Gov. Paul LePage dipped his toe in the endorsement game Monday with a nod to Isaac Misiuk, a Republican who is opposing Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the general election for the 1st Congressional District in southern Maine.
The Misiuk campaign funded the production of a more than one-minute online advertisement that features LePage urging voters to support him.
This marks LePage’s first foray this year in the endorsement race. The governor has declined to endorse a staunch ally, Bruce Poliquin, a former state treasurer in LePage’s first two years in office who is running against former Republican Senate President Kevin Raye in the 2nd Congressional District primary. Asked about that race during a campaign stop in Gray last week, LePage joked that he is still trying to decide between Democrats Emily Cain and Troy Jackson before making it clear he won’t publicly support Raye or Poliquin in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
Misiuk, a second-year political science student at University of Southern Maine who lives in Gorham, is a new face in Maine politics and as such, a lot will need to happen in his favor if he is to unseat the well-known Pingree, who has served in Congress since 2009 after spending eight years in the Maine Senate in the 1990s.
In the video, LePage spends more time talking about his own accomplishments than he does about Misiuk, including LePage’s hardscrabble upbringing, tax cuts he enacted in 2011, and his efforts to cut regulatory “red tape” and his work on welfare fraud.
“I am proud of the work I have been able to accomplish in our state,” says LePage, who doesn’t mention Misiuk until 28 seconds into the video.
“We can continue to move Maine forward but we must see change in Washington DC,” says LePage. “That is why I stand behind Isaac Misiuk in Maine’s 1st Congressional district. I know Isaac will work to shrink the size of our federal government, cut irresponsible spending, reduce our national debt and encourage job creation for a more prosperous economy for our kids and grandkids.”
The Misiuk campaign issued a press release about the video on Monday titled “Chellie Pingree’s Worst Nightmare.” Pingree has always been at political odds with LePage, including in recent weeks when she and LePage have traded barbs over the prospect of a National Guard unit leaving Maine, so I doubt that any opponent aligning himself with LePage will surprise Pingree.
Steinbeck’s son lends support to Troy Jackson
No one I’ve talked to disagrees that Troy Jackson sort of stole the show at the Democratic State Convention last week in Bangor with his emotional speech that centered around Jackson’s belief that Congress needs someone who is singularly focused on defending the rights of the middle class. Jackson is opposing Emily Cain, his long-time colleague in the Maine Senate, in tomorrow’s Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
John Steinbeck is a literary titan who gave us The Grapes of Wrath, a masterpiece about everyman Tom Joad’s struggle through the Great Depression. The author’s eldest son, Thomas Steinbeck, was forwarded a copy of Jackson’s convention speech by a supporter, along with a request for permission to use Steinbeck’s writings during his campaign.
“Thomas believes his father would have been proud to hear his words spoken by a man with as much integrity as Senator Troy Jackson,” wrote Gail Knight, a managing partner at the Palladin Group, who publish Steinbeck’s works, according to the Jackson campaign.
(UPDATE, 2 p.m. on June 9, 2014) Knight sent a message to reporters on Monday to clarify that Steinbeck’s acknowledgement of Jackson’s speech is in no way meant to be an endorsement for Jackson or against Cain.
“While I stand by my original comments regarding Mr. Jackson, Ms. Cain appears to be an intelligent and worthy opponent. … The final decision regarding the subtle nuances of each candidate’s opinions as the voice of the people of Maine, rests with the citizens of Maine,” said Thomas Steinbeck, according to Knight.
While the general consensus is that Jackson is somewhat of an underdog in the race, Campaign Manager Brian Lacey said Monday that there’s no doubt Jackson’s convention speech has given the campaign a major boost. Lacey said regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s primary, Jackson’s message could have positioned himself on a national stage.
“What we’ve started here, it’s probably the beginning of Troy’s conversation with working-class people across the nation,” said Lacey. “One of the reasons we started doing this is that over half of the members of Congress are millionaires. They just don’t understand what most folks are going through.”
Cain receives major teachers’ union endorsement
Cain, whose convention speech focused on a myriad of policy conversations ranging from women’s health rights to budget issues and political collaboration, has been piling up her own list of high-profile endorsements. On Friday, the Maine members of the American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, came out in favor of Cain’s candidacy.
“Emily is a true champion for those who educate our children, and understands that supporting Maine teachers and schools at all levels is keeping our society’s educational promise to Maine students for a chance at futures worth living,” said Mike Burke, president of AFT’s Local 4593.