November ballot question campaigns heating up; Kanye West for president in 2020

Good morning, folks. It’s Monday in Augusta (and everywhere else, too). 

I’ve been working for 30 seconds and I’ve already reported my first bit of news: which day of the week it is. In celebration, here’s some The Mamas & The Papas, which I was singing in the car this morning with my sons, just like we do most every Monday. (Yeah, we might have to come up with a new Monday anthem soon). 

OK, on to other things. 

Familiar faces, brand-new races

When it comes to campaign operatives in Maine, many efforts to sway votes in Maine lead back to a handful of political operatives. Two of the most familiar names, at least for reporters who have frequent one-on-one contact with politicos, are Dennis Bailey and David Farmer.

This is definitely inside baseball, but these guys go back years, Bailey to the administration of Gov. Angus King and Farmer to Gov. John Baldacci. Both are former newspaper reporters and, like I said, both have been involved in major statewide campaigns ranging from resisting the legalization of casinos (Bailey) to trying to put Mike Michaud in the Blaine House and legalizing same-sex marriage (Farmer).

Now, Bailey and Farmer are on opposite sides of the same question: an effort to change zoning regulations in Portland. Designed to protect some of the city’s most scenic vistas from development, including a proposal by Portland Co. for a major development of the city’s eastern waterfront. The referendum calls for additional restrictions on developers who seek zoning changes to accommodate their projects.

Bailey is working for Yes on 2; Farmer is working against it. The battle of the former gubernatorial aides will be settled Nov. 3.

Yes on 1 opens Bangor office, starting to look like a full-fledged campaign

Mainers for Accountable Elections, which for months has been building a political organization that hopes to usher Question 1 on the November ballot to victory, will open a campaign office today in Bangor.

Normally, someone opening an office isn’t especially newsworthy, but in this case it’s an indication that proponents of the question aren’t taking any chances. Though no organized opposition has materialized to speak of, I expect that it will before it’s time to vote.

Question 1 proposes a range of campaign finance reforms, including increasing public campaign financing for candidates; requiring special interest groups to list their top three donors on all political ads; ramping up penalties for violating campaign finance laws; and implementing new spending and contribution limits. The referendum also calls for the Legislature to find and cut some $6 million in corporate tax breaks to help finance the new law.

According to its July quarterly report to the Maine Ethics Commission, Mainers for Accountable Elections has already raised more than $300,000 and still had about $160,000 in the bank. In addition to opening offices and hiring staff, the group produced and released its first internet advertisement earlier this month.

Reading list

*Siiiiigh*: Kanye West for president

Regular readers of the Daily Brief have heard me complain before about political campaigns that start way too early. Now, rapper Kanye West, who won the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards, has announced that he is running for president — in 2020.

The announcement came after West said he smoked “a little something” … “to take the edge off.”

Smoking dope makes time seem to go by really, really slowly (so I’ve heard). The year 2020 seems like eons into the future and my head hurts just thinking about listening to someone campaign for that long. If Kanye’s going to stay high all the time, he’ll need an especially gifted campaign manager to keep himself and his supporters interested for the next five years.

Maybe Dennis Bailey or David Farmer? — Christopher Cousins


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.