Democratic loyalties further tested in Portland mayoral race

The endorsements just keep coming in Portland’s mayoral race.

On Monday, five former city mayors, including former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat, endorsed challenger Ethan Strimling, according to the Portland Press Herald. On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Brennan countered with an endorsement from House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, in a letter to the Press Herald.

These surrogates are furthering the messages that the Democratic candidates have been pushing in debates: Strimling says he’ll unite a divided council and city, while Brennan says Portland’s doing as well as ever under his leadership.

“A mayor has to listen to people from all walks of life,” Allen told the Press Herald. “If I’ve learned anything … it’s that no one side has all the answers.”

“Portland is flourishing under Mike’s leadership,” Eves wrote.

The race’s third candidate, Tom MacMillan, chairman of the Portland Green Independent Party, has also gotten into the action, touting support from former Democratic state Rep. Harlan Baker and former chairs of the state Green Party.

My colleague Seth Koenig been tracking endorsements in the race so far, and Brennan and Strimling have been testing Democratic loyalties. Brennan has gotten support from half of Portland’s legislative delegation, including Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, while Strimling has been backed by 11 of 17 city councilors and school board members and several unions.

The candidates will be debating at 7:30 p.m. today on WCSH-TV, Channel 6 in Portland. Expect to hear more about their supporters then. — Michael Shepherd

Legislative committees in session Tuesday

It’s been nice and quiet around the State House lately, with nary a legislator in the halls. But that will be a bit different on Tuesday, with a few committees set to do some minor work.

Most notably, a legislative commission will have a second meeting in its probe of how between $50 million and $60 million of tobacco industry settlement money that comes in every year is being spent. It’s supposed to be designated for public health programs. Two Republican lawmakers asked for a review of the fund by the the Legislature’s watchdog arm in August.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee will also work on two bills carried over from last session that deal with benefits for state workers.

One would increase cost-of-living adjustment caps for retired workers whose spouse died after receiving Social Security benefits and the other would increase benefits for state workers in rural locations who retire after 25 years of service when their place of work is closed, but haven’t yet reached age 65. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Need a Democratic debate drinking game?

The top five Democratic presidential candidates will debate tonight on CNN, with coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. To get up to speed, here’s a scene-setter from The New York Times and a Vox primer on the biggest differences between frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her main rival, Bernie Sanders.

But if you need something to help pass the time, I like the looks of this drinking game at It’s simple enough, and it comes with a handy live scoreboard so you can follow along easier.

You pick a candidate to follow and drink your beverage of choice when your candidate mentions two unique words: “Families” or “guns” for Clinton, “inequality” or “education” for Sanders, “middle class” or “economy” for Martin O’Malley, “military” or “Reagan” for Jim Webb and “record” or “environment” for Lincoln Chafee. “Trump,” “trade” and “Syria” are the community words — everyone drinks when any candidate says them.

In the Republican debate on Fox News in August, followers of each candidate would have had to drink more than 30 times in the website’s game. So if you drink, do it responsibly. — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.