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‘Fed up’ Richardson rejects Poliquin call to quit congressional campaign

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Democrat Emily Cain and independent Blaine Richardson, who are two of the three candidates running for Maine’s open 2nd Congressional District seat, held a joint press conference on Thursday, July 31, 2014, at the State House, during which they called on Republican Bruce Poliquin to participate with them in political debates. BDN photo by Christopher Cousins

Blaine Richardson, a staunch conservative who left the Republican Party in order to run as an independent for the 2nd Congressional District seat, said Friday that he has rejected a request from Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin to drop out.

Richardson said, and a Poliquin spokesman confirmed, that Poliquin made the request to Richardson in a phone call Thursday night.

“If brother Bruce spent as much time worrying about his campaign as he spends worrying about me, he wouldn’t have much to worry about,” said Richardson. “I just find it incredible that a party candidate feels threatened by an independent.”

Richardson and Poliquin, the former state treasurer who has run and lost in bids for the U.S. Senate and governor’s office, are campaigning against Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain for the seat, which is being left open by Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for governor.

Poliquin spokesman Matt Hutson said Poliquin made the call to Richardson after being asked to do so by former Richardson supporters who worry that the two conservatives will split the vote and send Cain to Congress.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, in June. BDN file photo by Brian Feulner

“It worries us that [Maine could have] someone like Emily Cain, an extreme liberal, representing us in Congress,” said Hutson. “Many former Richardson supporters who know he has no chance of winning the election asked Bruce to simply talk to Blaine about the future of Maine and the country. … Blaine seemed more interested in working with Emily Cain to bash Bruce rather than have a discussion about the future.”

Richardson, a retired Navy pilot who now works as a tradesman, said he has a chance of winning, citing the fact that he garnered 34 percent of the vote in a 2nd Congressional District primary in 2012 against former Maine Senate President Kevin Raye. He added that Poliquin drawing attention to his candidacy by asking him to pull out could be one of the biggest boosts his current campaign has seen.

“I got thousands of votes against Kevin and I was a complete unknown four months before that primary,” said Richardson. “I don’t care what either of these two candidates do. I’ve got my message and my message hasn’t changed. I’m staying in the race. I’m so fed up with the parties, both of them.”

This isn’t the first time in recent months that Poliquin has singled Richardson out. Poliquin said earlier this summer that he would not participate in any campaign debate with Richardson. That prompted Cain and Richardson to hold a joint press conference at the State House in late July where they said they would not participate in any debate to which all three candidates were not invited.

Hutson said Poliquin has committed to two debates and that talks are underway to schedule more. Cain could not be reached Friday evening for comment.

LePage camp praises NFL commissioner for about-face on domestic violence

Gov. Paul LePage, left, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. BDN and USA Today file photos.

Earlier this month, Gov. Paul LePage sent a scathing letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, urging him to impose stricter penalties against players or team personnel accused of domestic violence. LePage’s letter was among a national outcry against Goodell for what was perceived as a too-lenient stance.

LePage’s letter came after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted on domestic violence charges stemming from a videotaped incident with his then-fiance in February, for which the NFL gave Rice a two-game suspension. Goodell announced Thursday that effective immediately, any NFL employee or player who is found to have engaged in assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will be suspended without pay for six games, according to a New York Times article. A second offense will lead to suspension from the league for a year or more.

LePage campaign spokesman Alex Willette said Friday that LePage was pleased with Goodell’s decision but that it doesn’t go far enough.

“The governor takes domestic violence very seriously and this is definitely a move in the right direction,” said Willette. “The reality is that domestic violence needs to have zero tolerance in society as a while, especially in the NFL where these folks are held up as role models to many people.”

In phone call, Poliquin asks Richardson to drop out of Maine’s 2nd District race

Press Herald Politics -

Blaine Richardson, an independent candidate in the 2nd Congressional District race, got a call from Republican opponent Bruce Poliquin late Thursday asking him to drop out.

Richardson posted an account of the exchange on his personal Facebook page. In an interview Friday, Richardson said Poliquin called him at 9:30 p.m. Thursday with “a sense of frustration in his voice,” asking him to withdraw, which the candidate said he won’t do.

“Really, he’s concerned,” Richardson said of Poliquin. “His point of view was that I’m going to be a really bad guy if Emily wins by one vote.” Emily would be Emily Cain, the state senator and Democratic candidate in the race.

Poliquin’s call can be seen as an acknowledgement of the race’s political calculus: Some have said Richardson’s involvement could hurt Poliquin and give an edge to Cain in the battle to replace U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat running for governor.

Ever since Richardson, a conservative independent from Belfast, announced his run in January, observers have said his presence on the ballot would hurt the Republican candidate in the race. In a surprise finish, he won more than a third of the votes in a district Republican primary in 2012.

In a statement, Poliquin campaign manager Matthew Hutson confirmed that Poliquin made the call, saying “former Richardson supporters who know he has no chance of winning the election” asked him to speak to the candidate about the race. Poliquin “asked Blaine to join them and support him instead of working with Emily Cain,” he said.

However, “Blaine seemed more interested in working with Emily Cain to bash Bruce rather than have a discussion on the future,” according to Hutson.

Before Poliquin’s call, Maine Republicans dismissed the possibility that he will be a factor in this race. He wasn’t included in the only public poll of the race so far, commissioned by the Portland Press Herald in June, but less than 1 percent of respondents said that they would vote for someone other than Cain or Poliquin.

Richardson said Poliquin should be more concerned with his own campaign than asking him to leave the race.

“I’m not worried about the other candidates,” Richardson said. “I’m worried about how I’m going to get my message out.”

The post In phone call, Poliquin asks Richardson to drop out of Maine’s 2nd District race appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Michaud moves rally with Bill Clinton to larger venue after being flooded with ticket requests

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor has moved a rally with former President Bill Clinton to a larger venue. When the Democrat’s campaign announced Clinton’s visit earlier this week, the 750 available slots were claimed within three hours.

Tuesday’s event has been moved from the Portland waterfront to the Portland Exposition Building on Park Avenue, where according to Michaud spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt, at least 1,500 people are expected.

“There are so many people who want to rally with Mike and President Clinton for real change and a return to civility in Augusta that we decided to move to a larger facility,” said Reinholt in a written statement. “We want to make sure every Mainer who wants to attend this event is able to come and learn why Mike is the best candidate to lead Maine and bring Democrats, Republicans and independents together to strengthen Maine’s economy and create jobs.”

 

 

 

Michaud ad touts support for American manufacturing

Press Herald Politics -

The gubernatorial campaign for Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud on Thursday released a new television ad that will run throughout the state, highlighting the six-term congressman’s work in requiring the U.S. military to purchase athletic footwear that is made in the U.S.

The 30-second spot opens with an American flag rippling in the breeze in front of what appears to be Bug Light, a small South Portland lighthouse. Over soft acoustic music, Raye Wentworth, who is the factory manager for New Balance but is only identified as “Norridgewock plant manager,” speakers to someone who is off camera. The commercial uses images of factory workers making shoes and talking to the candidate, who is wearing safety glasses and ear plugs.

“One of the things that you would think is made here in America would be our military uniforms,” she says. “But our tax dollars have been paying for shoes made in foreign countries. Mike Michaud is working across party lines to require that the military buys shoes that are made here in America.”

As that last line is delivered, a generic-looking newspaper article from the State News Services, dated June 14, 2013, is superimposed over images of factory workers with the headline: “House passes Michaud amendment requiring 100% Made-in-USA uniforms.”

New Balance, which makes shoes in Maine, could benefit from the new policy, creating hundreds of new jobs, but the company’s name does not appear in the ad.

The ad highlights Michaud’s long-time advocacy to get the U.S. military to comply with the Berry Amendment, which requires uniforms to be made in the U.S.  Up until recently, soldiers received a stipend to buy athletic footwear, which in many cases was made in a foreign country. Michaud has sent New Balance sneakers to the president and defense secretary, and helped pass an amendment to the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization bill to bring the military into compliance.

The ad also seeks to blunt a criticism repeatedly leveled by Maine Republicans and independent Eliot Cutler – that Michaud is a back-bencher in Congress, who hasn’t gotten anything done. This ad portrays Michaud, a former mill worker who opposes free trade agreements that don’t protect U.S. manufacturing jobs, as the leader of an initiative that could create jobs in Maine. It also touts the quality of U.S. producers.

The post Michaud ad touts support for American manufacturing appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

Collins, Bellows compete for labor endorsements

Press Herald Politics -

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is touting endorsements of three unions at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as the Republican and her Democratic challenger, Shenna Bellows, compete for the organized labor vote.

Unions often align with Democratic candidates these days because of the growing schism between organized labor and the Republican party (evidenced in Maine by Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s combative relationship with organized labor). And Bellows has wracked up numerous high-profile union endorsements in the campaign so far.

But Collins – a moderate Republican seeking a fourth term in Washington – has landed a number of endorsements from organized labor groups.

On Thursday, she held an event at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard highlighting recent endorsements from three unions at the Kittery facility: the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades – New England Council and the New England Council of the Laborers’ International Union of North American.

Collins has also been endorsed by all four unions at Bath Iron Works shipyard, a fact that her campaign featured in its first television ad to counter Bellows’ attempt to position herself as the candidate for working-class Mainers.

Bellows, meanwhile, has landed an endorsement from the Portsmouth Metal Trades Council, which represents blue-collar workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The Democrat also has a lengthy list of endorsements from other unions. That list includes: all of the Maine chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Maine State Employees Association-Service Employees International Union, the 45,000-member AFSCME Council 93, the Maine State Nurses Association and the Maine AFL-CIO (although not all of the AFL-CIO member unions have endorsed Bellows).

The competition for union endorsements between the Democrat and Republican in the Senate race is unique among this year’s high-profile political competitions in Maine – and nationally, to some extent.

Don’t expect to see too many unions (or any, for that matter) endorse LePage’s re-election campaign given past clashes over “right to work” laws and the labor movement mural that hung in the Department of Labor building until LePage took office. Likewise, Republican Bruce Poliquin hasn’t received any endorsements in his race against Democrat Emily Cain for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Of course, endorsements from organizations don’t always translate into a surge in votes from people outside of those groups. But unions bring with them a well-organized and well-connected network of members often willing to make phone calls, hand out pamphlets or knock on doors for a candidate.

So expect both the Bellows and Collins to continue to seek union endorsements – and trumpet them when they get them.

 

 

 

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Labor union endorsements for Collins bolster her identity as a rare kind of Republican

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and her 2014 Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows. Reuters photo (Collins) by Joshua Roberts. BDN photo (Bellows) by Troy Bennett.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins continues to pile up labor union endorsements in her bid for re-election. This time it’s three union locals at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who will line up behind the third-term U.S. Senator.

Members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO; the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, New England Council/AFL-CIO; and the Laborers’ International Union of North America, New England Council will gather with Collins outside the Kittery shipyard Thursday morning. At least one of those groups, the painters union, announced its endorsement of Collins weeks ago.

I’ve reported it before and I’ll report it again: This is interesting because labor unions endorse Republicans far less frequently than they do Democrats. The three new endorsements put the tally for labor union nods for Collins in double digits, including four union locals at Bath Iron Works.

Collins has been a regular visitor to BIW and PNSY over the years, due in part to committee and subcommittee assignments she has held in the Senate, including the appropriations committee and its subcommittee on military construction and the Committee on Armed Services and its subcommittee on sea power.

Collins’ opponent in the Senate race, Democrat Shenna Bellows, has 14 union endorsements under her belt, including the Maine AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Maine State Employees Association and the Maine State Nurses Association, the PNSY Metal Trades Council.

Bellows said Thursday morning that the endorsements for Collins don’t change the fact that Bellows is the candidate in this race who is most concerned about working families. Among other things, Bellows is an outspoken supporter President Barack Obama’s call to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, though Collins has favored wage hikes in past years and recently has voiced support of a compromise deal that would boost the minimum wage, though not has high as Obama wants.

“We’re thrilled with our level of labor support,” said Bellows Thursday morning. “Receiving the endorsement of the Metal Trades Council at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at the end of my walk through Maine was incredibly meaningful for me. … I’m proud to be the kind of candidate who gets as many labor union endorsements as we have without needing to ask the question why. My support of working families has been consistent.”

Though Bellows’ 350-mile walk across Maine appears to have moved some support in her favor, particularly among Democrats, she still has a steep and maybe insurmountable uphill climb to victory. A recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Collins leading Bellows by 24 percentage points and the incumbent senator is millions of dollars ahead in the money race. In the 2008 election, Collins crushed former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Allen with more than 61 percent of the vote.

Bellows acknowledges her tough path to victory and recently has been amplifying her calls for Collins to appear with her in debates, and soon. The first of five scheduled debates between the two candidates is scheduled for October 20, just two weeks before election day and two weeks after Mainers can begin absentee voting. In recent elections, somewhere between a third and a quarter of Maine voters have cast absentee ballots.

From a strategy perspective, campaign front-runners have little to gain by appearing onstage with their opponents and calls for more debates usually come from underdogs who need to boost their name recognition or hammer home their messaging. For Bellows, part of that message is that Collins votes too often in lockstep with Senate Republicans.

Collins describes herself as a centrist, a notion supported by some political observers, including a New York Times blogger who on Thursday cited Collins as one of the two U.S. senators most willing to vote against their party’s majority. Data cited by the blog shows that in 2013-14, Collins voted with Republicans 58 percent of the time, which was down from about 80 percent in the early years of her tenure.

 

 

 

 

LePage calls out Deval Patrick on energy politics

The Maine Wire -

In his weekly address, Governor Paul R. LePage criticized Governor Deval Patrick on Thursday for backing out of a plan to alleviate high energy costs in New England by developing infrastructure that would increase the supply of natural gas. “This is not rocket science, folks,” said LePage.  “Bad public policy and politics are blocking progress.” […]

LePage tells newspapers to drop dead as another GOP governor pursues people’s health

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

BDN photo by Gabor Degre.

What a contrast: As Gov. LePage said it’s a plague that newspapers are “still alive,” another Republican governor is pursuing a policy that will save lives and improve health.

In deep red Wyoming, Republican Gov. Matt Mead has started negotiating with federal officials on expanding Medicaid. Like Maine, the state hospital association supports an expansion, which would reduce uncompensated care and make preventive care more available, reducing overall costs and human suffering.

LePage made his comments on a day when his electoral opponents were talking about policies to help Maine people. Eliot Cutler sketched out proposals on welfare reform. Mike Michaud put out a detailed plan, comprehensive plan to support Maine agriculture and make Maine New England’s food basket.

As LePage’s challengers and Wyoming look to solutions, LePage continues his intense rhetoric

Gov. LePage has again made it clear that he really doesn’t like Maine newspapers.

No, he hasn’t joked about blowing up the headquarters of the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News again, as he did last August.

This time LePage said:

“The worst part of my life is newspapers are still alive — sorry, I had to say it.”

Evidently papers are so painful to the governor that he thinks it would be better if they were gone, along with their many jobs.

Maine’s economy is lagging behind the rest of New England’s. Families are having trouble paying bills and getting health care. LePage blocked Medicaid expansion, making life harder for low-income working families.

But, according to the governor, “the worst part of his life” isn’t anything he’s grappling with to help Maine, nor anything just among his family and friends.

Instead, LePage’s plague is the papers.

The politics of this are clear

Trashing newspapers rally LePage’s base which, depending on how the Michaud-Cutler vote is split, is enough for him to get re-elected.

LePage’s supporters love this sort of thing. The impact on a strong supporter is to help keep the governor, as LePage put it, “in your heart.”

(That “in your heart” phrase, by the way, has roots in a sentence of Shakespeare’s invoking physical intimacy. LePage’s longer statement, which also mentioned being in one of his critic’s “head,” is bit of fake Shakespeare.)

Of course the comments also affect people who don’t support the governor, reminding them of many other incidents where he said outrageous things and when he trashed the press.

The Republican Governor’s Association have been painting a more muted version of LePage, as its ads call him “unique.” Their advertising approach makes sense, because it’s obvious LePage’s temperament, along with his tendency to say things that aren’t true but are consistent with his rather strong ideology, is a campaign issue.

But that more subtle picture, which smoothed out LePage’s edges, is sharpened every time LePage says something like this.

And the contrast to pragmatic political figures, who think there are problems more painful than the press, is clear.

RGA spending nearly $1.3 million on Maine TV ads

Press Herald Politics -

The Republican Governor’s Association, a tax-exempt political group that boosts GOP candidates throughout the nation, has committed to buying nearly $1.3 million in television ad time in Maine, according to public disclosure documents at the Federal Elections Commission.

The purchases span from mid August up to Election Day, securing access to the airwaves for a group that has committed to spend big this year to help Gov. Paul LePage win re-election.

The biggest buy on a single station was for WCSH in Portland, at $515,755, followed by $304,241 worth of airtime purchased from WMTW in Portland and $250,990 from WLBZ in Bangor. Stations WFVX and WVII in Bangor received $19,350 and $87,420 from the group, respectively.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chairs the RGA, has already visted Maine twice to help drum up campaign donations for the state GOP and LePage’s campaign. During his most recent visit to an aviation company in Bangor, Christie said his group was ready to spend what they needed to spend to help LePage prevail.

“Millions of dollars will be spent here by the RGA by the time we’re done,” Christie said Aug. 12. “Exactly how many million, we’ll see.”

So far, the two advertisements produced by the RGA have attempted to recast LePage’s record of making controversial, sometimes crude statements as a positive, spinning his verbal style as a hallmark of authenticity.

The first advertisement, released Aug. 12, shows LePage supports describing LePage as “blunt,” a “real person,” and “brutally honest.”

The second advertisement pushes the narrative further, contrasting LePage with charactitures of politicians who are “blow-dried,” cookie-cutter, or always ready with the perfect sound bite.

How the political group choses to use the remaining air time, and how many other messaging spots they will use is unclear, as the RGA declined to comment Wednesday on its advertising strategy or future plans.

The post RGA spending nearly $1.3 million on Maine TV ads appeared first on Portland Press Herald Contributors.

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.

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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.

 

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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.

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