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U.S. Sen. Angus King to endorse Emily Cain

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King will endorse Emily Cain, the Democratic candidate who is running for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Press conferences to announce the endorsement will be held in Auburn at 10 a.m. and in Orono, on the University of Maine campus, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

This announcement rounds out King’s spectrum of endorsements. The first term senator has also declared his support for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler and Republican Senator Susan Collins, who is running for reelection.

Check back in with Bangor Daily News later in the day for updates.

National labor leader in Maine Wednesday to stump for Michaud

Press Herald Politics -

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Courtesy AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is scheduled to campaign Wednesday for Democratic U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, a former mill worker and member of the United Steel Workers International union.

The duo, who will emphasize the importance of American manufacturing, will greet workers at Bath Iron Works starting at 11:45 a.m., before heading to Waterville to picket alongside other USW members against Huhtamaki, a Finish-based company which, the AFL-CIO says, has “anti-worker practices (that) have resulted in fewer rights and higher health care costs for employees.” The picket is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at 242 College Avenue.

Workers previously picketed outside of the Waterville plant, which employs about 360 union workers, in August during a contract dispute. The company is best known for its Chinet brand of disposable tableware.

Michaud is getting strong backing from unions in his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has sought to weaken labor unions. The USW has contributed $300,000 to the Maine Democratic Party, and the Maine AFL-CIO recently launched a direct mail campaign pitching Michaud as the candidate for workers and the middle class.

Michaud previously served as the vice president of the United Paperworkers International Union, Local 152 at Great Northern Paper Co.’s East Millinocket mill. In August, Michaud addressed the USW’s annual convention in Las Vegas. The six-term congressman has been a vocal critic of free trade agreements that put American workers at a disadvantage, especially paper mills in Maine.

Are the tides turning in Poliquin’s favor?

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

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

It’s been a good few days for Bruce Poliquin. The GOP candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District gained a lead over the Democratic contender, state Sen. Emily Cain in a recent poll, though for months this has been called a tight race. He also pulled in an important endorsement, was paid a visit by one of the biggest names in the Republican Party and will likely benefit from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $1.5 million television advertisement that attacks Cain’s record on energy.

The poll, conducted by the Portland Press Herald from Sept. 18 through 25, has 40 percent of the 220 likely voters supporting Poliquin, 30 percent supporting Cain and 3 percent supporting Independent Blaine Richardson, according to PPH reporter Steve Mistler. A June poll conducted by the paper had Cain leading with 44 percent of the vote compared to Poliquin’s 39 percent.

The NRCC’s 30 second ad taps into widespread anxiety over the situation that is unfolding in Iraq and Syria by claiming that Cain’s policies would make the U.S. more dependent on the region for energy. The ad, which does not mention Poliquin, shows footage of what looks like ISIS fighters clad all in black marching with large automatic weapons while a voice over says, “A dangerous world, threatening America. We need to be energy independent, but Emily Cain would make us more reliant on Middle East oil.”

The ad says Cain opposes the Keystone Pipeline and the development of natural gas in Maine. 

In a response sent out Tuesday, Cain’s campaign called the ad “fear-mongering” and said that Cain supports bringing more natural gas to Maine and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“This ad attempts to tie Emily to terrorism and we aren’t surprised to see this coming from desperate politicians like Bruce Poliquin and his rich allies,” Levi Knapp, Cain’s campaign manager, said in the statement.

The press release points out that Cain voted in support of the 2013 bill that attempts to lower energy costs in Maine by encouraging the expansion of natural gas here.

Here’s the NRCC ad:

It will run in the Portland and Bangor areas for a week, according to Ian Prior, the NRCC’s regional press secretary.

Then on Tuesday, Poliquin was endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Back in May, the NRA endorsed Poliquin’s opponent, Kevin Raye, in the primary. Raye’s spokesman said at the time that Poliquin’s record did not align with the NRA because he had donated $500 to an organization called Handgun Control in 1989 and supported mandatory background checks when he ran for governor in 2010.

During this election season, Poliquin has made a point of declaring his support for the pro-gun group.

“I am deeply honored to receive the support of the NRA,” he said in a prepared statement that was released Tuesday. “It has been a long time since Maine’s 2nd District has had a true advocate for the 2nd Amendment in Washington.” 

All this comes on the heels of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s visit last week. The speaker came to Portland to help host a fundraiser for the Republican candidate in Portland, which is outside of the 2nd Congressional District. The GOP’s candidate for the 1st Congressional District, Isaac Misiuk, who is trailing incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree, was not told of the event.

Cain and Poliquin will participate in a Bangor Daily News/WGME debate in Portland on Oct. 14.

In new ad, Republicans say Cain favors oil … by opposing it

Press Herald Politics -

National Republicans’ first attack ad on Democratic 2nd Congressional District hopeful Emily Cain hits her on energy policy.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm for House Republicans, says Cain “would make us more reliant on Middle East oil.” But it’s really attacking her for favoring alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. Somewhat ironically, it even hits her for opposing an oil pipeline.

Cain’s campaign released a statement saying she is the only candidate who “supports an energy policy that moves America away from reliance on foreign oil.”

The ad is the first salvo against the Orono state senator from the NRCC, which announced $1.5 million in ad purchases to aid Republican Bruce Poliquin in the Bangor and Portland markets last week.

The ad’s first claim is pretty straightforward: Cain told MPBN that she does oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

But here’s the rub: That’s an oil pipeline. It would carry oil from the tar sands of western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. She also said she would “use government subsidies provided to oil companies to speed up research into renewable energy alternatives, such as offshore wind, tidal power, solar power and other alternatives.”

The claims get cloudier from there: Cain also opposes fracking, a way of extracting natural gas from the earth using highly pressurized water, at a Brewer forum in May, according to the Bangor Daily News.

In the ad, the NRCC takes that to mean she “opposes developing clean, American natural gas,” but Cain’s campaign noted that she has voted to boost access to natural gas in Maine, including her support of an omnibus energy bill that passed the Maine Legislature last year, which expands pipelines.

The ad’s last claim is the cloudiest: The NRCC says she “supports a job-killing carbon tax.” She did say she supports a carbon tax at a Lewiston forum in May.

But will it kill jobs? That’s not a given. Industry groups have said it would by burdening large energy users, but they have rarely discussed a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which is the idea that the questioner at the Lewiston forum posed.

A revenue-neutral tax would refund the taxes paid to consumers, according to The Guardian, perhaps in the form of income tax reduction. One study found that it would be a financial gain for most people and said a tax could create millions of jobs in the United States as people spend the money they’ve gotten back.

The Canadian province of British Columbia launched a revenue-neutral tax in 2008, and it is popular there. It has decreased carbon pollution, the province’s economy has stayed level with the rest of Canada and it polls well, The Guardian said.

This Republican line of attack should be familiar to Maine political observers: Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, has said reliance on “green energy” costs too much and drives manufacturing job losses.

Like Cain, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has embraced renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. That debate will continue as both elections heat up and the weather cools down.

Nate Silver gives Maine People’s Alliance pollster C-

The Maine Wire -

Nate Silver, polling aficionado for ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight.com, published a comprehensive ranking of American polling houses last week. According to Silver’s analysis, Maine People’s Resource Center, the polling organ of the liberal Maine People’s Alliance, scored in the bottom fifth of all polling houses with a “C-”. According to FiveThirtyEight.com, “pollster ratings are calculated by analyzing […]

VIDEO: Ex-Prisoners Take Priority Under ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion

The Maine Wire -

The Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples, Florida-based think tank focused on developing state and national health care policy, on Tuesday released a powerful — and hilarious — video highlighting the priorities of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provisions. Maine is one of a handful of states that have not expanded Medicaid pursuant to […]

Millionaire Democrat among recipients of taxpayer-funded election cash

The Maine Wire -

Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Portland) has taken more than $23,000 from taxpayers under Maine’s Clean Election Act — despite being personally wealthy as the result of an inheritance stemming from his grandfather Harold Alfond’s sale of Dexter Shoe Co. According to Alfond’s campaign finance report filed last week, the Democratic leader has raised $500 in […]

Michaud vows to address climate change, build the Maine DEP

Press Herald Politics -

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud said Monday that if elected governor he will rebuild the Department of Environmental Protection, whose reputation and structure “have been decimated” under Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

In addition to rebuilding the DEP, the Democratic candidate for governor vowed to let “sound science and the law” inform his environmental policies, especially when it comes to climate change, which he said lawmakers have a “moral responsibility” to address.

“The LePage administration has cut DEP programs and personnel, blocked staff from doing their jobs and reduced enforcement of laws that protect us while appointing an industry lobbyist to the agency’s top position,” Michaud said. “Unfortunately, (LePage) actually seems to think that climate change is a good thing. His DEP commissioner directed staff to stop working on climate change.”

Michaud made the remarks while outlining his environmental policies Monday night at the University of Southern Maine. The latest poll commissioned by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram show Michaud and LePage locked in a statistical dead heat (40 percent to 38 percent, with a 4 percent margin of error), with independent Eliot Cutler trailing in a distant third at 12 percent.

Michaud’s speech, which was originally slated for Sept. 15 but was rescheduled because of his congressional calendar, comes on the heels of a new direct mailer campaign launched by the Maine Forward political action committee, which is also hitting the LePage administration for putting “Big Oil’s lobbyist in charge of protecting our environment.”

The attacks center on LePage’s appointment of Patricia Aho as DEP commissioner. Aho is a lawyer who spent most of her career representing commercial and industrial clients, including Maine Petroleum Association. A PPH/MST investigation revealed how Aho’s decisions as DEP commissioner could have been affected by her prior jobs. Among the findings: A 49 percent drop in land enforcement actions, removal of the state from the federal dam licensing process, and reluctance to add any new chemicals to the Kid Safe Products Act.

Michaud appeared to go off-script and became slightly emotional when addressing former state workers who were in the audience.

“Some of you were forced out, because you cared about the environment and that was not the direction of this administration,” Michaud said. “But I will ensure each and every one of you here this evening that we will take back Maine. We will make Maine the place that we know that we want. But we’re only going to do it if we work together.”

LePage spokesman Alex Willette has said the governor has a “strong environmental record.” Willette pointed out that in 2011 the LePage administration fined Chevron $900,000 – the second largest environmental penalty in the state’s history – for letting thousands of gallons of oil leak from an oil tank farm into the Penobscot River in Hampden.

David Sorensen, spokesman for the Maine Republican Party, defended LePage in a written statement Monday night.

“(LePage) cares deeply about protecting Maine’s environment, but he’s the first governor in a long time to also recognize that DEP has been heavy-handed at times and that the agency must be more cognizant of the needs of small businesses if we are to strengthen our economy and our environment alongside one another,” Sorensen said.

Michaud said protecting the environment should be a bi-partisan view. In an attempt to appeal to moderates, Michaud noted that some of the state’s strongest environmental laws were initiated by Republicans in the 1970s.

Michaud also hit LePage for vetoing a bill that would have protected waterways from lawn fertilizers, a measure based on similar laws in Vermont and New Hampshire. “My administration will strengthen the programs and partnerships needed to protect water quality, including the LakeSmart program that helps homeowners reduce runoff from their properties,” he said.

The speech hit some familiar notes. Michaud repeated that he was first compelled to run for the Legislature in 1980 to clean up the Penobscot River. He also referenced his Maine Made economic plan, which proposes to make the state the “food basket of New England,” invest in renewable energy — biomass, tidal, off-shore wind and solar, and further capitalize on tourism.

Michaud said he would work with New England governors to develop a “clean fuels standard.”

“The LePage administration has a dismal record on energy.  It has failed to lead on energy efficiency, and it has been downright antagonistic to renewables,” Michaud said. “I will organize my administration so that it can be a leader on climate issues. ”

Independent Eliot Cutler said last week that the environmental groups that endorsed Michaud have “green-washed” his record. Cutler pointed to

Colleague Eric Russell reported this on Sept 22:

The major point offered by the Cutler campaign was Michaud’s oft-repeated claim that he got involved in state politics to help clean up the Penobscot River, which was being polluted by the Great Northern Paper mill, where Michaud worked.

Cutler’s staff, however, produced a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1980, months before Michaud was elected the first time, that indicated cleanup of the Penobscot had largely begun before Michaud’s election.

The Cutler campaign also pointed out that Michaud, in the mid-1980s, supported a dam project known as “Big A” that environmentalists opposed.

Maine Briefing 9.29.14: The old, the new, the overlooked

Press Herald Politics -

A quick rundown of some political odds and ends …

* Here’s a quick recap on the WGAN Morning Show from Sept. 23 about a  story that seemed to encapsulate all the negative aspects of the gubernatorial race in a single piece.

* Consumers of the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Party Time now have a local version, thanks to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. I’ve also noticed that MCPIR’s compilation of fundraising events are also appearing on Sunlight’s subscription service, so you can get them all delivered to your inbox.

* Been wondering about whether the bear baiting referendum will affect the gubernatorial contest? Me, too. Here’s our sidebar on the issue that ran with Sunday’s poll story on the race for governor. There’s also a quick video with Andy Smith, the director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

* Ok, it’s not about Maine politics, but it’s been amazing — amazing — to read news about the gubernatorial race in Ohio where Democrats are attempting to rally around down-ticket candidates. You read that correctly, down-ticket candidates. That means candidates for the state legislature. That’s the opposite of how party enthusiasm is supposed to work, but Ohio Democrats don’t have a choice. Ed FitzGerald’s gubernatorial candidacy has imploded so spectacularly that members of his own party have acknowledged that he’s a drag on their 2014 hopes.

Republican Gov. John Kasich recently announced that he won’t debate FitzGerald, marking the first time in three decades that there hasn’t been a gubernatorial debate in Ohio. Kasich’s reason for bailing?

FitzGerald’s implosion.

* Speaking of debates, we talked about the wacky back-and-forth over debates in Maine Monday on WGAN.

*  We’ve devoted a lot of coverage to the record spending in the gubernatorial and legislative races. Anthony Corrado, political science professor of government at Colby College and one of the nation’s leading experts on campaign finance, talked about the trend and some of the consequences in the video below. Corrado does this for news outlets all across the country. We were fortunate to get the interview.









LePage blasts Mass. liberals on natural gas policy, calls for federal intervention

The Maine Wire -

AUGUSTA - Gov. Paul R. LePage on Monday called upon the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to intervene in New England to address rising energy prices before a winter gets underway — a step he said is necessary because of recent actions taken by Massachusetts. “New England households and our businesses are about to experience a […]

Michaud retains slight lead in newest poll, plus 7 stories you need to read

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud last week in Portland. BDN photo by Troy R. Bennett.

The latest poll regarding Maine’s gubernatorial race shows the Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, with a small but statistically irrelevant advantage over incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, and independent candidate Eliot Cutler trailing far behind.

The latest survey, commissioned by the Portland Press Herald and conducted Sept. 18-25 by pollsters at the University of New Hampshire, shows Michaud polling at 40 percent to LePage’s 38 percent. Cutler drew the support of 12 percent of respondents, and 10 percent were undecided.

Even including those who said they are “leaning” toward a particular candidate, Michaud retains the same margin over LePage, 41 to 39. The two-point margin in both scenarios is well within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error.

Do the preceding paragraphs sound familiar? Because by now they should. The basic shape of the race — Michaud with a small advantage, within the margin of error — hasn’t really changed since June.

However, as PPH reporter Steve Mistler pointed out, there is one piece of data within the poll’s results — I’d recommend you check out all the poll’s findings here — that piqued my interest.

Those of you who follow polling will likely have seen something in the past few years about the superior track record of “expectation” versus “preference” in predicting the outcome of elections. Basically, when a pollster asks respondents who they expect will win an election, rather than who the respondents support, the poll yields results that more accurately predict the outcome.

The idea here, according to researchers David Rothschild and Justin Wolfers, is that by asking someone what they expect an outcome to be, you’re drawing on a larger pool of information. The respondent is forced to consider not only their own preference, but to assess the preferences of everyone they know, as well as media coverage, debate performance, and campaign narrative. Rothschild and Wolfers said asking about the respondent’s expectations was like “turbocharging the sample size.”

Anyway: The PPH/UNH poll showed something interesting: Even though more respondents said they supported Michaud than LePage, the “expectation” number was flipped: 38 percent said they thought LePage would win, and 37 percent predicted a Michaud victory. Just 5 percent though Cutler would be the state’s next governor.

Back in June, when PPH/UNH conducted its first poll, 43 percent said they believed Michaud would win, compared to 31 percent for LePage and 7 percent for Cutler.

That’s a big shift in the public’s perception about the shape of this race; Even though only about the same number of people say they plan on voting for LePage, far more are predicting that he’ll be the eventual winner.

7 stories you need to read

Daily Catch: Obama’s ’60 Minutes’ Interview, Debate Debates, Minimum Wage, and James O’Keefe’s Latest

The Maine Wire -

Contradiction:  In a CBS “60 Minutes” interview, President Barack Obama admitted that his foreign policy plans in Syria were based on a contradiction. The president’s efforts to “degrade” Islamic State forces may have the undesired effect of helping the brutal Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, regain control of the country.  “I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land […]

Poll: Poliquin leads Cain by double digits

The Maine Wire -

A new public opinion poll shows Republican Bruce Polquin leading Democrat state Sen. Emily Cain (D-Orono) by 10 points in Maine’s Second District congressional race. The poll was paid for by the liberal-leaning Portland Press Herald, whose majority owner, S. Donald Sussman, has donated to Cain. It was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey […]

New poll with Michaud leading and Cutler lagging suggests why LePage says he will debate

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

In a new poll commissioned by the Press Herald, Rep. Mike Michaud continues to lead the race for governor.

You can read their article about the poll here and see breakdowns from it here.

Michaud is the preference of 40% with 38% for LePage and 12% for Cutler. When people leaning toward a candidate are including, Michaud attracts 41%, LePage 39% and Cutler 14%. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points; the lead is within that margin.

Because the Press-Herald’s previous poll, back in June had Michaud leading by 4 percentage points without leaners and 5 points with leaners included, they are describing the race as “narrowing.” However, given the sizes of both polls’ margins of the error, that can’t be said with certainty.

Last week the Cutler campaign announced that their internal poll had him at 19% and claimed momentum. Compared to other recent polls, including this new one, that poll looks like an outlier. At this point, Cutler doesn’t appear to have changed the basic shape of the race.

2014 Maine governor’s race. Chart of polls included by RealClearPolitics for August and September 2014.

In the last two months, as the above chart of polls shows, the governor’s race looks fairly stable. Michaud has had a narrow lead over LePage, with Cutler trailing. [You can see a graph showing polls over a longer time period here.]

Polls and the debate brouhaha

After the Press Herald poll was published the morning of September 28, later that day Gov. LePage announced he would go ahead and debate his opponents.

Debates, of course, are a normal part of gubernatorial campaigns.

However, regarding participating in debates and public fora, LePage has looked erratic.

He sat in a Portland parking garage and left rather than sit at a table with his opponents at an energy forum.

Then the governor said he wouldn’t debate Michaud because he wanted Michaud to denounce an ad about the press release the governor’s office issued that included Social Security among “welfare” programs. (After an uproar about the press release, his office said the governor’s statement encompassing Social Security that, “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” was poorly and wrongly phrased.)

After that, LePage said he would attend debates but sit in the audience and watch.

So why has LePage changed his mind again and decided to debate?

Simply, he and his strategists have concluded it’s in his best interest to do so.

LePage has to try to shake up the race, which looks, as I said, pretty stable.

If there was some strategy behind LePage’s previous moves on debates, one element could have been to feed into one rationale for Cutler’s candidacy, that the political parties engage in partisan food fights. Another would have been to create a negative impression about the truthfulness of Michaud, a political leader who doesn’t have a history or reputation for lying.

Michaud’s favorable ratings remain strong, suggesting LePage hasn’t convinced Maine voters that Michaud isn’t honest.

LePage’s erratic shifts on debates remind voters of his previous actions and statements, including his long record of saying things that just weren’t true.

Michaud continues to lead and Cutler continues to lag. The longer this goes on, the less likely it is that the anti-LePage vote will split further and the more likely it is that these voters will consolidate further for Mike Michaud.

So LePage will get on the stage and hope that he and Cutler can change the dynamic of this race by pulling down Michaud so anybody-but-LePage voters don’t know who to support, thus enabling LePage to win reelection.

LePage nominee for UMS Trustee rejected by committee after plagiarism allegation

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Susan Dench – Bangor Daily News photo

Susan Dench, head of the conservative Informed Women’s Network and former columnist for the Bangor Daily News, saw her nomination to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees voted down by the Education Committee today after blistering testimony from members of the UMS community and others alleging that Dench holds extreme views about education, diversity and the role of women and that she is unqualified to help oversee the state’s public universities.

While Dench’s controversial opinions were mostly public knowledge, as they were primarily expressed in a series of columns she wrote for this newspaper, (Dench’s employment as a columnist ended in July of this year) the committee also heard a new allegation that Dench had plagiarized some of her published work.

Professor Jane Kuenz, chair of the Department of English at the University of Southern Maine, testified that she had reviewed one of Dench’s columns, titled The Pilgrims Were Communists – Happy Thanksgiving, and found that is was substantially plagiarized from a post on FreeRepublic.com by a user with the pseudonym bobjam.

“Ms. Dench has rewritten Bobjam’s original article, often in her own words, but also sometimes not,” said Kuenz. “All of the quotations from Bradford are the same. All of the points made about the quotations from Bradford are the same. She even interjects the same sarcastic parenthetical remark at the same point in the article.”

“Someone who doesn’t understand the core values of the university shouldn’t serve on the board of trustees,” concluded Kuenz.

Concerns about Dench’s controversial views were expressed by a number of those who testified, including Danna Hayes, director of public policy for the Maine Women’s Lobby, who spoke against Dench’s nomination on behalf of her organization as well as the Maine chapter of the American Association of University Women, Equality Maine, and Family Crisis Services.

Hayes noted columns where Dench had decried schools’ role in the “feminization of boys,” deemed women “the weaker sex,” and blamed feminism and women’s sexual empowerment for creating a “hook up culture” and “inflict[ing] social damage.”

“While these view may be dismissed as simply old-fashioned, the sexual violence prevention community has resoundingly agreed that these types of beliefs perpetuate the power dynamics that result in violence,” said Hayes. “We believe Ms. Dench’s confirmation would also send a message to the women of Maine, both alumnae and future students of the UMaine system, that our state does not take the psychology behind violence against women seriously.”

Dench defended these views to the committee as bringing a “diversity of opinion” to the Board and said that her background in advertising would be beneficial for marketing the University System.

The committee vote was eight to five against Dench, along party lines. Her nomination will now go before the entire Senate. LePage’s two other nominations to the Board were approved unanimously.

“As a retired teacher, I can tell you plagiarism wouldn’t be okay for my students and shouldn’t be okay for a member of a University board,” said Rep. Bruce MacDonald of Boothbay, House chair of the committee, in a written statement after the vote. “It automatically disqualified Mrs. Dench for the nomination, along with her fringe viewpoints that undermine public education.”  

Dench has said she first decided to get involved in politics after hearing an interview with Gov. LePage on talk radio and has since organized several rallies to support his policies at the statehouse. Her husband, Bryan Dench, serves as treasurer for LePage’s campaign and the two have given a combined $2,600 to his re-election. LePage made a number of controversial statements at an event hosted by Dench in October of last year, including his false claim that 47% of Mainers choose not to work.

Senate candidate Cary Weston too ethical, say Maine Democrats

The Maine Wire -

BANGOR – Maine Democrats on Friday drew attention to Republican state Senate candidate Cary Weston’s lawful campaign finance activities. The attack mailer, which landed in Penobscot County mailboxes this week,  criticizes Weston for paying his print company, Sutherland Weston, to produce mailers for his campaign against incumbent Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot). Weston’s business partner, Elizabeth […]

Maine Dems: Republicans support cancer, poisoning children

The Maine Wire -

AUGUSTA – Maine Republicans expressed outrage Friday over campaign literature sponsored by the Maine Democratic Party that attacks Sen. Brian Langley (R-Ellsworth) and Republican candidate Eric Brakey. The Democratic mailers accused Langley of failing to protect children from toxic chemicals and Brakey of opposing women’s access to breast-cancer screenings. “Maine Democrats have been lying their way […]

LePage calls Michaud ‘liar’ and ‘follower,’ continues to evade commitment on debates

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

The ongoing saga of whether Gov. Paul LePage would participate in any of the scheduled gubernatorial debates continued Friday, as the Republican incumbent maneuvered to put all responsibility for his own attendance on his Democratic Party opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

“The minute Michaud commits to being honest, I will debate him,” LePage told reporters at a campaign event in Scarborough.

LePage has been stomping his feet now for weeks about an attack ad by a liberal third-party group that criticizes him for calling Social Security “welfare” in a press release this June. Michaud has also attacked the governor for the comment, over and over.

The context for the welfare comment, in case you forgot, was this: Democrats had been proclaiming that Maine ranked 49th in personal income growth, citing figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The figure was used in attacks against LePage, who has campaigned on job creation and decreasing unemployment.

The governor responded with the now-infamous press release: In it, he said the BEA was inflates personal income figures with “welfare” payments, including social security. But don’t take my word for it; here’s the press release in its entirety (click to enlarge):

Since that fateful news release was distributed, LePage has been responding to criticism, saying he doesn’t not, in fact, believe Social Security is welfare. He even recorded a robo-call to that effect, which went statewide this summer. Here’s what he said on the subject Friday:

“I would never have made that comment. That is totally against my constitution. I have worked hard my entire life, and I paid the maximum to Social Security, and I fully intend to collect it someday, probably in about four and a half years.”

It’s an open secret in political circles that the elected person to whom a quote is attached is often not the one who wrote the statement. “Official” comments are often written by a staffer whose job it is to speak on behalf of the politician in question.

But when the official’s name is on a quote, that official is generally considered responsible for it, at least until he or she makes clear that someone else was putting words in their mouth.

LePage, though, has never sought to clarify how or why this statement went out with his name attached to it. His campaign originally claimed the quote was “taken out of context.” Lately, he’s simply insisted that he never said it at all.

So it’s not like Michaud or his allies are making the quote up. It’s there, in LePage’s own words. But the governor insists the whole controversy has been fabricated, and on Friday he reiterated his stance that he won’t attend any debates until Michaud “commits to being honest.” He also had some harsh words for the six-term Congressman.

“It should bother Mike that he’s deliberately and knowingly falsifying information to get votes,” LePage said. “And Mike: Shame on you. It’s not bothering my campaign. But I’m going to show the Maine people who he really is. Mike Michaud is a follower. They’re third-party ads and he’s not had the character to say I never said that; He doesn’t have the character or the ability to stand up and say ‘I don’t agree with that ad.”

Lizzy Reinholt, the Michaud campaign’s communications director, said LePage is talking out both sides of his mouth.

“LePage’s excuse about lagging personal income growth was that it’s not really lagging behind, it’s that he had cut welfare, because calculating income growth requires counting those transfer receipts,” she said Friday. “So he either has to explain why our personal income growth is lagging behind, or say that social security and Medicare are welfare. He can’t have it both ways.”

As for the insults and ongoing questions about LePage’s attendance at debates, Reinholt said Michaud was no longer paying attention.

“We’ll be there on Oct. 8 [when the first debate is scheduled],” she said. “We can’t keep getting distracted by every single thing the governor says.”

LePage debate debate continues

Press Herald Politics -

Will Mainers get to hear their incumbent governor debate the issues with his opponents?

Maybe, maybe not.

Gov. Paul LePage on Friday kept the suspense going over whether he will attend gubernatorial debates next month. At a ribbon cutting in Scarborough, LePage suggested he may sit in the audience while his opponents, Congressman Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler, face off on stage.

A spokesman declined to comment on the record Friday about whether LePage was serious or joking.

The governor has said he won’t debate Michaud because the Democrat and his supporters are claiming that LePage considers Social Security to be welfare.

“He doesn’t want to debate someone who’s falsifying the truth,” said Alex Willette, a LePage spokesman. “The governor’s even said he’s willing to debate Eliot Cutler, who while still being critical of the governor has stuck to the facts.”

The Social Security flap stems from a June 25 statement from LePage’s office about an economic report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The statement contended that income in five other New England states appeared to grow faster than income in Maine because the report included in its definition of income “personal transfer receipts,” the term for how the government classifies benefits it administers, including Medicaid, Social Security, and tax-breaks and subsidies administered through the Obamacare health exchanges.

“It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” LePage said in the statement.

LePage has said he doesn’t consider Social Security to be welfare and he cited his opponents’ claims as the reason he has decided not to debate Michaud. The candidates had previously agreed to six debates in October, some of them televised.


Bellows: I’ll convince libertarians to support minimum wage hike

The Maine Wire -

AUGUSTA – The Democratic candidate running against Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins told reporters at a Thursday press conference she will bring libertarians on board with President Obama’s plans to hike the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. “On the minimum wage issue [Shenna] Bellows said, if elected, she would work with members of […]


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