Roundup: As Maine Goes is back and so is Poliquin’s self-financed campaign machine

As Maine Goes, the go-to website and online forum for Maine conservatives since the late ’90s, is back online under new ownership after going dark a month ago.

New owner Lance Dutson, a political consultant and former CEO of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, bought the site last week and re-launched it this weekend, promising to maintain the vitality of the website, which under previous ownership became part of the daily routine for those interested in the Maine’s grassroots conservative movement.

“When this site shut down a few weeks ago, there was a gaping hole left in the political world in Maine,” Dutson wrote in a post on the site. “For 16 years, AMG has been the center of political debate in this state. AMG’s community has grown strong, and the impact of the deep level of civic engagement AMG’s community has been unmistakable, especially in the last four years. After watching the site go dark, it became clear to me that losing this valuable resource was not an option.”

In the same post, Dutson said he would continue to allow AMG’s users to remain anonymous, and promised to protect that anonymity and maintain lifetime bans on anyone who doxed another user.

Dutson took over for AMG co-founder Scott Fish, a longtime Republican activist who devoted little attention to the site after taking a job under then Senate President Kevin Raye in 2010. He’s now a spokesman for the state’s Department of Corrections. Fish told State & Capitol last month that he had been told to distance himself from AMG.

AMG’s re-launch is not Dutson’s first venture into the media landscape: During his roughly one-year stint leading the MHPC, he founded The Maine Wire, that group’s media arm. Dutson left the conservative think-tank in 2012 to manage Charlie Summers’ campaign for the U.S. Senate, which was won by Angus King.

With the return of AMG, you can count on renewed activity by asmainegoeslolz!, a blog on Tumblr dedicated to poking fun at the forum.

Poliquin takes lead in fundraising, but a lot of the cash is still his own

Former state treasurer Bruce Poliquin raised $148,000 for his 2nd Congressional District campaign in the last three months of 2013, according to the candidate, bringing total campaign contributions since Labor Day to nearly $370,000.

That figure trumps the roughly $300,000 total announced by Democratic candidate Emily Cain, a state senator from Orono. And while that means Poliquin has more on hand than Cain, it shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as evidence of more excited base of support.

That’s because, as in previous campaigns, a big chunk of that figure came from Poliquin himself, a successful businessman who self-donated $52,000 in Q3 and about $50,000 in the most recent filing period, bringing his total personal contribution to about $100,000 — a little more than a quarter of the total.

Candidates giving to their own campaigns is not uncommon, but most in Maine don’t have the personal wealth to give as much as Poliquin has. Factoring in his last two bids for high office — his gubernatorial effort in 2010 and his U.S. Senate run in 2012 — the candidate has financed 40 percent of his near-constant four-year campaign, to the tune of roughly $717,000, according to state and federal campaign finance reports.

Most of that came in 2010, when he ran in a crowded Republican primary and spent more than half a million dollars of his own money to eventually come in sixth place, out of seven.

On Monday, Poliquin’s 2014 campaign manager, Matt Hutson, acknowledged the candidate contributions, but said it shouldn’t detract from Poliquin’s support on the ground.

“A lot of folks will look at that and say, ‘Well, that’s a lot of money,’ but when you compare it with what folks are giving, it’s not,” Hutson said. “Our supporters are looking at jobs and the economy, and looking at Bruce, and saying ‘here’s a guy who can fix it.’”

Campaign finance reports for the end of 2013 are not due until the end of this month. The only other CD2 candidate to publicize her Q4 earnings was state Cain, who raised nearly $158,000.

Also competing in primaries are Democrats Alden Smith of Sangerville and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. Poliquin’s opponent in the Republican primary is former Senate President Kevin Raye of Perry.

Mike Michaud fights Pacific trade agreement

He might be running for governor in 2014, but Democrat Mike Michaud is still a sitting U.S. congressman. In that role, he’s been increasingly vocal lately in his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement that’s been in the works for years.

Michaud, a union member and longtime opponent of lax trade agreements, has spoken twice in recent weeks with liberal commentator Ed Schultz to oppose the fast-tracking of the trade deal, which would allow the U.S. to sign on tot he agreement with reduced Legislative oversight.

You can see the two-part video clip of Michaud on Schultz’s MSNBC show here and here, and listen to a radio interview with the same host here.

Shenna Bellows featured in Politico

The beltway politics site Politico on Sunday featured Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows in a piece about candidates on both sides of the aisle running on an anti-NSA spying platform. Bellows is trying to unseat popular Republican incumbent Susan Collins, who has served Maine in the Senate since 1997.

Why is Maine so white?

I couldn’t tell you, but I know you guys love maps, so here’s this.

It’s a map showing what what comes up if you type “Why is [state] so” into Google and let the search engine fill in the rest. We all know that Maine is pretty darn white, so the search result isn’t too surprising.

Twitter map white

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.