The first organized opposition to Question 1, the election reform referendum on the 2015 ballot, has emerged on a Facebook page put up on Monday.
The question is being supported by Mainers for Accountable Elections, a coalition of liberal, religious and labor groups that have been campaigning since July to strengthen state campaign finance and election laws.
Maine’s Clean Election laws, which give public money to qualifying candidates in an attempt to even the playing field between them and privately funded candidates, have been weakened in recent years. Some Republicans have criticized the system, including Gov. Paul LePage, who has called it “welfare for politicians” and tried to defund it.
Question 1 would make a host of changes to the law: It would increase Clean Election funding from $2 million to $3 million and increase disclosure requirements and penalties for election law violations, funding it by directing the Maine Legislature to eliminate $6 million in corporate tax breaks.
Now, the group is running into opposition: On Tuesday, Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, who helped start the Facebook page, went on WVOM to say the effort is “nothing but a scam” and “an assault on the Maine people who want a citizen legislator to represent them.”
The group hasn’t shown up on the Maine Ethics Commission’s list of ballot committees that can raise money to support or oppose the effort, but it looks like they’ll be taking the lead on it. Stay tuned. — Michael Shepherd
Fiorina to pick up Maine endorsements on Wednesday
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who rose to second place in the field in a CNN poll after what many saw as a strong debate performance last week against frontrunner Donald Trump, will announce a handful of endorsements in Maine today.
She’s no stranger to Maine: Fiorina addressed a luncheon held by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center earlier this month and she has already been endorsed by state Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough.
On Tuesday, the National Review reported that the main super PAC supporting Fiorina will announce today that former U.S. Rep. David Emery and Matt Jacobson, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate who now runs the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, will co-chair the effort to support her in Maine.
The National Review also said Fiorina has been endorsed by Susan Dench, a conservative activist and former BDN blogger, and Republican state Reps. Wayne Parry of Arundel, Deb Sanderson of Chelsea, and Heather Sirocki of Scarborough.
No Republican candidate has emerged as a clear frontrunner in Maine yet, so we’ll see if this helps put Fiorina over the top here. — Michael Shepherd
- LePage: Tap liquor revenues to cut income tax, drug-test more welfare recipients — Christopher Cousins, Bangor Daily News
- GE threat brings Maine, Poliquin to center of Export-Import fight — Michael Shepherd, BDN
- Gov. Paul LePage talks up his plans in Farmington — Donna Perry, Sun Journal
- Breaking long silence, Clinton opposes Keystone pipeline — Amanda Becker, Reuters
- As clock ticks, Senate seeks way to avert shutdown — Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell, Reuters
- Financial newsletter ranks Maine among least tax-friendly states — Scott Thistle, Sun Journal
Remembering Yogi Berra
There was some sad news from the world of baseball on Tuesday, when New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra died at age 90.
The Hall of Fame player was as much known for his colorful, often nonsensical offerings of wisdom, including, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” “It’s deja vu all over again,” and “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
But I learned something today that you may not know: Before Berra mustered out of the Navy after World War II, where he saw action on D-Day, he played under an assumed name with a semi-pro baseball team that barnstormed around New England, according to the New England Historical Society.
He played with a team out of Cranston, Rhode Island, in the New England League, which also had a team in Portland around the time. But the league didn’t allow players signed to professional teams to play semi-pro games and the military didn’t like it, either. Still, baseball writers protected the men playing under fake names.
Later, a manager in the league remembered seeing a player that he knew from professional baseball come to the plate in a game against Berra’s team. He intentionally walked that player, but he didn’t know the person who came up after him.
“That short little guy looked about 18 or 19 years old, and it turned out he hit a home run with the bases loaded,” he wrote. “His real name was Lawrence ‘Yogi’ Berra.”
Even we Red Sox fans will miss you, Yogi. — Michael Shepherd