Independents crashing the (political) party in Maine legislative races

Good morning from Augusta, where it’s looking more and more like marijuana won’t be legalized in Maine without a fight against it.

On a November ballot that’s packed with interesting initiatives, marijuana legalization is likely to garner a lot of attention. Proponents of legalization are well established and well funded and for the most part, the voice against has consisted of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, for whom Scott Gagnon serves as Maine spokesman.

Gagnon announced over the weekend the formation of a new volunteer-driven coalition called Mainers Protecting our Youth and Communities. The coalition consists of parents, youth, health experts, faith leaders, law enforcement, health advocates and recovery specialists, according to Gagnon. As with past legalization efforts in Maine, the core of the argument against will be the risks for minors in an environment where marijuana is legal and marketed in candies and other products that appeal to youth.

“In many ways, this initiative is worse than what was passed in Colorado,” said Gagnon in a written statement. “First and foremost, there are no criminal consequences for selling or providing marijuana to minors. This is a huge issue considering the proliferation of kid-friendly gummies and other edibles that will come with the industry.”

Gagnon said the coalition will launch a website and social media campaign soon. — Christopher Cousins 

The political convention you probably missed over the weekend

The national Libertarian Party held its convention in Florida over the weekend with far less fanfare and coverage than the Democratic and Republican conventions are receiving — and those conventions aren’t until July.

Here’s your soundtrack.

The convention in Orlando chose former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as the vice presidential nominee. The Libertarians have not been a major factor in past presidential elections but could have an impact this year with relatively unpopular candidates at the tops of the major-party tickets and vast swaths of the electorate independent or undecided.

The convention came as Libertarians’ efforts to become an official political party in Maine received a major boost on Friday when a federal judge re-opened the door to party formation. As a result of the ruling, the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc. has until July 12 to finish up an enrollment drive that last year was deemed invalid by the Secretary of State’s office. — Christopher Cousins

Unenrolled candidate declaration deadline is Wednesday

Wednesday is the deadline for independent and unenrolled candidates for the Legislature to declare their candidacies with the Secretary of State’s office, which could make for some interesting electoral contests. Some interesting matchups are already apparent.

For the open Winthrop-area Senate seat for which there are already primaries on the Republican and Democratic sides, independent Joseph Pietrowski, a well-known lobbyist, has filed as a candidate. There is also an independent, Matthew Lauzon, running for a House seat in Biddeford. Lauzon is known for accusing two men, including a former Biddeford police officer, of sexual abuse.

You can see the whole list by clicking here and choosing “List of non-party candidates…” — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Pepperoni: Better than lobster. Really?

Here at the Daily Brief, we did what we could on behalf of the lobster roll in Roll Call’s Taste of America contest. Alas, it lost to the West Virginia pepperoni roll, which I just don’t understand. If you want pepperoni and bread, eat pizza.

Anyway, this is just an update. The pepperoni roll now faces the Philly Cheese Steak and at the moment is cruising to victory by nearly 1,000 votes.

Maybe there’s something to the pepperoni roll after all. Here’s your recipe. — 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.