Roundup: Maine politics for when you’re done shoveling snow

Frank Coglitore clears snow on Dec. 15 in front of Cigar Shop on Main Street in Bangor. BDN photo by Terry Farren.

Frank Coglitore clears snow on Dec. 15 in front of Cigar Shop on Main Street in Bangor. BDN photo by Terry Farren.

This Maine politics round-up is part of an occasional feature here at State & Capitol to give readers some quick political news tidbits that didn’t merit a full story, but are still worth noting. In the past, this sort of thing would be called a “Reporter’s Notebook,” but that phrase seems a bit … outdated. 

Blaine House is No. 2 on WaPo list of seats likely to change party in 2014

That headline pretty much says it all. Washington Post reporters Sean Sullivan and Aaron Blake compiled a list of the 15 governorships most likely to change party next year. Our own Gov. Paul LePage, who was elected into office riding a Republican wave in 2010, is No. 2 on the list, second only to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania.

The writers cited the latest in a flurry of polls that showed the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, with a slight lead over the governor and Independent businessman Eliot Cutler. They write: “This race will continue to be close, despite LePage’s unpopularity, as long as it’s a three-way contest. We think Michaud eventually pulls more of Cutler’s supporters, though.”

Maine clergyman leads campaign to declassify CIA torture report

Yesterday, the Kansas City Star  published an Op-Ed by a local religious leader calling for the release of a report on the use of torture by the CIA which was adopted by the Senate Intelligence Committee last year. It capped a year-long effort by various clergy members calling for the reports release via Op-Eds published in every state.

The campaign was organized by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The group’s executive director is the Rev. Richard Killmer of Yarmouth, who called on Maine Sens. Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, to lead the charge in declassifying the report. (The Rev. Jill Saxby of Cape Elizabeth published an OpEd in the Bangor Daily News back in May.)

“The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report would provide important information that would help ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again,” Killmer said in a release. “We hope that op-eds written by local religious leaders in publications in all 50 states will demonstrate to the Senate Intelligence Committee the depth of the opposition to torture within the religious community and our community’s support for sharing the truth about torture by releasing the report to the public. It is particularly significant to me that support for release of this report comes from diverse segments of the religious community – including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and other people of faith.”

While the group was celebrating its effort to kickstart public dialogue across the nation, King and Collins signaled, via a joint statement, that the report will not be declassified any time soon.

“We look forward to carefully reviewing the most recent version of the report once the Intelligence Committee staff has finished making changes following extensive discussions between the Committee and the CIA intended to resolve factual discrepancies,” the Senators said. “Our primary goal is to ensure that the report remains a tool for meaningful oversight and that it does not become a political issue that can be used by either party. … We remain strongly opposed to the use of torture, believing that it is immoral and fundamentally undermines American values.”

Matthew Gagnon launches political consulting firm

Hampden native and UMaine graduate Matthew Gagnon, the Republican Governors Association’s chief digital strategist, recently launched Realign Tactical, a right-leaning Virginia-based political consulting firm that he said will also have a presence in Maine.

Gagnon — a former Collins staffer and deputy digital chief for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who also writes the Pine Tree Politics blog for the Bangor Daily News  — told me that the decision to start a formal outfit grew from the amount of consulting he’s already done independent of his job in Washington with the RGA.

“I’ve already done races in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maine, Virginia, Maryland and a bunch of other places,” Gagnon said. He also said he’s doing some digital and communications works for former state treasurer Bruce Poliquin’s effort to win the GOP’s nomination for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Gagnon said he hopes his firm will be established enough after the 2014 election that he could turn consulting into his full-time job.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.