Dench unfazed by concern over UMaine trustees nod, plus 7 stories you need to read

Susan Dench, a conservative activist and author from Falmouth, has been nominated to the UMaine System Board of Trustees, causing a least one Democratic lawmaker to raise questions about the views she’d expressed during her time as a blogger and columnist for the BDN.

wrote about that on Friday, but at that time was unable to get a hold of Dench for a comment. She responded via email on Saturday, after seeing my blog post, and seemed unfazed by the fact that she may face questions about some of her more divisive views.

While she didn’t address the specific criticisms raised by Rep. Matthea Daughtry, D-Brunswick, she shared a well-known quote from President Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”

It’s a little confusing of a reference, as in this case Dench’s critic, Daughtry, can certainly be said to be “in the arena” as an elected representative in the State House. Dench’s point seemed to be, more simply, that she wasn’t going to be moved or perturbed by critics.

Dench also said that she open to hearing all opinions.

“I enjoy talking with people whose ideas may differ from my own because it expands my mind and horizons,” she wrote. “As I said in my interview with Bill Nemitz and Cynthia Dill about our friendship, I admire anyone, no matter where they stand, who puts themselves “in the arena.” It’s easy to criticize, not so easy to act on your principles.”

The Education Committee will hold a hearing on Dench’s nomination, as well as two others, on Sept. 26.

Another poll shows LePage, Michaud in tight race

Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina pollster that works mostly for Democrats and liberal groups, released the results this weekend of a poll conducted in Maine last week.

The results, like all the polls released so far this campaign season, showed Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in a statistical dead heat, with Michaud leading LePage 43-42. The gap between the two, as it has been in most polls so far, falls within the poll’s margin of error.

Eliot Cutler, the independent in race, was polling at 11 percent. Tom Jensen, PPP’s director, said that was the lowest Cutler had performed in a PPP survey since it began polling the 2014 race in January 2013.

The poll surveyed 1,059 likely voters last Monday and Tuesday, and had a margin of error of 3 percent. The poll was paid for by Maine Conservation Voters, which endorsed Michaud in November’s election.

Lest we forget …

There’s bonds on the ballot this November, too! A coalition of people supporting Question 6 — a $10 million bond for water infrastructure improvements — assembled in Falmouth today to kick off their campaign. The BDN will be rolling out its coverage of each of the six bonds in the coming weeks.

7 stories you need to read

Looking to keep up with #mepolitics, but don’t have the time to spend all day reading newspaper websites? Here’s a list of last week’s top stories.

  • It was a week when secret recordings dominated the news cycle: First, a video of state Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, criticizing Michaud’s smarts and voicing apparent support for Cutler. Then it was the surreptitious recording by a the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank, of a strategy call held by about a dozen immigrants’ rights advocates. MHPC said those groups violated federal law barring some of them from electioneering. The groups said MHPC broke the state’s wiretapping law by recording the call. Some wonder whether all this secret recordings will damage the relationship between elected officials and the public.
  • Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows lashed out at her Republican opponent, incumbent Susan Collins, for not supporting an amendment to the U.S. constitution that seeks to limit the role of big money in politics. However, Bellows undermined her own message during a news conference by seemingly not knowing all the content of the amendment.
  • Speaking of big money in politics, Outside groups have already spent more than $2.2 million this election cycle here in the Pine Tree State.
  • Michaud and Cutler shared a stage for the first time last week at a conference in Portland billed as a chance for all three gubernatorial candidates to outline their energy policies. LePage, however, ducked out at the last minute, saying a format that had the candidates on stage together was never agreed upon.
  • Getting out of the elections and back to policy, lawmakers last week applauded the release of a study that concludes Maine can handle two more casinos — that would make four, total — before the betting houses would begin to eat into each others’ profits: one Downeast, and one in Southern Maine.
  • Three months into a new state liquor sales scheme intended to make the state hundreds of millions in alcohol sales, state officials are questioning whether the plan will actually work. If it doesn’t, it means the taxpayers could be on the hook for bills scheduled to be paid by increased liquor revenue.
  • The CEO of the Humane Society of the United States — the national group leading the charge to ban bear baiting in Maine at the ballot box this November — trekked to Bangor this weekend to go door-to-door with his message.
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.