You know the even-year legislative session is near when the State House news conferences begin and the campaigning revs up.
That’s happening Monday, when the Maine Senate Democratic Campaign Committee will formally kick off its coordinated bid to win back the upper chamber ahead of legislators coming back to Augusta on Wednesday.
But make no mistake, the campaign apparatus has been working: It raised $247,000 as of September, which was more than Senate and House Republicans combined. Updated fundraising figures through December’s end are due to the Maine Ethics Commission soon.
Democrats think they’ll pick up seats in 2016, a presidential year that’s often more favorable to them. But Republicans are pushing back on that notion, citing strong 2014 performances and a high number of term-limited Democrats.
We know many of the marquee matchups. After their 2014 race went to a recount, Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, is being challenged again by Democrat Jonathan Fulford of Monroe. Eloise Vitelli, an Arrowsic Democrat who won a Sagadahoc County seat in a 2013 special election but lost in 2014 to Republican Sen. Linda Baker of Topsham, is running again.
Other big names loom on the sidelines: Term-limited House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, is mulling a run against Sen. Rodney Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, and former Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, will likely run against Sen. Peter Edgecomb, R-Caribou, and is raising money in a bid to be the next Senate president.
Four mystery candidates are expected to appear at Monday’s news conference, so we may know more about how the races are setting up later today.
It all goes to support the case that my colleague Chris Cousins made this weekend: Many of this session’s activities are aimed at the campaign. — Michael Shepherd
LePage expects ‘nothing’ from legislators this session
Count Gov. Paul LePage among those who are already waiting for the end of the campaign season.
During last week’s minor kerfuffle over a children’s book that he gave to Republican lawmakers for Christmas, he told WMTW that last year, “we accomplished nothing” and “I don’t expect anything to change until after the next election.” — Michael Shepherd
- What lurks below the surface of Maine legislators’ agenda — Michael Shepherd, Bangor Daily News
- Maine papermakers still make out better than most from BETR — Darren Fishell, BDN
- PUC data at center of bias allegations to remain secret indefinitely — Colin Woodard, Portland Press Herald
- First images of El Faro wreckage released with ‘60 Minutes’ report — Dawn Gagnon, BDN
- Maine losing a 215-year population edge to New Hampshire — Darren Fishell, BDN
- New Maine law can take industrial wind sites off fast track — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
- Seeking momentum on gun control, Obama to take case to U.S. public — Jeff Mason and Alana Wise, Reuters
- Armed occupation continues at wildlife refuge headquarters in Oregon — Nigel Duara, Los Angeles Times
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
It’s been a while, but we’re back with our recurring feature that highlights strange posts on Craigslist.
- A man went to the emergency room at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston for a “bad tooth ache,” but ended up getting sweet on the nurse. He was “awe struck when I first saw you and tounge tied,” plus he was “in massive pain” and “just not myself,” so he wants to reconnect under happier terms.
- If you’re feeling like helping people in Portland get rid of their junk, you can grab some cinderblocks and vines that were killing a tree. Asks the latter person, “Can anyone use these for crafts?”
- This is an involved story about how a Good Samaritan rescued a rat — who is likely domesticated because “her coat was clean and even” and she liked people — near Portland’s Western Promenade. Once home, the rat dug into some “roasted chicken flakes,” which our hero makes for “hyperthyroid cats.” Somebody needs to go claim their rat from this nice person, even if it’s being fed better now. — Michael Shepherd