Can Republicans unite after divisive Maine Senate primary?

Good morning from Augusta, where we’re still watching for fallout from last Tuesday’s primary election.

On the Republican side, the race that has made the most noise was in Sagadahoc County, where Sen. Linda Baker, R-Topsham, a moderate, was ousted by the Gov. Paul LePage-endorsed Guy Lebida of Bowdoin by 40 votes.

It has led to a bit of a fracture in the party: Bowdoin’s Baker-supporting town Republican chairman quit after the result and Lance Dutson, a Republican strategist who has started a group critical of LePage, hit him for “sabotage” of the race and said it could cost the party the Maine Senate.

It’s a critical seat for Republicans, who hold a 20-15 edge in the Senate and may have had a tough enough path to holding onto that majority before Tuesday. Lebida has called for party unity, saying on Facebook that it’s “time to mend fences.”

But the premise from moderates is that Lebida, a staunch conservative, may not be able to beat Democrat Eloise Vitelli — who Baker beat in 2014 by five points only after a Green candidate siphoned off 10 percent of votes — in November in Sagadahoc County and Dresden, a district that leans Democratic.

Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, backed Baker, who he helped recruit for the 2014 race. But he put his best face forward in a Monday interview, saying Dutson is “much more pessimistic” about the party’s chances than he is.

“We feel bad that Senator Baker didn’t win,” Thibodeau said, “but the people have chosen Mr. Lebida, so I’m sure he’s going to work hard.”

What he wouldn’t say is whether the party will back Lebida as much as they would have backed Baker, answering a question on that topic by saying, “We support every Republican candidate.”

That’ll be something worth scrutinizing as November approaches. — Michael Shepherd


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A Trump commercial you can’t un-see

I’ll forgo Craigslist to present you with something you need to see: A Japanese-style Trump propaganda commercial.

It starts with a girl stroking a picture of Trump, before she flies and skips through a Trump universe, getting a hug from the billonaire before he turns into a robot, flies into space and destroys the world.

It’s just the way to start your work week. Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd

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.