Trump looms over House GOP agenda, Maine politics in 2016

Good morning from Gardiner, where I’m settling back in after a trip to New York City last week. I didn’t see Donald Trump, but I did see “Blackbird” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Highly recommended.

I’ll start today (and probably many more days between now and November) with the Republican front-runner.

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan previewed an upcoming Republican policy agenda called “A Better Way.” Details will be released in the coming weeks, but it’ll cover poverty, jobs, taxes national security, health care and the structure of government.

This came just after the Wisconsin speaker endorsed Trump for the first time in his hometown newspaper, with Ryan saying he’s “confident” that Trump would help us turn the ideas in this agenda into laws to help improve people’s lives.”

Maine observers should recognize this argument. It’s the same one that was made by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, in an audiotape leaked to progressive activist and Bangor Daily News blogger Mike Tipping in May.

Poliquin hasn’t formally endorsed the divisive Trump — only releasing a statement praising his status as the race’s only “job creator” — and has avoided questions on the presumptive nominee.

However, he told a conservative group last month in Portland that Trump’s “not a policy person” and that he’ll leave a lot of the conservative policymaking up to the House. It seems that these Mainers had a bit of an inside scoop from Poliquin, and his prediction seems to be coming into focus, if not coming true.

But as this happens, Democrats will work double-time to link Poliquin to Trump as the freshman runs a hotly contested rematch against Democrat Emily Cain in 2016. So, Trump will loom over Maine politics for the rest of this year, too. — Michael Shepherd

Same-name pols in Romania and Maine

Our eagle-eyed editor, Robert Long, flagged this POLITICO item for us about a confusing election in Romania, where three unrelated men named Vasile Cepoi are running for mayor of the same village.

Maine hasn’t seen anything like this — at least recently. In 2013, the Morning Sentinel reported that a husband and wife ran against each other for a warden position in Waterville, which got national media attention.

There have been legislators with similar names, including David C. Burns and David R. Burns, Republicans who served together in the Maine House of Representatives from 2010 to 2012.

David C. Burns, of Whiting, is a former state trooper who went on to serve two terms in the Senate and is leaving office this year. The tenure of David R. Burns, of Alfred, didn’t go well.

He resigned in 2012 and was later sentenced to jail time for violating Maine election law in ways that a member of the Maine Ethics Commission called “mind-boggling.” He pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor theft counts and three misdemeanor forgery counts.

So, one David Burns was a cop, the other a crook. But at least they never ran against each other. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

“Your a very bad girl.

Looked like you have a system worked out

Your kind of hot though”

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.