It looks like conservatives push-polled Mike Thibodeau’s district

Good morning from Augusta. This is the time of year that your phone will start to ring with political robocalls and polls.

Today, we lead with one that looks particularly dirty, courtesy of a Winterport man who took a polling call at home on Monday evening that he said ended after he became angry.

He asked not to be identified, other than to say he’s a supporter of Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, who’s running for re-election in Waldo County area against Jonathan Fulford, a Democrat from Monroe. Thibodeau edged out Fulford in 2014 by 135 votes.

The questions in the poll, conducted by a live caller, went like this, according to the man:

  1. Do you like Gov. Paul LePage? What percentage represents your approval of him?
  2. Are you going to vote this fall? What percentage would you give to the likelihood you’ll vote this fall?
  3. Will you vote for Bruce Poliquin or Emily Cain for the 2nd Congressional District seat? What percentage?
  4. In the November election, will you vote for Republican Mike Thibodeau or Democrat Jonathan Fulford for the Maine Senate? What percentage?

“The next thing they wanted to know is why I’d vote for Mike Thibodeau, a representative who sided with liberals in southern Maine,” said the man. “That’s where I stopped it right there. That’s a pretty poor way to do a poll. Most of the time I answer poll questions but that one was ridiculous.”

The pollster didn’t identify himself, said the man, so it’s difficult to say who has this poll in the field. But it looks like a push poll, where the objective isn’t to gather information as much as it is to influence voters with loaded questions.

We can say that equating Thibodeau with liberal lawmakers — despite the fact he is one of the state’s highest-ranking Republicans — is something LePage has done before, including in statements to the media and in robocalls in 2015 conducted by LePage’s daughter.

LePage has also said repeatedly — particularly after Senate Republicans voted against his state budget veto in 2015 — that he would campaign against some of them this year.

Thibodeau said he heard from a constituent who received a polling call similar to the one described above.

“My reaction is it was curious questioning,” said Thibodeau. “Obviously somebody’s got an interest in this race.”

If this is indeed a case of Republican ankle-biting, the political strategy here amounts to little more than vendetta. A united Republican Party is going to have a difficult enough time keeping its Senate majority in 2016, with Thibodeau already among the body’s vulnerable members. Ask yourself: How would a Democratic majority benefit LePage in his final two years in office?

Did you hear (or better yet, record) this poll? Have you gotten a different call this year using questionable tactics? Let us know. Email anytime at ccousins@bangordailynews.com and mshepherd@bangordailynews.com. — Christopher Cousins, with Michael Shepherd


Quick hits

  • Parties will have to replace as many as 34 Maine legislative candidates who have dropped out of their November races, according to MPBN“Paper candidates” who drop out after primaries are a normal phenomenon in legislative campaigns, buying parties time to recruit general election candidates. On the House side, Republicans have lost 17 candidates to Democrats’ nine. On the Senate side, Republicans lost six to Democrats’ two. The most notable may be Republican William Welch, a former Lewiston police chief who the Maine Ethics Commission found to have falsified Clean Election signatures. One incumbent, Rep. David Sawicki, R-Auburn, dropped out of his swing-seat race. Local caucuses must pick replacements by July 25.
  • The undercover Maine game warden who was the main subject of a Portland Press Herald investigation wants a legislative panel to investigate state Rep. John Martin, according to the newspaperBill Livezey said the Eagle Lake Democrat conspired with reporter Colin Woodard “to create a fabricated false story against the warden service.” The newspaper and Martin denied the allegations, with Martin advising Livezey to “shut up” because “there is a lot more there that hasn’t been told.” The complaint went to the Maine House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee. It’s unlikely to go anywhere.
  • The ethics commission will hold a public hearing in August on clarifying an election law loophole illuminated this year. It affects the “house party exemption,” allowing campaign volunteers to pay $250 per election in undisclosed contributions for “invitations, food and beverages” for “candidate-related activities.” It was the subject of an ethics complaint against Rep. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, who won a Senate primary in June. The rule change would clarify that costs of invitations can’t be split between volunteers. Chipman admitted that a group of volunteers paid more than $1,800 for invitations to a campaign party, with no single one going over the $250 mark. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list


Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • A better Frank: A very cold group of NBA fans wants to “replace our friend Frank with a better one” named Frank who “wouldn’t hangout with some strange boy instead of watching the Warriors/thunder game 7 with your friends.”
  • A just OK Samaritan: Somebody found a sealed envelope in Portland and opened it, “expecting to find $1,000.” All they found was a Father’s Day card with two dogs peeing on the front. After raiding the envelope for money, they’re looking to return the card to its owner. Here’s your soundtrack.
  • More than just lobster: Jay from New York City loves it there. He loved living in Maryland. He hated Oregon. But “i hear Maine has great lobster..well everything lobster..lol which is great.” Send him your greatest “everything lobster” shack. — 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.