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Why is Michelle Obama coming to Maine?

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

First Lady Michelle Obama

Today the Michaud campaign announced that First Lady Michelle Obama is coming to the University of Maine. Tickets are free, but an RSVP is required.

This is a guest that’s likely to bring a lot of students and community members to the campaign event and to generate a lot of local media.

It will help Democrats identify supporters, who they can mobilize to volunteer on the campaign, as well as to register to vote and to cast their ballots.

(Meanwhile, LePage looks weak by refusing to debate Mike Michaud.)

The event can be effective for one basic reason: Michelle Obama is quite popular.

Take a look at these approval ratings from Gallup:

66% approval is down from her height of 72% but it is far above most political figures.

(It is, however, in striking distance from the 58% favorable rating enjoyed by Mike Michaud, which is 12 percentage points above the 46% favorability for Eliot Cutler and 15 percentage points above the 43% favorability of Paul LePage.)

Big numbers among some groups

In addition, per Gallup, Michelle Obama’s approval rating is especially strong among women.

While it is extraordinarily high among Democrats, Independents also strongly approve of the First Lady.

A recent article in the Wall St. Journal noted Michelle Obama’s popularity and her time on the 2014 campaign trail.

As First Lady, she has a different profile than someone in political office.

Jim Demers, a lobbyist who served as co-chairman of the Obama campaign in New Hampshire in 2008, said that with voters frustrated with elected officials in Washington, the first lady is an appealing and relatable alternative.

“She just tells a different story, because she’s not a politician and she’s not an elected official,” he said. [source]

Endorsements tend to have a limited effect on votes. However, holding an event on a campus outside of the Portland orbit, with an exciting, popular speaker, provides an opportunity to reach certain groups of voters and to connect with them.

As reporter Rebecca Metzler wrote today, in Maine’s gubernatorial campaign, “women are at the center of the action.”

Most voters in Maine are women and women tend to vote Democratic. They spend more time than men taking care of children and elders. Policy-wise, women are aligned with Democrats on government’s role in health care, education and support for the needy.

This visit solidifies that policy and electoral connection.

Cutler, LePage and Michaud vie for women voters

Rebekah Metzler -

Want to know where ground zero is in the Maine gubernatorial race? Women voters. As headlines get filled with polling results and squabbles about who will debate when, the real trench warfare is occurring elsewhere.

Independent Eliot Cutler, trailing the race in third place, has tried to put a dent in Democrat Mike Michaud’s support by reminding voters of Michaud’s past pro-life position.

Michaud, meanwhile, has landed the support of Planned Parenthood and just announced a rally alongside first lady Michelle Obama and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards Oct. 3.

And Republican Gov. Paul LePage, frequently flanked by his wife, Ann, at public appearances, has played up his efforts to combat domestic violence this campaign cycle with his vocal critiques of how the NFL has handled the Ray Rice ordeal. On Friday, he sent a second letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the issue, calling on the creation coalition between governors and league owners to address the violence.

“Men must step up to end domestic violence, and NFL players are prominent role models who can turn the national spotlight on this reprehensible crime,” LePage said in his Sept. 19 letter, according to a report by NECN.

Recent polls have shown Michaud and LePage slugging it out at the top, with a polling average by RealClearPolitics.com putting Michaud at 41 percent support compared to LePage’s 39 percent. Cutler averages about 13 percent.

The tight margin between LePage and Michaud means the two camps are likely furiously drilling down to find out which voters remain undecided or “soft” in their support – and based on the signals they’ve been sending in recent days – it appears women are at the center of the action.

LePage threatens to pull out of all debates because PAC ad accurately quotes his press release

Dirigo Blue -

Paul Merrill of WMTW-TV in Portland reports today that Gov. Paul LePage says he may not attend political debates because of Democratic Party challenger Rep. Mike Michaud did not denounce an opposing television ad. The ad, sponsored by the PAC Maine Forward, a coalition of liberal groups, accurately quotes a press release issued by the Governor’s office on 25 June 2014.

This threat follows LePage pulling out of a speaking engagement two weeks ago, and his pulling out of debates during the 2010 campaign, as his handlers realized the need to limit his appearances before cameras.

Here is the ad:

The press release reads, in part:

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) claims the other five New England states saw higher personal income growth than Maine, but that growth was driven by an increase in welfare benefits, especially in the form of Medicaid expansion. The BEA conceals welfare benefits by calling them “Personal Current Transfer Receipts.”

These “Transfer Receipts” include: Social Security benefits; Medicare payments; Medicaid; and state unemployment insurance benefits.

In addition to counting welfare benefits as personal income, the BEA includes another category called “all other personal current transfer receipts.” These are the health insurance premium subsidies paid as tax credits to enrollees of the Obamacare exchanges.

“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” said Governor LePage. “Liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth—taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients—is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”

VIDEO: People’s Climate March Protests Capitalism as Marchers Trash NYC

The Maine Wire -

In case you missed it, thousands of climate change activists gathered in New York City over the weekend to protest global warming, corporations, capitalism, and, well, just about everything. Reason Magazine’s Kmele Foster took a camera to the march to interview participants about their views on climate change and potential solutions. The folks Foster interviews […]

Michelle Obama to stump for Michaud in Orono

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. Reuters and BDN file photos.

First Lady Michelle Obama will make a campaign appearance with Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in Orono on Oct. 3, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.

Obama and Michaud will be joined by Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards, whose PAC endorsed Michaud in August. Richards was scheduled to highlight Michaud’s record on women’s issues at a rally in late August, but that rally was postponed.

David Farmer, communications director for Michaud’s campaign, said the Oct. 3 rally will be “more general” in nature than the postponed Richards event.

“It’s a great opportunity to excite people in the Orono-Bangor area, and to hopefully get students at the university engaged in the election,” Farmer said.

The exact time of the rally at UMaine is yet to be determined. Farmer said attendance is free, but guests must RSVP on Michaud’s campaign website because of Secret Service security requirements associated with the first lady.

The next peek at campaign finance, and 7 stories you need to read

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

It’s all about the Benjamins, baby. Creative Commons photo.

Tomorrow is the filing deadline for the most recent campaign finance period for all state political candidates, from governor all the way down to county commissioners and district attorneys.

The deadline marks 42 days before the general election on Nov. 4, and the reports will detail the campaign fundraising and spending between July 15 and Sept. 16. Most attention will be paid, obviously, to the three Blaine House candidates, whose races will cost much, much more than the others.

Last week, Eliot Cutler attempted to get a jump on the news cycle by releasing a sketch of his fundraising total for the two-month period: About $500,000 (including a $100,000 loan from Cutler himself). A half a million dollars is clearly nothing to sneeze at, but tomorrow we’ll get additional details such as available cash and total expenditures that will put Cutler’s campaign, and the others, in context.

In the last reporting period (read the story here), Democratic candidate and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud was leading the pack in fundraising from individuals  with $267,000, followed by Cutler with $176,000 and incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage with $158,000. But Cutler led total fundraising, thanks to a $588,000 cash infusion from his own private coffers.

Check out the great visual breakdown of the candidates’ financial reports by our resident campaign finance guru, Darren “Charts” Fishell, for more info.

As we get closer to election day, and the candidates spend more and more on airtime, mailers and piles of take-out pizza to feed hungry volunteers, the numbers will climb and climb — to say nothing of the millions being spent by independent groups.

Campaigns often wait until the last possible minute to file their reports. They’ve got until midnight tomorrow to submit their paperwork to the Maine Ethics Commission. We’ll have a roundup for you not long after.

In the meantime, here’s 7 stories from last week to keep you busy:

When protecting means cutting: 2nd District hopefuls spar on programs for seniors

Press Herald Politics -

Republican 2nd Congressional District hopeful Bruce Poliquin released a television ad Monday about Social Security and Medicare that’s perhaps most notable for its indirect language.

In it, the candidate says over soft music that Social Security, the federal program administering retirement benefits, and Medicare, the national health care program for the elderly, must simply be “protected and strengthened,” citing family anecdotes.


Post by Bruce Poliquin.

This is a message that’s likely poll-tested, and it’s appropriate for the 2nd District, the oldest district in Maine, the nation’s oldest state. Nearly 10 percent of 2nd District residents are over the Medicare-qualifying age of 65, compared to 8.5 percent in the state’s other district, according to Census data. In the 2nd District, 110,000 seniors benefit from Social Security, more than in the 1st District.

But the ad was criticized by Poliquin’s Democratic opponent, Emily Cain. In the ad, Poliquin doesn’t mention a crucial element of his plan: When he says he wants to “protect” the federal programs, he’s really suggesting cutting them.

Earlier this year, he told our newspapers that the two programs are unsustainable in their current states and must be reformed. He has suggested raising the retirement age for future beneficiaries to account for people living longer, as well as means-testing Social Security so richer recipients receive less of a benefit.

He’s right on one account: If changes aren’t made, the programs are marching toward insolvency. The main part of Medicare is now projected to run out of money in 2030, while Social Security is expected to become insolvent shortly after that. But the two parties differ largely on ways to fix that — Democrats want to spend; Republicans want to cut.

Poliquin has suggested raising the retirement age for both programs, along with means-testing Social Security so richer recipients get a lower benefit. Now, the system only taxes up to $117,000 of a person’s earnings. Cain would prefer to raise that cap so more money flows into Social Security.

In the fight to define differences between the two candidates, Cain’s campaign released a statement on Monday saying that Poliquin is “willing to mislead voters about his own record to get elected.” They noted Poliquin’s stated support for the budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would change Medicare in ways that the AARP has said would shift costs onto seniors.

But Poliquin’s ad isn’t false, it’s just indirect. Republicans think saving these programs requires cutting them, while Democrats think more money is needed. The fight is rhetorical, and it’ll be a large bone of contention between now and November.

Maine Dems: Welfare reform got “green light” from Democratic senator

The Maine Wire -

The Maine Democratic Party is issuing mailers on behalf of a Democratic state senator from Androscoggin County. The mailers tout a record on welfare reform that doesn’t exist and attack the Republican candidate using sources that also do not exist. According to Maine campaign finance records, the Maine Democratic Party has spent more than $10,000 […]

Republican contrast ads highlight welfare, Social Security

Press Herald Politics -

National and state Republicans are ratcheting up their attacks against Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who appears to maintaining a small lead over Republican Gov. Paul LePage in a three-way race to become Maine’s next governor.

Meanwhile, other interest groups are also stepping up their mail campaigns.

At the tip of the spear is a new television ad by the Republican Governors Association. The 30-second spot hits Michaud on immigration, claiming the six term congressman “would allow cities and towns to give (welfare) benefits to illegal immigrants.”

That claim is an over-reach, but appears to be effective in moving people into LePage’s column.

Michaud has said he disagrees with LePage’s effort to prohibit giving general assistance to undocumented immigrants. In most cases, these immigrants are here legally, after having fled in fear from their home countries, while their applications seeking asylum are pending before immigration officials. It can take years for the asylum process to play out. These undocumented immigrants cannot work for 150 days after filing their application, so rely on GA for support until they can enter the workforce.

Immigration advocates have decried the attack, which also claims “illegal immigrants” cost the state $1 million and turn the state into a “welfare destination.” One liberal activist group, the Maine People’s Alliance concede the attack is working in eroding Michaud’s support a conclusion apparently reached through their door-knocking campaign.

The new RGA ad, called “Trust,” only spends 10 second critiqueing Michaud. The female narrator attacking Michaud over an ominous piano riff, gives way to a male narrator touting LePage’s record on welfare reform: Instituting a five-year cap on welfare benefits, targeting fraud and abuse, and recovering more than $2 million over-payments.

Maine Republicans also hit Michaud in a new mailing. They’re looking gain support from seniors by highlighting Michaud’s support for the Affordable Care Act, perhaps better known as Obamacare.

The mailer claims that “cutting medicare by $716 billion hurting Maine seniors.” The AARP says the Medicare cuts should not result in a loss of benefits, though some are skeptical of that. The mailer also hits Michaud for a 1999 vote to tax some Social Security benefits.

Meanwhile, the mailer also promotes LePage’s senior policies, saying he cut taxes for seniors and paid back the hospitals. The mailer prominently displays a quote from LePage, after a press release from his office seemed to categorize Social Security welfare, a sentiment he has repeatedly denied.

Michaud on Sept. 4 received the endorsement of the National Committee on Preserving Social Security and Medicare, a Washington, D.C.-based group with 15,000 members in Maine. The group normally endorses only candidates for Congress, since the federal government has jurisdiction over benefits program. 

In other mailer news, NextGen Climate Maine — a group backed by billionare Tom Steyer — sent their first direct mail to so-called climate voters, contrasting Michaud and LePage’s positions and records on climate change, energy and jobs. For more about this effort, check out my colleague Steve Mistler’s reports (1) and (2).

Planned Parenthood and the Maine Education Association are also continuing their mail campaigns in support of Michaud.

None of the ads mention independent Eliot Cutler, who is trailing in a distant third place.

Clinton, Alinsky letters revealed

The Maine Wire -

The Washington Free Beacon has unearthed never-before-seen correspondence between the late left-wing radical Saul Alinsky and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, a front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. “Previously unpublished correspondence between Hillary Clinton and the late left-wing organizer Saul Alinsky reveal new details about her relationship with the controversial Chicago activist and shed […]

GOP State Senate candidate endorses slavery column

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Rep. Amy Volk – Seth Koenig | BDN

Ray Richardson, a conservative radio host and advisor to Governor Paul LePage, received some national attention late last week for his comments equating public assistance to slavery and groups that advocate for the poor, including the NAACP and the Catholic Church, with slaveholders.

“To equate the inhumane and genocidal system of slavery, based on human bondage, human chattel, and the legacy of racism that still persists today to a system that provides help to Maine people and families shows a horrific ignorance, not just about the history of this country, but of systems that provide well-being to disadvantaged individuals and families,” said Rachel Talbot Ross, President of Portland Branch of the NAACP, in response to Richardson’s commentary.

Apparently, Richardson isn’t the only Maine conservative who holds these views. Republican Representative Amy Volk shared and endorsed the Portland Daily Sun column where Richardson leveled the charges, posting a link to the column on her campaign Facebook page and writing “I agree with most of Ray’s column here, except that the members of these organizations despise the people they are claiming to be helping.”

Volk did not disagree with or even mention the general comparisons the column made with with slavery or Richardson’s specific claim that “Democrats have sought to enslave the poor to the new plantation.”

Post from Rep. Amy Volk’s campaign Facebook page

Volk currently represents part of Scarborough in the House and is running in one of the state’s most competitive State Senate races against Democratic incumbent Jim Boyle.

Six takeaways from Cutler’s leaked internal poll

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Eliot Cutler

Eliot Cutler’s campaign has leaked a poll showing that Michaud and LePage are tied at 35%, with Cutler at 19%.

Click here to see the full poll for yourself. A news story about the poll, with comments from the campaigns, can be read here.

Now, internal polls should always be taken with a massive grain of salt. (Are grains of salt ever massive? Maybe that isn’t the best metaphor here.)

In any case, internal polls are never leaked unless a candidate’s campaign thinks they will be politically helpful. The public never gets to see the ones that the campaign deems unhelpful.

For the sake of argument, let’s take this one seriously and focus on what, if it’s accurate, it shows and doesn’t show about the race.

1. Michaud is the only gubernatorial candidate a majority sees favorably.

From “Cutler camp says internal poll shows surge building for independent in Maine governor’s race,” Scott Thistle, Lewiston Sun-Journal, Sept. 19, 2014.

Cutler is in a decent position on his favorability rating, as it’s more positive (46%) than negative (37%). But he is second place on that metric and majority don’t see him positively.

Rep. Michaud’s high favorability rating (58%) explains why the Maine GOP falsely claimed the congressman’s campaign put out a video with crude rap lyrics about Sen. Collins. Republicans really want to pull down Michaud’s positive image.

Sen. Collins’ extremely high favorabilities — the best in the state — shows that the Michaud campaign would have to be the most incompetent people in Maine politics ever if it had put out that video (which it didn’t).

By the way, did anyone else notice that neither Collins nor her campaign weighed in on the video? But I digress.

2. LePage is the only candidate a majority see unfavorably.

Not only do 54% of Mainers see Gov. LePage unfavorably, the poll report notes that includes “an extremely high 45% ‘very unfavorable.’”

Normally an incumbent with a 54% unfavorable rating would be expected to lose.

That very high negative image, especially with the 45% seeing LePage very unfavorably, defines a key dynamic of the race.

Gov. LePage only has a chance of winning if the 54% who see him unfavorably are split or, for some reason, don’t vote.

So how split are the not-LePage voters?

3. Only 6% say LePage is their second choice.

With 35% of the vote, Gov. LePage is very close to his ceiling.

In contrast, Michaud has 19% — three times as much as LePage — who see him as their second choice. The poll doesn’t show who those 19% support now, although one would think there’s significant overlap between that 19% and the 19% who have Cutler as their preferred candidate.

Cutler, in third place, has the highest percentage of people who see him as their second choice (54%). This is a data point the Cutler campaign touts. However, the helpfulness of this for attracting those second choice voters is undermined by the overall shape of the race.

4. Michaud and LePage are tied, with Cutler far behind. 

Regarding the poll positions of Michaud and LePage, this poll is a lot like the last three public polls, which had Michaud ahead of LePage by 4 points and 1 point and behind by one point.

Cutler is doing better in this poll, with 19% compared to 10%, 11% and 15%. But he’s still way back in third place with the top two candidates tied.

5. Cutler’s campaign says the poll shows that he has momentum, but they haven’t provided evidence showing that.

Now, you say, how could that be? You just said that the last three public polls had Cutler at 10%, 11% and 15% and now he’s at 19%.

We have no idea what this pollster showed previously and if it also presented “likely voters” as defined by the same methodology. What was its sample size and margin of error? (This poll has 400 individuals and a margin of error of 4.9%.) Without such information, one can’t say there was movement for Cutler.

It could be that, in their data, Sen. King’s endorsement made a difference. King has strong favorables in the poll, between Collins’ and Michaud’s. However, we don’t have any earlier internal data.

And, in any case, with a majority of voters seeing LePage unfavorably, these numbers do not give those not-LePage voters a reason, by itself, to back Cutler over Michaud.

6. The poll leaves out a key match-up — between Michaud and LePage.

One piece of data presented is the choice between Cutler and LePage. If this were to happen, Cutler would get 50%, while 40% would choose LePage, with 10% undecided.

Yet the pollster didn’t ask about what the race would look like without Cutler.

This suggests the Cutler campaign didn’t want this asked because they didn’t want to take the chance that it would show that Michaud would do better than Cutler in a two person race with LePage. Leaving it out doesn’t exactly show confidence that they think Cutler is the stronger in a two-person matchup.


In any case, this is just one more poll. As I always say, never pay too much attention to a single poll. To understand campaign dynamics, the trend is your friend.

You can follow Pollways on Facebook.

What their campaign contribution history tells us about Cutler’s GOP supporters

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

The five people touted as GOP faithfuls who endorsed Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler Friday have together donated about equal amounts to other Independent candidates and Republican candidates for state office in the past 10 years.

One of the people who endorsed Cutler Friday gave money this year to the incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage and none had donated to Democratic candidate Mike Michaud.

The figures come from a search through campaign finance records in a database maintained by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which upgraded its database and collection methods this year.

The records show four of the five people who endorsed Cutler Friday have donated to state-level political campaigns in the past 10 years, giving a collective $2,475 to Republican candidates and about $2,150 to Independent candidates, not including Cutler.

Two of the new endorsers — Steve DiMillo and Robert Hews — have given $1,500 to Cutler for his 2014 campaign and Hews is, by far, the most active donor of the group, having donated to Democrats as late as 2000. Hews also donated $500 to Gov. LePage’s campaign this year and $750 to Republican congressional hopeful Kevin Raye, who lost his party’s primary to run for Mike Michaud’s House seat in Maine’s 2nd District.

DiMillo, owner of a restaurant and marina on Portland’s waterfront and a yacht dealership and brokerage, has given to Republican Legislative races in the past, but has already put down significantly more money behind Cutler, donating $1,500 so far in this election.

Moser, whose namesake Auburn-based company makes high-end wood furniture, has a solid streak of contributions to Independent candidates, contributing to Independent Sen. Angus King’s gubernatorial campaigns in the late 1990s and Independent David Flanagan’s gubernatorial campaign in 2002.

Hews and Moser both have donated to candidates personally and through their companies. Those donations are all grouped together under one name in the views above.

Bri Warner, a former diplomat and founder of Portland Pie Line, was the only member of the group with no history of political contributions.

Republican business owners back Cutler in governor’s race

Press Herald Politics -

Steve DiMillo, who manages the iconic floating restaurant in Portland that bears his last name, said he expects to be criticized by his Republican friends.

“I’m sure they will say to me ‘How can you go against the party?’ said DiMillo, a longtime Republican. “I’m just voting for the best candidate.”

DiMillo joined four other Republican business owners at an event Friday in Portland during which they pledged support for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. With DiMillo were Tom Mosher, who founded Thos Moser Cabinetmakers, a high-end furniture company that employs 130 people; Jolene Lovejoy, a former Republican lawmaker from Rumford; Brianna Warner, a former State Department employee who owns and operates The Pie Line in Portland; and Bob Hews, who with his brother runs Hews Company, a South Portland-based builder of truck bodies and truck equipment.

Despite a loaded campaign calendar, a recent endorsement by U.S. Sen. Angus King and a couple good months of fundraising, Cutler has not shown any movement in public polls. He still trails well behind Michaud and LePage, who appear locked in a close race.

But Cutler called the recent polls, “bogus, cooked-up and self-serving,” and said his support is ahead of where it was in 2010, when he finished a close second to LePage.

Cutler indeed needs a late surge of support to be a contender in this race, and he’ll need to draw big from Republicans and Democrats to overtake both LePage or Michaud on Election Day.

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in June suggested that Cutler does better than Michaud with Republican voters, but LePage is still likely to receive at least 75 percent support from members of his party.

The Maine Republican Party has often drawn attention to Cutler during this year’s campaign in an effort to simultaneously weaken Michaud. LePage’s best path to victory is having Michaud and Cutler split votes.

Maine AFL-CIO launches campaign in support of Mike Michaud

Press Herald Politics -

A federation of 160 local unions on Thursday announced the kick-off of its direct mail campaign in support of Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud for governor.

The Maine AFL-CIO said in a press release that its campaign would be “aggressive and comprehensive” to ensure that Michaud wins in November against independent Eliot Cutler and Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has pushed policies that would weaken unions.

“Mike Michaud is a champion for working people. Instead of division and embarrassment, he’ll bring a laser focus on creating jobs, raising wages and supporting Maine’s hardworking people,” said Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO.

The union says it represents 42,000 workers, ranging from teachers to shipbuilders. The mailers will target AFL-CIO members and their families, reaching over 12,000 households, and are part of a series of mailers that will highlight contrasts between Michaud and LePage. As such, it is considered a member communication, Schlobohm said.

Courtesy of Maine AFL-CIO

One mailer is strictly biographical, featuring several photos of Michaud throughout his life — as a child, with his siblings, his early career as a state legislator and modern campaign photos. While the Great Northern Paper Mill in East Millinocket, where Michaud worked for 29 years, is featured in the mailer, there is no shot of Michaud wearing a hard hat.

The second mailer features a blue-collar worker, wearing a white t-shirt and dirty reflective safety vest, and a time clock.


Courtesy of Maine AFL-CIO

The messaging on both mailers is consistent: Michaud, who pumped gas as a teenager before working in the mill, has “working-class values” and is the candidate who will work for Maine families, bring manufacturing back and retrain the workforce.

While these mailers are being sent to union members, the Maine AFL-CIO does have a political action committee to make expenditures aimed at the broader electorate.

As of July 15, the Maine AFL-CIO Committee on Public Education PAC had $39,770 in cash on-hand. New finance reports are expected to be released next week. The PAC does not appear to have been active in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

Michaud, who served as the vice president of the United Paperworkers International Union Local 152 while in the mill, is still a member of the United Steelworkers of America, which has already donated $300,000 to the Maine Democratic Party.



Chicago abandons plan to name high school after Obama

The Maine Wire -

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, has abandoned plans to name a new high school after his old boss. The short-lived Barack Obama College Preparatory High School, which is slated to open in the fall of 2017, will now go by a different name, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Over the […]

HHS docs detail “high risk” security problems with HealthCare.gov

The Maine Wire -

The Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Judicial Watch has uncovered documents showing that senior officials with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) were seriously concerned with the security of HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s online portal, in the weeks prior to its disastrous launch. The documents were obtained, according to Judicial Watch, pursuant to […]

Radio host claims immigrant rights groups seek to “enslave the poor to the new plantation.”

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Ray Richardson | Facebook/WLOB

Maine NAACP leaders today strongly criticized conservative radio host  Ray Richardson for comparing public assistance programs to slavery and groups working on poverty and immigration issues to plantation owners.

In a recent column for the Portland Daily Sun, Richardson attacked organizations including the NAACP, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine Equal Justice Partners, the Maine People’s Alliance (for which I work) and others which participated in a conference call on immigration issues (that was surreptitiously recorded by an employee of the Maine Heritage Policy Center), calling them “profiteers of poverty” and comparing their actions to those of southern slaveholders.

They are worried that their gravy train may run out and their tool, the poor in Maine, will not be available to them to exploit.

In the old South, southern Democrats enslaved black people to the plantation because they thought they were inferior and they could therefore be used for cheap labor. In modern times, northern Democrats have sought to enslave the poor to the new plantation, our social welfare system. They have done this because they think they are inferior and incapable because they are poor and therefore they could be exploited for political purposes.

“To equate the inhumane and genocidal system of slavery, based on human bondage, human chattel, and the legacy of racism that still persists today to a system that provides help to Maine people and families shows a horrific ignorance, not just about the history of this country, but of systems that provide well-being to disadvantaged individuals and families,” said Rachel Talbot Ross, President of Portland Branch of the NAACP, in response to Richardson’s column.

Ray Richardson and Governor Paul LePage | Facebook/WLOB

In addition to hosting a daily radio show on WLOB, Richardson is also a prominent supporter of and close advisor to Republican Governor Paul LePage. Richardson has hosted Tea Party rallies in support of LePage and has even broadcast his show from the governor’s office. According to Richardson, his influence with the governor resulted in the administration’s focus on debt payments to Maine hospitals, an issue that’s now a important part of LePage’s re-election messaging.

Last month Richardson published a book on the LePage administration that Governor LePage and the Maine GOP have both heavily promoted.

This is not the first time this year that a conservative leader has compared public assistance with slavery. In January, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in North Carolina made national news when he argued that food stamps were “slavery” and should be eliminated.

In April, anti-government rancher and erstwhile conservative cause célèbre Cliven Bundy lost much of his public support when he went on a racist rant in which he wondered if black people might be better off under slavery than “under a government subsidy.”

According to Maine NAACP leaders, Richardson’s words are evidence that Maine and the nation still have a long way to go in understanding issues of both race and poverty.

“[This column] is testimony to an ignorance about history and a willingness to promote this racist construction,” said Talbot Ross. “This isn’t about politics, it’s about basic humanity and the well-being of our fellow human beings.”



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