Who’s trying to buy Maine’s 2nd Congressional District?

Good morning from Augusta, where there are the makings of a quiet day at the State House, but as we’ve learned in the past, you just never know.

For a four-day week, this one was busy and memorable, from the national monument meetings in the Katahdin region to the hearing on Maine Warden Service activities in northern Maine. And then there were yesterday’s salvos between Gov. Paul LePage and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

For the most part, all of that was a lot of talk and little action, but that’s the way it goes sometimes in politics. Policy and political progress take time and in Maine, June, July and August are better spent enjoying the outdoors.

That said, there are some tidbits to fill you in on, so let’s not dally. — Christopher Cousins

Cain wins fundraising round but still trails in the long game

Democrat Emily Cain, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin for the 2nd Congressional District seat, reports that she raised more campaign money than Poliquin did in April and May, though Poliquin counters that he has more cash on hand leading into the summer campaign.

Cain raised about $220,000 in that period, compared with $193,000 for Poliquin. According to Federal Elections Commission filings, Cain is still operating at a deficit in terms of cash on hand. Her $921,000 in the bank is less than half of Poliquin’s nearly $2 million.

Both campaigns tried to deflect attention from the numbers. While Cain emphasized her grassroots strength in terms of contributions from individuals — which she said came from 770 Mainers in the recent reporting period, as opposed to 53 for Poliquin — Poliquin emphasized historical data, including the fact that Maine voters have not unseated an incumbent in the 2nd Congressional District in 100 years. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • William Cohen, a former Republican congressman and senator from Maine who went on to serve as secretary of defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton, has landed a new job with the British Broadcasting Corp. According to Fishbowl DC, Cohen will serve as a world affairs analyst for the BBC’s Washington-based World News America.
  • The Maine Republican Party estimates that it will need 368,000 votes to re-elect Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin for the 2nd Congressional District seat and put Maine in the red column in the presidential race. In a fundraising email, the party said it needs $1.17 per voter to accomplish those goals. As Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies used to say, some “quick cyphering” reveals that the GOP hopes to have at least $430,000 on hand just for its absentee ballot and get out the vote operations.
  • The conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center released an extensive report Thursday titled “The Top 10 Things Keeping Mainers Poor.” Here’s your soundtrack.
  • Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves and NeighborWorks America President & CEO Paul Weech will gather in South Berwick today to celebrate the grand opening of Young Street Apartments, an affordable senior citizen living center owned by Avesta Housing. The complex features 28 downtown apartments, a wellness room and telemedicine services. The festivities at 29 Young Street kick off at 11 a.m.
  • The Augusta Civic Center will host the Home Grown Maine 2016 Marijuana Trade Show & Expo beginning Saturday morning. In addition to displays by a range of businesses related to the marijuana industry, there will be numerous panels and lecturers, including a bipartisan legislative panel at 1 p.m. Saturday. Click here for more information and click here for a funky song about smoking weed. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Playing hardball in Vermont politics

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee has announced that he will run for governor of Vermont as a Liberty Union Party candidate.

Lee is best known for his left hand, which helped him set the record for most games pitched by a Sox lefty (321) and the third-highest win total by a southpaw (94). The arm remains potent.

At age 65 in 2012, Lee played a stint with the San Rafael Pacifics, which are part of the independent North American League. He also led a contingent to Cuba to play a series of baseball games there before relations with the U.S. had improved to the point where President Barack Obama visited earlier this year.

Lee is known for his “Space Ball”  or “Leephus” pitch, which was slow and followed a high arc, and was nicknamed “Spaceman” by Red Sox utility infielder John Kennedy (not that one).

Among Lee’s off-the-field antics, according to Wikipedia, was his defense of Maoist China, support of population control and his claim that sprinkling marijuana on his breakfast cereal made him impervious to bus fumes while jogging to work at Fenway Park. In 1988, Lee was a presidential candidate in the Rhinoceros Party and ran on a platform of banning guns and butter bulldozing the Rocky Mountains so Alberta could receive more sunlight.

Although he is a long-shot, the prospect of Govs. Lee and LePage attending conferences together certainly is enticing to those who love politics and high drama.

I am suddenly more interested in Vermont politics. — 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.