Maine GOP launches website attacking Lewiston mayoral candidate Ben Chin

Good morning, folks, and what a fine morning it is.

I’m a little drowsy, again, from watching another presidential debate, beginning to end. Since I voiced my impressions of the second Republican debate here in the Daily Brief last month, it’s only fair that I do so again, not that I think my opinion should matter much to anyone. I offer my impressions in the name of triggering discussion.

I agree with some of the analysis I’ve read: Hillary Clinton did about as well as she possibly could have, short of feeding the world’s hungry and curing cancer with a live-TV wave of the hand and snap of the fingers. She handled Anderson Cooper’s questions comfortably and along with the other five debate participants, managed to make it to the end without attacking each other. I more or less expected a friendly debate (translation: boring) but it was interesting.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had a strong showing and with Clinton, upstaged the three lower-tier candidates (what are their names again?). His proud pronouncements that he is a “Democratic socialist” were articulately explained, though I still think calling himself a socialist in a national election makes him un-electable. Still, his the-rich-are-too-rich message is probably attracting attention and excitement for the presidential race from people who might not otherwise be tuned in so long before the election.

If anyone had a bad night, it might’ve been Joe Biden, who because of Clinton’s strong performance and extensive efforts to link herself to President Barack Obama, now has less of a reason to crash into the primary race.

I still think that if Clinton ends up the nominee — and if Jeb Bush takes the nod from Republicans — a certain percentage of voters will see these legacy candidates as part of the same-old same-old political guard in this country and maybe just stay home next November. — Christopher Cousins

GOP steps in Lewiston mayoral race

Most political observers in Maine agree that the Maine Republican Party has significantly improved its ground game when it comes to elections and though the competition is fierce, it’s arguable that the GOP is becoming more astute at air attacks as well.

Apparently the GOP is intent on keeping Republican incumbent Bob Macdonald in the Lewiston mayor’s office — or maybe they’re more interested in turning away Democratic activist Ben Chin of the Maine People’s Alliance — with the creation of a new website called “The Real Ben Chin.” Maine GOP Executive Director Jason Savage confirmed this morning that the site is maintained by the party.

The first post on the website, which looks to have launched this month, is about Chin’s prior support of a 2010 proposal to allow legal residents who are not U.S. citizens vote in local elections.

I’m curious to know where the photo that leads the site came from. It appears to be a crowd of people cheering about some urban infrastructure burning to the ground. It’s pretty over the top, but more of what we’ve come to expect in local and national elections.

UPDATE (10:10 a.m., Oct. 14, 2015: Savage said the photo I referenced above comes from a California demonstration associated with the Occupy movement a few years ago, which he said “got a little out of hand.”

“We thought the photo was representative of Ben Chin’s radical political beliefs,” said Savage. — Christopher Cousins

State revenues coming in strong

The improving economy continues to route more revenues than expected to state coffers. Mike Allen of Maine Revenue Services told lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that because of strong estimated income tax payments, among other things, revenues are strong.

The bottom line is that state revenues, after the first three months of the fiscal year, are about $10.8 million higher than they were estimated to be. That number means little with 9 months left in the fiscal year, except that your government is running in the black. A more detailed analysis of revenue trends — and predictions about what they’ll mean next year and the year after — are due in November — Christopher Cousins

‘No on 1’ campaign gathering steam

The debate around Question 1 on November’s ballot has been pretty decidedly one-sided, with proponents running an expensive and prolonged campaign for the past few months. Question 1, in case you missed it, seeks to reform and provide funding for Maine’s publicly funded election system. You can read my BDN colleague Michael Shepherd’s explainer about it by clicking here.

Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, and former Maine Senate candidate Paula Sutton will host a press conference at the State House today to explain why they oppose the question. One of their arguments, according to a press release, is that increasing funding limits for publicly financed elections will make it impossible for a privately funded candidate to compete.

That’s a bit ironic, given that it’s the same argument that the Yes on 1 campaign is built around: So much private and corporate cash is flowing into Maine’s elections that a Maine Clean Election candidate just can’t compete.

Watch the BDN today for more coverage. — Christopher Cousins

Franklin County flags at half-staff today for lost El Faro captain

Gov. Paul LePage announced this morning that flags on all public buildings in Franklin County will fly at half-staff today in honor of 25-year-old Michael Lee Holland, a crew member of the cargo ship El Faro, which sank earlier this month in a hurricane.

A memorial service for Holland, a 2008 Jay High School graduate, will be held today in Jay. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Aerosmith to Donald Trump: Don’t walk that way

Steven Tyler, frontman for Aerosmith, has asked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to stop using the song “Dream On” as he strides into campaign events. Tyler said his objections to Trump using the song, which you can hear by clicking here, are about copyright and not politics.

Has Trump listened to the lyrics? I can’t figure out why he’d choose that song, other than it’s a good jam. There’s another Aerosmith song which would probably make more of an impression on voters, which is today’s soundtrack. — 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.