LePage offers Stephen King a deal: ‘Make me the villain of your next book’

Good morning from Augusta, legislative committees are continuing to plow through the thousands of bills on docket this session.

Normally we outline some bills to watch, but we’ve got so much stuff for you in the Daily Brief today that I’m going to leave you to your own devices with a link to the public hearings and work sessions calendar so we can get right into it.

We hope you have a great weekend. — Mario Moretto.

Don’t forget to sign up to receive the Daily Brief in your inbox every weekday morning.

In Connecticut, LePage has a new offer for Stephen King

Gov. Paul LePage was in Bristol, Connecticut, last night for the local GOP committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, a $50-per-person fundraiser for the party.

During the event, LePage touched on his recent flap with Stephen King. In case you somehow missed it, LePage wrongly said that King had left Maine to avoid paying income taxes.

King owns property in Florida but still claims residency and votes in Bangor, a fact the best-selling horror writer was quick to point out to the governor. LePage’s staff quickly corrected the radio address that included the false statement, and King has demanded LePage apologize for lying about him, but the governor has so far refused.

In Connecticut, LePage said he’d offer King something else. And it might actually be even better.

“Just make me the villain of your next book and I won’t charge you royalties,” LePage offered King, according to The Bristol Press.

Other than the King jab, the Press reports LePage touched on themes familiar in Maine, stumping for the elimination of the income tax and for the reduction of energy costs. He said those measures could make all of New England competitive, not just Maine.

But the most interesting thing in LePage’s speech was the governor’s comments on why he’s successful. The secret, he said, is fighting your policy battles in the public, rather than in the press or the Legislature. Here’s a passage from The Bristol Press reporter Steve Collins:

LePage, who won reelection last year, said he is successful in Maine because he doesn’t take the normal political channels to get things done.

“What you do is you bring everything to the streets,” he said, and get the public to back it.

He said he’s traveled around Maine more since the last election than he did during the campaign, holding a few town meetings every week, to round up support for his proposals.

It’s interesting, though not entirely new, to hear the governor speak so candidly about how he gets things done.

Remember when he told the BDN that it’s OK if the divided Legislature doesn’t pass his income tax cuts, because it will help Republicans in 2016? In Bristol, the governor further showed that he’s working the public with an eye toward that year’s elections. He told the crowd that his plan to have Maine join a constitutional convention for a balanced budget amendment will have better odds that year than it will now. — Mario Moretto.

Apparently some Democrats want constitutional convention too

It’s easy to fall into shorthand in this job. Like yesterday, when I said that Republicans were supporting calls for a new constitutional convention to pass amendments that Congress is unwilling to enact.

While party officials and leaders have come out swinging against the proposal, they apparently don’t speak for all the party. Maine Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, came into my office yesterday afternoon to make sure I knew that there were plenty of Democrats who also want a constitutional convention to be held — but for different reasons.

“I’m not in favor of the balanced budget amendment, I want to be clear about that,” Russell said. “I’m in it for campaign finance reform.”

Russell said she and a bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives have been working to craft a bill that, like LePage’s, would have Maine join the call of a new constitutional convention. She says efforts to repeal Citizens United, progressives’ proverbial white whale, or establish congressional term limits, a long-sought after goal for Republicans, are destined to fail in Congress.

“Congress is fundamentally broken,” Russell said. “They’re not in a position to fix anything, and the founders gave us a pragmatic tool, written into the constitution just for these circumstances. There are people who believe Citizens United should be overturned, I happen to be one of them. It is never going to happen without a convention of states.”

A quick reminder of the messenger: Russell is already known as a Democrat who’s more than willing to buck her party. She’s currently leading an effort for ranked-choice voting — a referendum party officials are unlikely to support. — Mario Moretto.

Reading list

2016 hopeful Kasich jabs Hilary at LePage press conference

During a joint press conference with Gov. Paul LePage yesterday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, continued to demure on whether he’d make an expected run for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016.

But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t going to come out swinging against Hilary Clinton, the former U.S. senator, secretary of state and first lady, and the likely Democratic nominee.

Kasich called on Clinton to support his balanced budget amendment, saying that “every presidential candidate ought to be talking about this, and every presidential candidate ought to be for it, including Hilary Clinton.”

And, with the last comment from either governor, Kasich took a jab at Clinton’s recent secret-emails controversy. LePage had just finished discussing — sort of — the recently released emails that led to the firing of Brig. Gen. James Campbell, LePage’s chief of the Maine National Guard.

“There’s one more thing to say about this, and I have not asked the governor this, but I would assume he does not have a server in his own home with secret emails on them,” Kasich said. — Mario Moretto.

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.