Will LePage weigh in on racist signs in Lewiston mayoral race?

Howdy folks. Remember yesterday how I wrote it was likely to be a quiet day in Maine politics, but probably not? If you followed the events in Lewiston, where a local property owner erected what were widely seen as racist political signs, you know that I was half right.

It was rather stunning to see a political campaign in Maine take on that kind of tone, but then again, dirty campaigning is nothing new. I grew up in Maine thinking we were insulated from — or at least a few years behind — what happens in the rest of the country. As a teenager I was more focused on how long it took new movies to make their way to my western Maine town on VHS, but now that I’m older I can see that as goes the nation, so often goes Maine.

The Lewiston property owner, Joe Dunne, told the media that his signs weren’t racist and were intended to highlight what he said were “pretty close” to communist beliefs by a mayoral candidate, Ben Chin. The fact that Chin is of Asian descent doesn’t help Dunne’s argument.

On Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage will host a town hall meeting in Auburn, which neighbors Lewiston. The governor’s intent is to advance his political agenda, but part of the event will feature questions from the audience. Though those questions are usually screened by LePage’s staff, I hope the governor is asked to react to yesterday’s events. He is, after all, someone to whom people listen and at times, follow.

Let’s hope he has the right answer. — Christopher Cousins

Women Speak Up! tonight in Portland

It’s been a while since mayoral elections have taken on such a high profile in Maine, but next month’s elections of mayors in Portland and Lewiston have been the focus of statewide attention.

Issues that impact the lives of women will be the subject of a mayoral candidates’ forum that begins at 6:30 p.m. today at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland.

“Maine’s largest city, and the state’s chief economic driver, has the opportunity to be a leader on these issues, but only if our elected officials are willing to stand with Maine women to build a city that is a model for Maine and the nation,” said Amy Halsted of the Maine People’s Alliance, in a written statement.

Topics to be discussed will range from building diversity in city leadership, helping workers balance their responsibilities both at work and at home, improving access to health care in Portland and making sure everyone can meet their basic needs, reads a press release. — Christopher Cousins

Portland’s ‘No on 1’ campaign launches video ads against minimum wage hike

The Vote No on 1 Portland campaign has launched video ads on local cable channels and online that urge Portland voters to reject raising the minimum wage in Portland to $15 an hour.

The ads feature Erin Collins, owner of Haven’s Candies, and Scott Rousseau, owner of Play It Again Sports, both of whom say they’ll have to lay off employees if the minimum wage is raised as proposed by the Portland Green Party.

You can check out the video ads yourself by clicking here. — Christopher Cousins

Liberals sweep into power in Canada

Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was ousted from power and the House of Commons will have a Liberal majority following elections Monday that stunned many political onlookers who previously predicted the Conservative Party would fare better.

Some are calling it the biggest comeback election victory in Canadian history.

Justin Trudeau, 43, will become Canada’s second-youngest prime minister and the first to follow a parent into office, according to the New York Times. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion, even though Liberals began to look better in the polls about a week ago.

What led to Harper’s downfall? The same old issues that are usually at play in elections here: government spending priorities, the government’s handling of refugees, international trade issues and the stagnation of the Canadian economy caused by plunging oil prices, according to news reports.

Early in the campaign, Conservatives adopted a “Just not ready” slogan against Trudeau but following a strong campaign and good performances in political events, Trudeau came up with a counter-slogan: “Ready.”

One last note: The Canadian campaign lasted a total of 78 days. Now there’s one way the Canadian political system is obviously nothing like ours. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

GOP presidential preference: ‘Unsure’ and ‘none of the above’

A recent national survey of 18- to 24-year-old Americans by Monmouth College, conducted online by Triton Polling & Research, had some bad news for Republican presidential candidates: The top choices were “Unsure” and “None of the above.”

There are problems with this poll, not the least of which is that it sampled only about 300 people. Still, that’s a pretty surprising result. Here is the breakdown:

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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.