who has been following the pre-Labor Day machinations of Maine’s political campaigns likely know that who debates whom – and how often – has spawned its own intense debate.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has been railing against his two opponents, Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, because Cutler wants more than the six debates scheduled so far.

In the race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Emily Cain and independent Blaine Richardson have been pressuring Republican Bruce Poliquin to agree to debates with all three candidates but to no avail. Poliquin has pushed to exclude Richardson, a fellow conservative.

There are currently at least three debates scheduled for the 1st Congressional District race between incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Republican challenger Isaac Misiuk. The Republican has also urged Pingree to eight town hall events, however.

The post Collins embarks on bus tour as Bellows pushes for more debates appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Planned Parenthood chief’s rally for Mike Michaud postponed two days ahead of time

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud

A “Women for Michaud” rally by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which was scheduled for Wednesday in Portland in support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, has been postponed.

The Michaud campaign said in a written statement that the event will be rescheduled for sometime this fall. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said she could not be in Maine this week.

“Mike Michaud is a champion for women’s health and rights and the contrast in this election couldn’t be clearer,” said Richards in a written statement. “I’m sorry that I won’t be able to be at the rally in Portland this week, but I look forward to coming up to Maine to support Mike later in the fall.”

The Planned Parenthood PAC endorsed Michaud’s candidacy in June.

Maine Republican mailers attack Michaud on immigration

Press Herald Politics -

Further evidence emerged over the weekend that the immigration debate will have a home the race to be the next governor of Maine — a state located nearly 2,500 miles from the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Maine Republican Party sent out direct mailers hitting Democratic Rep. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for failing to secure the border and supporting assistance to illegal immigrants. Party Spokesman David Sorensen said the mailer was “sent throughout the state in large quantity.”

Michaud campaign Spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt called the mailer an act of “desperation.”

“This is what desperation looks like. The Maine GOP knows how vulnerable Gov. LePage is with a strong candidate like Congressman Michaud leading the race, which is why they continue to push out one misleading attack after another in an effort to distract from nearly four years of Gov. (Paul) LePage’s failed leadership and embarrassing antics,” Reinholt said in an email. “Voters are tired of this negativity, which is why they are eager to elect a candidate like Mike who has a proven track record of bringing Democrats, Republicans and independents together to strengthen Maine’s economy, create jobs and move Maine forward.”

It’s the second time in as many weeks that a mailer sent out by the Maine Republican party has raised the ire of Michaud’s campaign.

One side of the mailer shows a woman with wide eyes opening a “Bill to Taxpayers.” To the right, there a claim that “each illegal immigrant household costs the U.S. taxpayers $14,387 in government benefits.” Across the bottom reads “Mike Michaud’s failed policies helped create the illegal immigration crisis.” In the lower right corner is a black-and-white-photo of a frowning Michaud. That photo is also on the other side.

The reverse side of the mailer repeats those claims and piles on, saying Michaud failed to secure the border and voted for amnesty and government benefits for illegal immigrants. Across the top shows a photo of vast plain, with mountains in the distance with a scrawny barbed wire fence in the foreground.

“Now, Mike Michaud believes Maine’s cities and town should continue to use your tax dollars to pay welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. This would put Maine taxpayers on the hook for over a million dollars in payments to illegal immigrants and make Maine more attractive to illegal immigrants who can’t get benefits in other states,” the ad states.

It closes with “Maine taxpayers can’t afford Mike Michaud as governor.”

The ad is largely based on Michaud’s support of the 2010 Dream Act, and his opposition to the 2006 Border Security Bill. The former would have granted legal status to hundreds of thousands of immigrant students, while the latter would have toughened enforcement of immigration laws and built a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican Border.

However, the ad goes on to make a questionable claim that an illegal immigrant household costs taxpayers $14,387. That estimate came from the The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that promotes conservative public policies.

In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report about the fiscal impacts of illegal immigrants. It reviewed 29 reports published over 15 years and cautioned:

“Over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use. Generally, such estimates include revenues and spending at the federal, state, and local levels.

“However, many estimates also show that the cost of providing public services to unauthorized immigrants at the state and local levels exceeds what that population pays in state and local taxes. It is important to note, though, that currently available estimates have significant limitations; therefore, using them to determine an aggregate effect across all states would be difficult and prone to considerable error.”

LePage, Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler have already been sparring over immigration issues.

In one of his first acts as governor, LePage signed an executive order to allow state agencies to question a person’s immigration status when seeking state benefits. He is seeking to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving general assistance in the form of vouchers for food, housing and other necessities. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, said the new rule is unconstitutional.

With LePage threatening to withhold all GA reimbursements to communities who do not comply with the new rule, the Maine Municipal Association is seeking clarity in the courts.

Meanwhile, both Cutler and Michaud have expressed support for allowing some undocumented immigrants to continue receiving assistance, particularly those who came to the U.S. on valid visas that have since expired while they are seeking asylum.

LePage made national headlines (and punchlines) when he said Maine couldn’t afford eight unaccompanied children who crossed illegally into the U.S. — likely from Central America — and were placed here by the federal government. That reaction whetted the satirical palette of Comedian Stephen Colbert, who told viewers on his popular “Colbert Report” that: “Folks, I never realized Maine was in such dire financial straits. They’re just one Octomom away from bankruptcy.”

(Note: As of the end of July, the total number of unaccompanied children resettled in Maine was up to 12.)

The post Maine Republican mailers attack Michaud on immigration appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

TV political ad crush imminent; Collins launches statewide tour; 7 stories you need to read

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Political advertisements in the run up to the November election are beginning to blanket the airwaves as local and national groups who have vowed for months to funnel money to Maine are writing checks.

With Labor Day around the corner, the campaigns are about to reach a feverish pace and I’m comfortable making the prediction here and now that more money will be spent in Maine in the congressional and gubernatorial races this year than ever before. It’s a safe and easy prediction for anyone who has been paying attention to politics in recent months.

Competitive races for the Blaine House and the 2nd Congressional District, the mountain of cash Republican Sen. Susan Collins has in her arsenal against Democrat Shenna Bellows and a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that has led to an influx of corporate cash in elections, add up to the fact there will be no escaping exposure to candidates’ messaging. That’s unless you unplug your television, stay off the computer, turn off your radio and stop checking your mail, not that I’m advocating for any of that.

Though I doubt we’ll catch every ad, we’ll keep tabs on advertising and the flow of election funds here at the BDN and State & Capitol. To wit: the Republican Governors Association began airing a television ad Monday in support of LePage’s reelection. It emphasizes some of the governor’s accomplishments in economic development. Titled “Unique,” it tacitly addresses his nontraditional and sometimes brash governing governing style — over which LePage’s opponents have been hammering him over for years — by comparing his outside-of-politics roots to a series of anonymous political caricatures.

Distancing himself from gaffes that have put him in national headlines and enforcing his “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” theme could prove to be key for LePage as he and his opponents try to woo what appears to be a small number of independent voters. Here’s the ad:

RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said Monday that the advertisement is running in the Portland market, as opposed to statewide. Though Thompson would not comment on campaign strategy, targeting southern Maine voters — who as a bloc are generally more liberal — is something we’re likely to see more of from LePage.

On the same day as the release of the RGA ad, the Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund attacked the governor for his environmental record — and celebrated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud’s — in a two-week statewide television ad buy titled “Quality.”

The advertisement, which according to MCVAF director Maureen Drouin will run for two weeks at a cost of some $400,000, criticizes LePage on a number of fronts, including for his veto of a bipartisan bill earlier this year that was designed to protect Maine lakes from pollution. Among other reasons for his veto, the governor called a provision that would have banned the use of fertilizers within 25 feet of great ponds overly onerous to enforce and said it could stunt the growth of plants that help prevent erosion.

LePage’s veto was overturned in the House by a vote of 125-21 but was then killed in the Senate, which sustained the veto 21-14, which was short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto.

During his first term, LePage has often pitted environmental concerns against economic development through his directives for streamlined permitting at DEP, his continued calls for purchasing hydroelectric power from Canada — which comes after decades of efforts to remove dams in Maine — and his support of long-debated large-scale mining rules that the Legislature attempted to order a re-do of through a resolve. LePage’s veto of the attempt to overturn the rules was supported in the House.

The state’s largely pristine natural environment is an area that is important to Maine voters, many of whom live here because of it. There are powerful groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, among others, who will ensure that it remains an election issue.

Collins launches ‘All of Maine’ bus tour

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows completed a 350-mile walk from Houlton to Kittery earlier this month in an attempt to gain traction in her formidable quest to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who according to a recent poll still has commanding cross-party support from 57 percent of voters.

Beginning Tuesday, the Collins campaign will launch a bus tour that by the end of the week will match Bellows’ walk mileage — albeit on a bus — and reach Penobscot, Somerset, Androscoggin, Oxford, York, Cumberland and Sagadahoc Counties. Collins has pledged to visit all of Maine’s 16 counties by election day.

Collins is not taking anything for granted in her reelection bid. Campaign finance reports that at this point are somewhat dated showed that Collins had more than $4 million in cash on hand at the end of June, compared to about $650,000 for Bellows.

Michaud to release food policy plan

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about how Maine can capitalize on its rural resources — and on drought conditions across much of the country — by increasing its agricultural stature.

On Tuesday in Augusta, gubernatorial candidates Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler will discuss their ideas in this area during a gubernatorial forum with the Agriculture Council of Maine. Michaud will unveil a new policy proposal, according to his campaign, which wouldn’t discuss what it includes. The forum, which will feature Michaud and independent candidate Eliot Cutler, is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine on Church Hill Road in Augusta.

LePage spokesman Alex Willette said Monday that LePage had intended to address the group but had to back out because of “state business.” Willette said the campaign will be addressing the group in writing. AGCOM is comprised of 33 agricultural associations, commodity groups and businesses, which together represent about 10,000 Maine people.

Recap: 7 stories you should read

Small business owners balk at minimum wage hike

The Maine Wire -

Advocates for a big increase in the minimum wage say Maine’s poor will benefit, but some Maine small business owners believe the policy will harm the very people it’s supposed to help. Steve DiMillo is the manager of DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant and Marina in Portland. And he’s concerned about Portland Mayor Michael Brennan’s push to […]

RGA ad contrasts “blunt” LePage with “blow-dried” politicians

The Maine Wire -

A new advertisement from the Republican Governors Association (RGA) contrasts Gov. Paul LePage with “blow-dried” politicians. “Some people like their politicians blow dried. Others prefer the cookie cutter model. Or those who always have the perfect sound bite. And then there’s Paul LePage,” a female narrator says as images of LePage and Maine workers flash […]

Maine League of Conservation Voters spends $400k for contrast ad

Press Herald Politics -

As reported here on Friday, the Maine League of Conservation Voters will begin running a television ad contrasting the environmental records of gubernatorial candidates Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The ad buy is significant — over $400,000 — and begins running this week in the Bangor and Portland markets. The 30-second spot slams LePage for proposals to rollback the state’s environmental regulations and for not supporting measures to strengthen water quality and a law designed to phase out chemicals harmful to pregnant women and children. The ad uses dark, sudsy waters and barren landscapes when discussing the governor, while using pristine vistas when mentioning Michaud.

Michaud won the group’s backing in February, one of a string of interest group endorsements racked up by the six-term congressman. LePage did not seek the group’s endorsement and his campaign has rejected its efforts to portray the governor as a champion of smokestacks and polluters. Independent Eliot Cutler, who is not mentioned in the ad, sought LCV’s backing but his campaign later attacked the organization as “another special interest group backing the Democratic Party candidate just like they did in 2010” when he did not receive it.

The Maine LCV has played an active role in recent elections and has increased its spending to help elect Democratic legislative candidates while targeting Republicans deemed as working to undercut environmental regulations. The spending coincides with a similar effort by the local group’s parent organization, which in 2012 combined with other progressive organizations to spend over $1 billion.

“Governor LePage has taken a wrecking ball to our state. Only Mike Michaud can bring Maine people together again to clean up our waters and move us toward a safer, cleaner future,” said Maureen Drouin, Executive Director, MCV Action Fund, in a statement.

The post Maine League of Conservation Voters spends $400k for contrast ad appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Cutler goes on the attack in his second ad

Press Herald Politics -

Independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler has a new TV ad out where he calls out both republican Paul LePage and democrat Mike Michaud for not agreeing to do more debates. It is the first direct TV attack from any of the campaigns. Is his attack legit and will it be effective? Is it realistic to expect any more than the handful of debates that are already scheduled?

Also, the GOP attacks Michaud for a bill he sponsored, but they voted for. The attack rings familiar to Democrats attacking legislators for supporting tax cuts that they also endorsed. Do these attacks serve the public?

We talk with political analysts Phil Harriman and Ethan Strimling about that and other issues in the race for governor.

The post Cutler goes on the attack in his second ad appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Bellows gains traction with Dems after 350-mile walk, but still trails Collins overall

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Shenna Bellows, pictured here in 2013. BDN file photo by Troy Bennett.

Shenna Bellows, the Democratic challenger to Maine’s incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, is picking up traction, at least with Democrats. That’s the result of a recently conducted Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Bellows campaign and shown to the Bangor Daily News on Friday.

The poll, conducted four days after Bellows completed her 350-mile walking campaign from Houlton to Kittery, shows that overall, Bellows still trails Collins by 24 points.

But, it indicated that 64 percent of Democrat respondents said they planned on voting for her. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s 20 points more than Bellows was polling with Democrats in a June poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/UNH, which showed bellows pulling in only about 44 percent of her own party.

Bellows seemingly got a big boost among Democrats as a result of her walk across Maine. 71 percent of Democrats polled said they’d heard about Bellows recently because of the walk, compared with 15 percent who saw a TV ad and 14 percent who chose “other.”

Growth among Democrats is undoubtedly a good thing for Bellows. If she’s going to pull off an upset victory of Collins — the most universally popular politician in the state and the favored winner by a long shot — she’ll definitely need her party’s support.

But she’ll also need to pull in a lot of unenrolled voters. The campaign didn’t release figures indicating how Bellows fared with nonpartisan voters, but that groups makes up 37 percent of all registered voters in the state, and the PPH/UNH poll had 81 percent of them going for Collins. That poll was conducted two months earlier though, so that figure may have changed, even if only slightly.

The PPP poll, conducted with pre-recorded questionnaires August 16-18, surveyed 679 likely Maine voters, among which were 258 Democrats. The survey was conducted via landline telephones across the state, and was weighted for age and gender. The margin of error for the poll was 3.8 percent; the margin of error among in th Democratic subset is 6.1 percent.

Maine Conservation Voters PAC enters governors race

Press Herald Politics -

One of the state’s leading environmental groups is jumping into the gubernatorial contest with television ads.

The political action committee for Maine Conservation Voters will begin running a television spot next week supporting Democrat Mike Michaud and opposing Republican Gov. Paul LePage, according to files posted by the Federal Communications Commission. The size of the buy is not yet clear, but a lobbyist for the organization confirmed that the ad was forthcoming. Maureen Drouin, a spokeswoman for the league, would not discuss details of the ad.

The group is one of several expected to pepper the airwaves during the race for the Blaine House. Campaign finance watchdogs have predicted that ads and spending by outside groups will likely dwarf the money spent by the individual campaign committees. The Maine Conservation Action PAC has a history of getting involved in legislative races and targeting candidates who have made its so-called “dirty dozen” list. In 2012, the group’s PAC spent over $70,000, including over $50,000 on independent expenditures that attempted to influence legislative contests.

The PAC has more firepower this time, thanks to large contributions from aligned progressive PACs and donors, and in particular, a $250,000 contribution from the treasury of its parent organization, the League of Conservation Voters. The Maine PAC has taken in over $400,000 through July 31.

The League’s federal PAC spent over $2.2 million on congressional races in 2012. The organization and its aligned super PAC have already spent nearly $5 million during this year’s mid-term contests. The nonprofit organization listed nearly $37 million in gross receipts, according to its 2012 tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service.

Below is a spreadsheet of the donors to the Maine Conservation Voters PAC.

The post Maine Conservation Voters PAC enters governors race appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Court ruling means formerly maxed-out donors could add $526,500 to Cutler’s coffers

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

A court ruling issued Friday will allow Independent Eliot Cutler’s campaign to double up on contributions from individual supporters.

That’s a proposition worth at least $526,500 to his campaign, based on the about 351 contributors who had maxed out their support for the candidate, at a previous $1,500 limit, by a July 15 filing deadline.

The gist of the decision: Maine District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby ruled that allowing Democrat Mike Michaud and Republican Paul LePage to raise money for both a primary and general election put Cutler at a disadvantage, since neither party candidate had to fend off primary challengers.

(For more background on the decision, read Mario Moretto’s story.)

In a quick look at what that means for the Cutler campaign, here’s a view breaking out segments of each campaign’s fundraising from individual donors, up to July 15.

There’s a few things going on this view, so let me explain first.

The orange bars represent contributors who have given over $1,500 to a campaign. Cutler, being so far limited by that amount, has no contributions in that range.

The thin blue bar represents the amount of contributions from individuals giving exactly $1,500. For Cutler, that’s where the new potential lies after the Tuesday decision (and there may be more potential there from donors through August).

The wider blue bar represents donors that have given less than $1,500, rounding out the rest of the individual contributions taken in by each campaign.

Find a look at each campaign’s total fundraising through the July 15 deadline here.

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