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National pro-choice group launches campaign to ‘push Michaud over the finish line’

Press Herald Politics -

NARAL Pro-Choice America on Monday announced a “six-figure campaign to help push Mike Michaud over the finish line.”

Michaud, a six-term congressman from northern Maine and Democratic candidate for governor, is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Recent polls show Michaud with a slight lead, though within the polls’ margin of error, over LePage.

Independent Eliot Cutler, who has been criticizing Michaud’s pro-life past, trails in a distant third place. Michaud says his views on abortion have evolved after listening to the stories of women, a crucial voting bloc for Democrats.

NARAL endorsed Michaud in March, citing his 100 percent rating with the group in recent years. On Monday, the group said in a press release it plans to send three rounds of direct mailers to 35,000 “key voters” and launch an aggressive digital campaign.

The mailers largely echo the messaging of Planned Parenthood’s political action committee, which is also spending six figures to help elect Michaud. The mailers hit LePage for opposing abortion, and cutting funding for family planning clinics, which provide preventative health services, cancer screenings and birth control to many low-income women.

According to campaign finance records, NARAL Pro-Choice Maine political action committee had made two independent expenditures of more than $23,460 each on Oct. 14 and Oct. 17.

Here’s a look at the mailers:

Collins-Bellows to square off tonight during first of five debates

Press Herald Politics -

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Shenna Bellows will share a stage in Presque Isle tonight during the first of five televised debates in Maine’s race for U.S. Senate.

The first debate is being sponsored by WAGM-TV in Presque Isle, which means only television viewers living in northern Maine will be able to watch the event live. The station plans to post the video of the hour-long debate on its website, wagmtv.com, as early as Monday night, so those outside of WAGM’s territory may want to check there periodically. I will also post a link to WAGM’s video of the debate here when it becomes available.

Here is the schedule for the other four Senate debates between Collins, an 18-year veteran, and Bellows:

  • Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. – Maine Public Broadcasting Network/Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce at Husson University in Bangor
  • Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. – WMTW in Auburn
  • Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m. – WGME CBS 13/Bangor Daily News in Portland
  • Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. – WCSH in Portland

Viewers can expect lively discussion between the two. Collins is, of course, no stranger to political debates after 18 years in the Senate. Likewise, Bellows participated in her share of political discussions during her eight years as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and as a leader in the referendum campaigns to legalize same-sex marriage and to restore same-day voter registration in Maine.

Bellows, 39, has been aggressively challenging Collins in recent months on issues such as increasing the minimum wage, workplace pay discrimination, campaign finance reform/Citizens United, national security, the Affordable Care Act and her role in last year’s government shutdown. The Collins campaign has responded by portraying the Bellows campaign as error-prone when it comes to the senator’s record and out-of-step with mainstream Maine voters.

This will be Bellows’ first chance to challenge Collins directly, and Collins first chance to respond directly — or to challenge her challenger. Bellows had pushed unsuccessfully for 10 debates starting earlier in the election season. While the Democrat has made some headway against Collins, she still trails the moderate Republican by large margins in recent polls, so her campaign is counting on a strong showing during the debates to close that gap as they enter the final two weeks.

Cutler campaign goes dark

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A few weeks ago, I posted a blog surmising that Eliot Cutler was “pulling up stakes.” Although personally very wealthy, he had decided to dramatically decrease the amount of money he was spending on TV at a time when every other competitive campaign was increasing their amount.

You should have seen the reaction (or maybe you did). Cutler’s top operatives went into full scale attack/damage control. His top guy, Ted O’Meara, said to my colleague Steve Mistler, “As usual Ethan Strimling doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We filmed seven new ads on Monday.” His top media person, Crystal Canney wrote on Twitter, “Ethan’s political analysis is a lot like his political campaigns – goes nowhere.”  She called this paper to complain and then called me personally to tell me how disappointed she was and flatly declared, “We are not pulling up stakes.” When I asked why they had pulled all their money off TV, she refused to answer and said she was done speaking with me.

After I explained all this to a friend, he sent me a note saying, “As they say in the Air Force: if they’re shooting at you, you are probably over the target.”

Boy does it turn out that I was over the target. Despite the campaign saying they had filmed seven ads and were preparing big TV buys, Cutler has decreased his TV time weekly. The week I wrote about in my original blog, he ended up with $55,000 on TV. The next, $50,000. The next, $29,000.

And for the week we are currently in…wait for it…team Cutler has purchased $4,000 worth of TV.

Just to give you some comparative idea of how this stacks up, the LePage and Michaud campaigns have purchased well over $200,000 each for the same week. And groups supporting them have each purchased an additional $250,000 – $350,000 for the same week (there are currently no outside groups supporting Eliot, which tells us a whole different story). All told, this means Cutler may be outspent 100-1 this week by each of the other campaigns.

For all intents and purposes, this means Cutler has basically gone dark on TV. He has simply decided to stop spending money on the best way to communicate his message to the voters. And when you decide to go dark on TV, especially when you have the resources to do so, that usually means you understand that you have no chance to win.



Why bringing the president, first lady or a congressman to Maine matters, plus 7 stories you need to read

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Former President Bill Clinton and Maine gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud hit the stage at the Portland Expo recently in Portland. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Part of the calculus for many voters trying to figure out who to support has to do with trying to imagine the candidate in the position he or she is running for. That’s why some campaigns go to such lengths to bring in big names and make sure the media has an opportunity to spread a photo or video of the candidate and the visitor stumping together.

It’s a strategy that all three gubernatorial candidates are employing, as well as 2nd Congressional District Republican nominee Bruce Poliquin.

On Sunday, Democrat Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign announced that former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will rally for Michaud on Friday in Scarborough. President Barack Obama previously agreed to come to Maine on Michaud’s behalf on Oct. 30. Former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Barack Obama have already been on stages with Michaud in recent weeks.

In addition, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has had three visits from New Jersey Gov. and Chair of the Republican Governor’s Association Chris Christie and independent candidate Eliot Cutler has landed the support of former Maine governor and current U.S. Sen. Angus King.

So what’s the point?

Beyond the obvious — that having former presidents and presidential hopefuls in Maine is a big deal that attracts a lot of media attention — there may be a little more to it when it comes to Michaud. The six-term congressman has been attacked for weeks for what his opponents say has been a lackluster political career. Appearing in press coverage with his arm held up, prize-fighter style, by Bill Clinton or Michelle Obama creates the impression that Michaud is part of the Washington establishment, which of course he is.

That said, one or more of the Democratic royalty would probably visit Maine regardless of who the gubernatorial candidate is, just as happened in 2010. The Clintons and Obamas coming is an indication that the Democratic universe recognizes that the race between Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage is a toss-up.

There’s also a fund-raising component, at least at the Hillary Clinton event. Like her husband did earlier this month, Clinton will participate in a photo line where people make a donation in order to have their picture taken with her. The Michaud campaign said today that there is no fund raising component to Obama’s visit.

Bruce Poliquin, the Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Michaud, also had some star power on his side on Sunday when U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, attended a fund raiser with Poliquin in the Oxford County town of Norway. That follows on a visit in September on Poliquin’s behalf by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

McCarthy is by no means as big a name as Boehner, mostly because he gained his leadership role in the House just this past August when former leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, lost in a primary bid for reelection. The McCarthy fund raiser wasn’t a public event, but McCarthy and Poliquin did sit for an interview with WMTW.

They emphasized that with Republicans likely to maintain their House majority, McCarthy will be in a position to place Poliquin on influential committees. The Cain campaign said Mainers don’t care about visits from “Washington insiders,” though Cain has also been endorsed by some Washington higher-ups, including independent Maine Sen. Angus King and former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell of Maine.

In news related to the 2nd Congressional District race, Roll Call reported today that the National Republican Congressional Committee is cutting back on its television advertising in the race between now and election day. The NRCC had originally reserved $1.6 million in TV time on behalf of Poliquin but has since decided to direct its resources to other races. That could be because Poliquin’s chances of victory appear to be improving, though some 25 percent of the voters in the race tell pollsters they’re undecided. In recent days, the Cook Political Report has moved the race from “leaning Democrat” to “toss up.” 

Here’s your Monday list of 7 recent political stories you need to read

Internal poll results released by Cain’s campaign put Cain ahead

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

From left to right: 2nd Congressional District candidates Emily Cain, D-Orono; Blaine Richardson, I-Belfast; and Bruce Poliquin, R-Oakland. BDN file photos by Brian Feulner, Chris Cousins and Robert F. Bukaty.

CAUTION: When internal polling results are released by a candidate’s campaign, it is usually done to benefit the candidate in some way. This is especially true when not all the data is released with the results, as is the case here.

Emily Cain’s campaign has released internal polling data today, which has Cain leading in the race to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District with 42 percent of registered voters questioned saying they would vote for her. In the poll, conducted by Normington, Petts and Associates, 34 percent of the 400 people questioned would vote for Bruce Poliquin and 8 percent would vote for Blaine Richardson, the independent candidate. Sixteen percent of those polled were still undecided.

The poll was conducted on Oct. 15th and 16th, so it took place after the candidates’ first debate, but before the second debate.

The release of the information by Cain’s campaign comes amid dueling interpretations over the news that the National Republican Congressional Committee will pull back on its commitment to fund television ads against Cain. After the NRCC pledged $1.5 million, then spent $965,000, Roll Call reported Monday that the committee would divert the rest of the money elsewhere.

“We have put Democrats on defense in Maine, and we are increasing our buys in several offensive seats,” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek told Roll Call, according to the report.

Democrats and Republicans, naturally, interpreted the news differently.

“Stick a fork in campaign, it’s done. declares victory in ,” twitted the Maine GOP spokesman, David Sorensen. 

“It’s about time: NRCC Cuts TV Buy in Maine, signaling loss of support for ,” Maine’s Democratic Party tweeted. 

For Cain’s poll, voters were called on cell phones and land lines. Thirty-three percent of the respondents were registered Democrats, 32 percent were registered Republicans and 35 percent were independent.

Two public polls were released last week, one showing Poliquin in the lead and the other favoring Cain. The only points the polls seem to agree on is that the race will be close and there’s still a large chunk of undecided voters.

“In comparison to where the public polls had this race even just a couple of weeks ago, it’s a significant movement towards Sen. Cain,” Jill Normington, partner with the polling group, said. Normington declined to send out cross tabs on the poll, which she said was the forth she has conducted since Cain became the Democratic nominee in June. She said all her polls have had Cain in the lead.

National GOP cuts TV time in Maine’s 2nd District, but does it matter?

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The National Republican Campaign Committee said Monday that it will cut its advertising campaign short in Maine’s 2nd District, spending only about $1 million out of an initial $1.5 million reservation to aid Republican hopeful Bruce Poliquin.

The NRCC has run $965,000 in ads over the last three weeks, hitting Democrat Emily Cain mostly on energy policy. They will spend another $94,000 more to run a coordinated ad campaign with Poliquin over the campaign’s last two weeks and move six-figure sums into four other races, according to Roll Call.

Democrats are suggesting that the committee is stepping back because Poliquin isn’t terribly competitive in the district.

Marc Brumer, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the NRCC’s counterpart, said “Republicans are seeing the writing on the wall” that Mainers are rejecting Poliquin’s record, although it’s worth noting that the DCCC hasn’t announced plans to spend any money in Maine.

Republicans disagree, with Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen saying the NRCC declared victory over Cain by stepping back.

The truth is likely grayer. Polling has shown a close race in the 2nd District, with Poliquin leading in the largest of four polls conducted in the district so far.

Poliquin has also held fundraisers with top Republican names, including House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the NRCC. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California attended an event with Poliquin on Sunday in Norway.

The Republican is also in a favorable position financially: As of Sept. 30, he had $300,000 more left in his coffers than Cain. He also gave himself a $200,000 loan, and in a statement, NRCC spokesman Ian Prior cited “a significant resource advantage” for Poliquin “that will allow him to continue communicating” with voters.

“With our $1 million investment added to that, we are confident that Bruce has what it takes to win on November 4,” Prior said.

Maine Briefing 10.20.14: Republicans boost Cutler, HRC for Michaud & debate finale

Press Herald Politics -

* Dividing the opposition vote has been tried here before. It’s happening again.

The Maine Republican Party has begun spending money on mail advertising designed to boost independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. The mail piece that hit Portland and other markets shows Cutler, Democratic candidate Mike Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage on three issues that would likely resonate with progressive voters. Each issue is framed with seemingly Democratic vernacular – “gun control,” “pro-choice” and “managerial experience.” A mailer specifically targeting registered Republicans would likely use different language — “2nd Amendment rights,” “abortion,” “business experience.”

It’s no secret that LePage’s reelection partially hinges on a strong — but not too strong — Cutler performance. The question is, why do the mail piece now? Also, what’s next?

The mailer drops as speculation continues over Cutler’s recent, limited spending on television advertising. I don’t have the market analysis, but the published FCC reports show the independent has run fewer spots airing compared to Michaud and LePage (He can certainly buy more in the closing weeks, however.). The campaign has dismissed Democrat-inspired speculation that Cutler is “going dark,” although, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t explained the strategy it’s deploying, either. Perhaps the campaign is waiting to see if its internal poll shows a pump from the televised debates.

So was the Republican mailer triggered by Cutler’s TV spending? Perhaps. After all, it seems a bit early, unless the idea is to disrupt Democrats’ early absentee voting drive. In any event, it’s doubtful the mailer will be Republicans’ last attempt to help Cutler. The race is deadlocked. There’s the likelihood of strategic voting. A late robocall? Something oriented around a poll?

We’ll see.

* The New York Times on Sunday published its takeout piece on the race. The story is likely familiar to Mainers following the contest. However, the Times was kind enough to offer this nugget about the pronunciation of Michaud:

“Mr. Michaud (whose name has been pronounced as both MeSHOW and MeSHOO; he has no preference) enjoys the support of national Democrats, unions and environmentalists.”


* Hillary Rodham Clinton will campaign for Michaud in Scarborough on Friday. Her visit will be followed by President Barack Obama the weekend before the election.

Both visits are obviously unity and profile events for Michaud. However, both visits dovetail with the Maine Democratic Party’s emphasis, and spending, on turning out voters. Clinton, a presumed 2016 presidential candidate, could help with women, a strength for Michaud according to recent polling, and a key demographic in the midterm election.

Obama’s visit has been panned by Republicans, who cite his declining popularity as a base motivator and a liability for Democrats.

* The Washington Post’s The Fix noted that gubernatorial elections could make history this year in its latest rankings (Maine is No. 3):

“Not since 1984 have more than six sitting governors lost in any one election. But, 30 years after that gubernatorial carnage, a look at this year’s races puts 11 incumbents in various levels of peril — suggesting that history may be in the making.”

* Cutler was endorsed by the Portsmouth Herald and the Seacoast Newspapers. The New Hampshire publishing company owns two papers in Maine, the York County Coast Star and the York Weekly.

* The final two gubernatorial debates will be held Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s debate at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland will be aired live by WGME-TV beginning at 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s debate will take place at WMTW’s Auburn studios at 7 p.m.


Does the debate matter?

Rebekah Metzler -

Is the race for the Blaine House over?

On the cusp of the second televised gubernatorial debate, some of the state’s top political hands say the die has been cast, thanks to a shoddy performance by Democrat Mike Michaud and a strong showing from Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

“LePage has been doing far better than people expected, Michaud a little worse, and [independent Eliot] Cutler exactly as everyone thought. Unless LePage says something horrible, I think the trajectory of this race is set,” said a Maine Republican political operative not working in the race.

The GOP hand says that means LePage is likely set-up for re-election.

Another experienced Republican political consultant agrees LePage is looking like the likely winner, but thinks Monday’s debate could still factor in.

“I would not overstate the importance, but it is a high profile event in a very close and rapidly approaching election,” he said.

“I thought that the last debate was very significant,” he added. “Mike had a bad night. There is a whisper campaign suggesting that he is not up to the job … That can really hurt him in the 1st District where he desperately needs left leaning independents to support him. The governor is running away with the 2nd District vote – another performance like the last one could start erosion for Mike in the south.”

But the Republican, who is not working the gubernatorial race, adds LePage’s long-time liability of running his mouth is always a potential landmine waiting to happen.

“The governor surprised many people with his command of the issues. If he focuses on the issues, he should do extremely well in the debate,” he said. “The wildcard, of course, is his unpredictability.”

But a Democratic campaign expert sees a strong finish for Michaud on the horizon.

“I actually think Mike is in a good position and Cutler supporters know there is only one candidate that can beat LePage,” he said.

The first GOP consultant agrees a slim chance remains for Michaud, depending on Cutler’s decision to stay in the race.

“The Cutler dynamic I think will need to change in order for Michaud to get back on his feet,” he said. “Eliot’s TV buy this week is [really light], which makes me think maybe there’s still a chance he gets out.”

Recent polling shows Michaud and LePage vying for the lead, with Cutler a distant third.

Update: This post was updated to properly couch an estimation of the Cutler campaign’s ad buy.

Barack, Michelle, Bill, now Hillary for Michaud

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit Scarborough Friday to personally endorse Mike Michaud’s bid for governor less than two weeks before the election.

As former first lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State and early front-runner to run for president in 2016, there probably aren’t any bigger-deal Democrats for Michaud to have on the campaign stump. If there are, maybe it’s former President Bill Clinton or First Lady Michelle Obama, who have already been to Maine for Michaud, or President Barack Obama, who is coming on Oct. 30.

The counter-effect of parading Democratic royalty through Maine is that it could rally entrenched Republicans to the polls.

Hillary will come to Scarborough High School, according to the Michaud campaign. Michaud, who gave up his 2nd Congressional District seat to run for governor, is locked in a tight race against incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

They and independent candidate Eliot Cutler are scheduled to appear Monday evening in the second televised debate of the campaign. The 7 p.m. debate, hosted by the Bangor Daily News and WGME, will be streamed live at bangordailynews.com.


Will Cutler “Apology-gate” come up in upcoming debates?

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Eliot Cutler and Mike Michaud at a candidates forum. October 10, 2014. Photo: Troy R. Bennett l BDN


That’s a tongue-in-cheek name for Cutler’s statements during and then after the first televised debate.

Debates mattered so much to independent candidate for Maine governor Eliot Cutler that he spent campaign money running ads about them.

But in the last televised debate, Eliot Cutler sounded somewhat rude, saying to Rep. Mike Michaud, “Listen to this, Mike, you’ll learn something.” 

As Bangor Daily News reporter Christopher Cousins noted, the perception has been that Cutler “came across as arrogant and maybe insulting” and “has done little to dispel the notion that he is smart but pompous and sometimes mean.”

But where’s the “-gate” part of “Apology-gate”?

The “Apologygate” comes from Cutler’s explanation of to whom he apologized and when.

1. In a television interview after the debate, Cutler said he apologized to his staff.

Why his staff? Likely because it was a sort of gaffe, since it reinforced perceptions of Cutler’s temperament, perceptions which are a weakness for his candidacy.

Temperament has mattered both because LePage has been known to say rather strong statements and to act whimsically or even erratically, while Michaud has a long history of being calm and collegial.

2. But here’s the key that makes this is a “gate.”

Cutler also said he didn’t apologize to Michaud because Michaud had left the stage too soon.

However, video shows that in fact Cutler and Michaud had some time together on the debate stage after the debate was over.

Is this a big deal? Unlikely.

However, it doesn’t help Cutler do what he needs to do and it adds another element to his image while reinforcing the image people already have of his temperament.

As everyone following this race, including, most recently, the New York Times, knows, splitting the anti-LePage vote provides LePage a path to victory.

At a time when the Republican party is spending money to boost Cutler, anything that holds Cutler’s vote back or decreases it, matters for the outcome of this race.

Republican Party begins spending to boost Cutler

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Governor Paul LePage slaps Eliot Cutler’s hand at a debate in Portland – Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Over the weekend, registered Democrats in the Portland area began receiving a strange flier from the Maine Republican Party in the mail. While ostensibly an attack piece against Congressman Mike Michaud, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, the mailer also provides positive information about independent candidate Eliot Cutler. Based on the content of the flier and its recipients, the mailing is clearly designed to promote Cutler’s candidacy at Michaud’s expense, to the ultimate benefit of Republican Governor Paul LePage.

LePage has previously said that Cutler being in the race was the best thing for his re-election and other Republicans have agreed. Republican Governor’s Association executive director Phil Cox laid out their calculus in January, saying: “If Cutler stays in that range [getting 15 to 20 percent of the vote], the governor has a very good chance of winning. If he drops below 15, it presents a more difficult pathway to victory.”

Poll aggregators currently peg Cutler’s support at right around 15 percent, far behind the two major-party candidates but potentially garnering enough support from progressive voters to improve LePage’s chances at re-election.

Planned Parenthood’s Maine Action Fund endorses Mike Michaud for governor at an event in Portland. – Troy R. Bennett | BDN

The mailer cites the Cutler for Maine website, praises Cutler for having “strong management experience” and highlights his progressive positions on gun safety laws and women’s rights. It provides more negative characterizations of Michaud on these issues, failing to note that he holds the same position on gun background checks as the independent candidate and was endorsed over Cutler by both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood for his positions in support of women’s rights.

Maine Republican Party mailer

All voters who have reported receiving the mailer so far are either women or young people who are registered Democrats in the Portland area, not demographics that the Republican Party would normally target with any kind of mail program.

The Republican Party expenditure comes as Cutler’s own campaign seems to be winding down. Despite having the ability (and, in the past, the willingness) to fund his campaign out of his own personal fortune, Cutler has decreased his spending on television advertising and is currently lagging far behind his opponents in the air war, prompting some to speculate that he may have realized he has little chance of winning the race.

In the 2012 U.S. Senate race, the Maine Republican Party and conservative super PACs tried a similar tactic, sending mail and running advertising designed to boost Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill at the expense of independent candidate Angus King, the frontrunner for the seat. The ploy was ultimately unsuccessful and King won the election with 53% of the vote.

Cook Political Report changes forecast of CD2 election from “leans Democratic” to “toss up”

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -


Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain (left) listens as Republican former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin makes a comment about her during the 2nd Congressional District debate on Tuesday at the CBS 13 television studios in Portland. BDN photo by Troy Bennett

The Cook Political Report, which analyzes federal and gubernatorial elections, is now calling Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race a toss up. A week ago, the newsletter still had the race leaning in the Democrats’ favor, but said at the time that it was “on the brink of joining the Toss Up column.”

Here’s political analyst David Wasserman’s take on the race, which was sent to me by Ian Prior, an NRCC press secretary.

Most Democrats thought this race would be put to bed by now. After all, Republicans nominated a two-time losing statewide candidate with an investment banking background and ties to polarizing Gov. Paul LePage. And, Democrats nominated a young, energetic female state legislator who had earned strong support from EMILY’s List.

Yet both GOP former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain began the fall very poorly defined, and the NRCC and Poliquin have taken advantage of an opening while the DCCC has sat out. Meanwhile, some Cain backers complain she comes across better in person than she does in her ads. As a result, a slew of public and private polls depicts a very tight race.

Last week, EMILY’s List’s Women Vote! campaign arm took to the airwaves to hit Poliquin as a “Wall Street Dealmaker,” and Democrats’ House Majority PAC will play here too. Also benefiting Cain is the presence of a Tea Party-minded Independent, Blaine Richardson, on the fall ballot. Cain may regain her edge when Democratic voters “come home,” but for now this race joins the Toss Up column.

Rep. Lockman’s rape comments at issue in House race

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Mailers sent by the Maine Democratic Party to voters in House District 137 take issue with Republican State Representative Larry Lockman’s history of controversial statements and actions, in particular his 1990 comments comparing abortion to rape.

MDP mailer – front

“If a woman has the right to abortion, why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t in most cases result in anyone’s death,” Is the quote highlighted in the mail piece, a statement attributed to Lockman in a 1995 letter to the Lewiston Sun Journal.

MDP mailer – back

“Maine has zero tolerance for such hateful, vicious and offensive comments directed at women or any other demographic,” said Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant when asked about the mailers. “We hope Rep. Lockman’s constituents send a message loud and a clear on Election Day that this type of hate speech has no place in Maine, and that he has no business representing anyone in Augusta.”

This quote on rape was one of a series of extreme statements made over the years by Lockman that I wrote about on this blog in February. He also, for instance, spent a decade railing against the “illegal” IRS and refusing to pay his federal and state income taxes and has leveled a number of slurs against AIDS sufferers and gays and lesbians.

When theses offensive statements came to light earlier this year, the Maine Democratic Party called for Rep. Lockman’s resignation. Lockman refused, and declined to even apologize for his remarks or clarify his views, stating only that “I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret.”

Republican leaders similarly refused to condemn the statements or criticize Lockman. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette would say only that he did “not condone these or any statements that are intentionally hurtful toward others on account of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Lockman’s remarks, and in particular the comments on rape, received a great deal of national attention and condemnation, everywhere from the Chicago Tribune to Cosmo, as he became another symbol of the Republican Party’s difficulty in appealing female voters.

This controversy has not kept Lockman from being a spokesperson for his party. He has recently written several pieces for the Maine Heritage Policy Center’s website, The Maine Wire, promoting his Party and attacking Democrats in the legislature, and this week he wrote an op-ed for the Bangor Daily News making a case for the election of himself and his fellow Republicans.

It also hasn’t prevented Lockman from receiving the support of the Republican establishment in his own campaign for re-election. He reports contributions from the House Republican Majority Fund, from fellow GOP legislators including Representatives Dennis Keschl, Mel Newendyke and Anita Peavey-Haskell, and from Second Congressional District Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin has given personal contributions to Lockman twice since his offensive statements became public knowledge.

Lockman, who is in his first term in the legislature, faces a tough challenge for re-election from Democratic candidate Oscar Emerson, a small business owner and longtime chair of the Bradley Town council, who would be a strong contender for the seat even without Lockman’s self-inflicted political injuries.

In 2nd CD2 debate, candidates trade personal and policy attacks

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

From left to right: 2nd Congressional District candidates Emily Cain, D-Orono; Blaine Richardson, I-Belfast; and Bruce Poliquin, R-Oakland. BDN file photos by Brian Feulner, Chris Cousins and Robert F. Bukaty.

Some of the negative campaign ads that voters in the 2nd Congressional District have been treated to over the past few weeks came to life at an MPBN debate on Thursday night, particularly when candidates were asked to direct questions at their opponents.

Emily Cain, the Democratic candidate from Orono, asked Republican Bruce Poliquin to explain why he “bent the rules and used tax loopholes” on his oceanfront property in Georgetown, allegations she’s made in attack ads against him. She is referring to reports that Poliquin enrolled his property in Maine’s Tree Growth Tax Program, which gives “significant tax breaks to landowners in exchange for sustainable, commercial timber harvesting,” according to a story by Steve Mistler in 2012. However, there were restrictions on the property that prohibited any tree-cutting.  

But Poliquin said he’s paid thousands of dollars of taxes on his property and turned the question of taxes back on Cain.  He tried to call her out on statements she’s made that she helped negotiate $4 billion in tax cuts, saying that though she voted to pass a bill (in 2011) that cut taxes, she said at the time that she hated the cuts.

Cain said, as she has in the past, that even though she and her party were firmly against the tax cuts, she stands by her vote on that budget. Whether she can take credit for those tax cuts is a good question.

“The difference between Bruce and I is that I was there,” she said referring to negotiations around the budget.

Many of the other points made by the candidates have come up before. Poliquin tried to paint Cain as a career politician, while Cain said she is a public servant. Cain would invest in renewable energy, Poliquin simply says we should “increase energy production.” Blaine Richardson, the independent candidate, was largely left out of the cross fire. Most of his answers somehow related to reducing the size of the federal government.

In an interesting moment, the candidates were asked about the Ebola virus.

All three used a tactic that candidates across the country are tapping into. They said the Obama administration has not done enough to address the virus, which has infected three people, and expressed a great deal of fear of Ebola. Cain even said flights to the United States from the countries where Ebola is rampant should be canceled.

There was a good segment on NPR this morning about the use of this issue in the elections this year.

Like Thom Tillis, who is running for Senate in North Carolina, Poliquin tried to link Ebola to boarder control, saying in his response that Cain is in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants. 

He’s referring to Cain’s support of the DREAM Act, which gives residency to law-abiding immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and have joined the military or gone to college.

Throughout the debate, Poliquin pivoted from answering the questions to attacking Cain, as he had done during the debate on Tuesday. Cain took some stabs herself, but was largely on the defensive.

Many people in the district I’ve spoken with have said they’re turned off by the negative campaigning, but someone clearly still thinks it works.




Outside groups sling mud at Cain, Poliquin

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Political action committees trying to sway second district voters have spent the vast majority of their cash on attack ads seeking to take down either Democratic Congressional hopeful Emily Cain or Republican Bruce Poliquin.

That is, $9 of every $10 that PACs directed at Cain were attack ads; and about $9.60 of every $10 that PACs directed at Poliquin were negative.

The picture of independent spending through Oct. 14 complements the latest batch of reports on the finances of each candidate’s campaign, updated by a midnight deadline and covering up through Sept. 30.

Those reports show spending and fundraising in the hotly contested second district race dwarfs activity in the 1st district, where incumbent Chellie Pingree has little to worry about.

It also shows PAC spending in the 2nd District is dominated by five groups, including the National Republican Congressional Committee, which has pledged $1.5 million in television ads for Poliquin.

With the release of the latest campaign finance report, I put together a high-level overview of the candidate’s cash position as of Sept. 30. More detailed information about what candidates spent their money on and the makeup of specific contributors will come with digital submissions from the candidates.

And reports due by the campaigns late next week will detail their cash position up through Oct. 15.

A coalition of republicans announces support for Emily Cain

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Emily Cain’s campaign announced on Thursday that a group of Maine Republicans have come out in support of the Democratic state senator who is running to represent  Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. For the most part, there are no huge surprises on the list, with a number of supporters coming from Cain’s hometown, Orono, and others who have supported Democrats in the past.

They are:

- Sen. Patrick Flood of Winthrop. Flood is not seeking reelection, therefore he does not run the risk of loosing some points for his support of a Democrat for Congress. In the statement sent out by Cain’s campaign on Thursday, Flood said, “I worked with Emily at the State House for ten years; six of them while serving together with her on the Appropriations Committee. She is a talented, innovative, and energetic leader with the unique ability to cut through complex issues to find real solutions.”

- Retired Maj. Gen. John “Bill” Libby of Sidney. Libby was the commissioner of the state Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management and head off the Maine National Guard. He retired in 2012, according to our past stories. He said, “I had the opportunity to observe Emily’s work in the Legislature during my tenure as the Commissioner of the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management and while we do not always share the same opinion on issues, I am supporting her because she, in the words of John F. Kennedy, ‘doesn’t seek the Democratic answer or the Republican answer but the right answer.’”

Sherry Huber of Falmouth. Huber is a former state legislator who currently works as executive director of the Maine TREE Foundation. Her late husband, David Huber, was vice president of the J.M. Huber Corp., a global consumer and industrial products company. In 2008, Huber wrote an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News, endorsing Barack Obama. 

With these endorsements, along with the endorsement from independent Sen. Angus King, Cain is seeking to bolster her position as the candidate who will work across the aisle to get work done. She continues to try to present Bruce Poliquin, her Republican opponent, as an extreme ideologue.

The other Republicans who endorsed Cain are:

Howard Trotzky of Bangor

Norman Minsky of Bangor

John Bradford of Orland

Ted and Rose Marie Curtis of Orono

Mark Pellon of Bangor

Miles Theeman of Bangor

Arthur and Betty Comstock of Orono

Allen Bancroft of South Paris

Phyllis Hunter of Caribou

Susan Willey McKay of Bangor

No Labels founder, a former Republican, to campaign for Cutler

Press Herald Politics -

Mark McKinnon, a former Republican strategist for George W. Bush and John McCain and co-founder of the national group No Labels, will campaign on Friday for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler.

McKinnon will be the featured guest and speaker at a “Republicans for Eliot” event at DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant in Portland.

“There are few people in the country who have fought as hard for political reform as Eliot Cutler,” McKinnon said in a statement provided by Cutler’s campaign. “Voters in Maine and all across America are sick of partisan politics, and I’m excited about Eliot’s campaign because he is such a great example of a someone who is passionate about reform and is using the political process to do right by the people of Maine.”

Cutler himself is a founding member of No Labels, a national nonprofit that formed in 2010 as a way to steer politics away from the extremes and toward problem solving. The group has attracted support from centrist Democrats and Republicans and independents, including U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine.

No Labels also was affiliated with Americans Elect, an unsuccessful effort in 2012 to elect, through an online primary, a third party president or a presidential ticket that featured one Democrat and one Republican.

During his 2014 campaign, Cutler has talked often about the stranglehold of partisan politics.

“I am honored to have Mark McKinnon’s support in my campaign for Governor,” Cutler said. “I have long admired his work at the national level to break down the barriers of partisanship, gridlock and special interests. He inspires voters to reject politics as usual and will help us continue a storied tradition of independence in the state of Maine.”

Poliquin gives himself a loan, and other filing tidbits in pricey 2nd District

Press Herald Politics -

Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Poliquin recently gave his campaign a big loan, but he’s running a much leaner operation than Democrat Emily Cain.

Financial filings for 2014′s third quarter were due to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday. While Cain outraised Poliquin, he had nearly $300,000 more in his coffers — $702,000 to her $409,000 — as of Sept. 30.

With nearly three weeks remaining in the campaign, the candidates have raised more than $3 million, more than any two House opponents in Maine since 2000 and probably ever, according to data going back 14 years from the Center for Responsive Politics.

But a large chunk of Poliquin’s haul came from his own pockets: The former state treasurer loaned his campaign $200,000 during the filing period, on top of the $127,000 he kicked in earlier in the campaign. The wealthy businessman has also given himself large sums of money in past bids for statewide office.

However, his campaign is frugal, which partially explains his cash-on-hand lead. During the latest fundraising period, Poliquin spent $209,000 compared to Cain’s $516,000. He pays a smaller cadre of consultants and staffers, keeping administrative costs lower.

On the other side of the ledger, Cain’s donor pool is far bigger: In this reporting period, she drew 1,490 contributions to Poliquin’s 565.

Cain got $250,000 from political action committees and outside groups, and Poliquin received $216,000. Unions led her roster of PAC donors, and notable names included Cain endorser U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and his wife, Mary Herman ($2,500), Sydney Roberts Rockefeller, a Seal Harbor artist who married into the famous family ($2,250) and a PAC linked to the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida ($2,500).

Bankers and the National Rifle Association were notable among Poliquin’s PAC contributors. He also got $14,000 from House Speaker John Boehner’s leadership PAC and campaign committee, plus $250 from Shawn Moody, a Gorham businessman who ran for governor as an independent in 2010.

Many Democrats will attribute Poliquin’s pile of cash on hand to the loan he gave himself, but there are clearly other factors. That creates some complications. For example, Cain buys television ad purchases week to week, while Poliquin has bought time through Nov. 4.

All that likely puts Cain under some financial pressure as polls show a tight race getting increasing attention from national interest groups that have already chipped in nearly $3 million themselves for ads. Those factors mean it’ll be an expensive sprint to Nov. 4.

In debate, LePage misses reality of his MaineCare vetoes

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -


Gov. LePage and Rep. Michaud at October 15, 2014 debate. Photo credit: Troy R. Bennett l BDN

In last night’s governor’s debate, Rep. Mike Michaud used his one chance to ask another candidate a question to say to Gov. Paul LePage, “Governor, someone is watching us right now, is going without life-changing medication because of your five vetoes. Would you be able to look into the camera and tell those people why they were too costly to care [for]?”

In responding, LePage incorrectly claimed that his vetoes didn’t stop anyone from getting health coverage.

LePage said that people who wouldn’t be getting MaineCare because of his vetoes could all get subsidized private insurance through the exchange.

That’s not true.

LePage’s five vetoes not only meant that some can’t gain coverage, but his choices also led to some losing health insurance.

As Kaiser Health News reported about a Northport woman:

By the time Laura Tasheiko discovered the lump in her left breast, it was larger than a grape. Tasheiko, 61, an artist who makes a living selling oil paintings of Maine’s snowy woods, lighthouses and rocky coastline, was terrified: She had no health insurance and little cash to spare. . .

[W]hile much of America saw an expansion of coverage this year, low-income Maine residents like Tasheiko lost benefits. On Jan. 1, just as the Affordable Care Act was being rolled out nationwide, MaineCare terminated her coverage, leaving her and thousands of others without insurance. . .

“It’s nerve-wracking,” said Tasheiko, who like many working poor in this rugged state makes ends meet by raising laying hens, heating her home with a woodstove and eating and canning vegetables she raises in her garden. “Cancer doesn’t just stop — it’s not over. But my health coverage is over.” [source]

There are real human consequences to LePage’s actions that he either doesn’t know about or isn’t acknowledging.


Follow this link for an explainer on the coverage gap that, due to the MaineCare vetoes, leaves thousands of low-income working people without health insurance.

All three candidates score victories, endure defeats in first televised debate

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Candidates for governor (from left) independent Eliot Cutler, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage greet each other on stage before a televised debate in Augusta on Wednesday night. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

For the minority of Mainers who pay close attention state politics, Wednesday’s first televised debate in the gubernatorial race was full of familiar talking points as well as returns to campaign strategies that have been developing for months.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage and independent candidate Eliot Cutler, both of whom will benefit if Mike Michaud’s supporters start abandoning him, launched a series of withering attacks that kept the Democrat, who has been the slight front-runner for most of the campaign, mostly on defense. For Michaud, Wednesday’s forum, sponsored by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, became an attempt at survival in a game where he was outnumbered and, when it came to oration, outgunned. Here are a few takeaways:

  • LePage was clearly on his game. Debates and public appearances have for the most part been his strength, earning him a reputation as one of the most effective retail politicians in recent Maine history. When moderator Pat Callahan of WCSH asked about what is seen by most as a combative, veto-strewn first term of working with the Legislature, LePage said 80 percent of the bills that came to his desk went into law and that “when you try to get me to do bad public policy, it goes in the trash.” He deflected attacks from Cutler over his failed involvement in bringing Cate Street Capitol in to run the Great Northern Paper Co. in East Millinocket by admitting that the deal went sour and saying that his administration is “investigating the whole thing in Millinocket, going back several years.” When Michaud asked about his opposition to expanding Medicaid. LePage said the better solution to providing health coverage to the poor is bringing economic prosperity to Maine — by lowering energy costs and barring labor unions from requiring dues from workers – so people can afford to buy private policies on federal health care exchanges. That was a departure from Republicans’ well-worn arguments that expansion is simply too expensive and that the ACA should be repealed. LePage also said during a lightning round question that he would support background checks for private gun sales if that law were enacted by referendum.
  • Cutler was on the attack. He had no choice if he is to have any chance at turning his campaign, which is lagging some 20 percentage points behind Michaud and LePage in the polls, toward victory in the less than three weeks before election day. He had some of the most memorable lines of the night, such as when he jabbed Michaud’s accomplishments by saying “Mike, I’m glad I don’t have your record,” to which LePage clapped and bellowed “me too.” Cutler also painted Michaud as a flip-flopper who early in his career voted numerous times against abortion and equality rights for gay and lesbian people, which is a sore spot for Cutler because of a string of endorsements that have gone to Michaud from Equality Maine, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign. Cutler, who has spent most of his campaign talking about his policy proposals and ideas, did little of that Wednesday night as he sought to create doubt around his opponents. After so long accentuating the positive, that shift could seem to some voters as too negative and perhaps arrogant or disrespectful, such as when he said to Michaud, “Listen to this, Mike. You’ll learn something.”
  • Michaud was bruised but maintained his poise. He started the debate with a sort of apology — “I’m not the most entertaining orator. I’m more of a listener and a problem-solver” — and portrayed himself as a collaborator who unlike LePage, would work with both Democrats and Republicans. He deflected Cutler’s attack about his changing stance on abortion and equal rights with a non-apologetic explanation of how his opinions changed with the times (“Yes, I have evolved on that issue. But what is wrong with evolving?”) and several times hit LePage for not working more effectively with the Legislature. To a question about how to keep a major Ebola outbreak from coming to the United States, Michaud said expanding access to medical coverage is a crucial step because “the virus doesn’t pick and choose who is infected and our health care shouldn’t pick and choose who we care for.” A weak moment for Michaud was when LePage asked whether the Maine Democratic Party had courted Cutler to run as a Democrat before Michaud announced his candidacy last year. Michaud said “I am the Democratic nominee,” but LePage had already labeled him as a 2nd choice. Michaud, as he himself pointed out, tripped over words and stuttered at times, but overall maintained composure in the face of the attacks from his opponents. When asked how Maine can best create jobs, his answer was “fire Gov. LePage.”

Many in the audience agreed that it was a rough night for Michaud, that Cutler landed major blows on both of the other candidates and that LePage’s defense of his first term was impassioned in a way that would resonate with his supporters. The major question is whether television viewers saw the same dynamics as those who witnessed the debate in person. After all, body language and facial expressions caught in camera close-ups often create more vivid impressions than what a person is actually saying. That sort of thing has swayed elections before.


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