Good morning from Portland. This weekend, we told you why Maine’s Bernie Sanders-heavy delegation matters at the Democratic National Convention, starting this week, in Philadelphia. Today, we’ll tell you how they’ve been on the edge of anti-establishment dissent so far.
The convention, where Hillary Clinton will be nominated to run against Republican Donald Trump in November, hasn’t started smoothly.
WikiLeaks released a trove of Democratic National Committee emails that showed leaders smack-talking Sanders and his supporters, and party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said yesterday that she’d step down, something that Sanders has long called for.
In a statement to the Portland Press Herald, Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett, a Clinton delegate, called the resignation “absolutely appropriate and will enable our party to move forward.”
“She should have resigned a long time ago,” said National Committeeman Troy Jackson of Allagash, a Sanders supporter. “It would have instilled more confidence in both Clinton and Sanders supporters. Good riddance, big time.”
Under this backdrop, Clinton has been trying to unify the party with a host of concessions to Sanders supporters. Chief among those was a change in the rules around “superdelegates,” the party officials who can vote for either candidate at the national convention and make up 15 percent of delegates.
A change passed this weekend would bind two-thirds of superdelegates — all but governors, members of Congress and party leaders — to state totals.
The issue was pushed by state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, who floated a rules committee amendment at the convention that would have abolished superdelegates. That came after Maine became the first of 19 states to make a state rule change weakening superdelegates’ impact in 2020 and beyond.
That earlier change got Russell a mention in one of the WikiLeaks emails. DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile — who will replace Wasserman Schultz in the interim until after the election — called it a “lunacy.”
But so far, the Maine delegation has helped win some major changes. They even got a minor one on Sunday, when the Sanders delegation won a minor challenge on the DNC’s credential committee. That allowed it to seat Diane Denk of Kennebunk after a dispute over the Maine delegation’s gender balance.
“Not like getting our country back,” said Sanders delegate Seth Berner on Facebook. “But it is hard to exaggerate how few of these battles are won by the little people – the machine routinely rolls over truth and law.” — Michael Shepherd
Rural lawmakers look to fix energy rebate law
A group of Democratic legislators is seeking to “correct” a bill aimed at lowering energy costs for energy-intensive manufacturers, but not those connected to the northern Maine electrical grid.
Rep. Robert Saucier, D-Presque Isle, said Friday that he would introduce a bill to allow representatives from most of Aroostook and Washington counties to ask regulators for rebates.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission ruled last week that the law as written includes only the ISO New England power grid, largely leaving out Aroostook and Washington counties.
Rep. Martin Grohman, D-Biddeford, a member of the Legislature’s energy committee, told regulators before their decision that committee members did not intend to include those parts of northern Maine, as they don’t pay into a regional greenhouse gas auction that supplies the $3 million.
Rep. Robert Alley, D-Beals, said he would support Saucier’s effort to “correct” the bill. Alley, Saucier and another lawmaker who told the BDN he was surprised by the exclusion of northern Maine — Rep. Roland Danny Martin, D-Sinclair — all voted in support of overriding a veto from Gov. Paul LePage to pass the bill. — Darren Fishell
- The initial court hearing in Attorney General Janet Mills’ Freedom of Access Act case against the LePage administration has been postponed. It was first scheduled for today, but a clerk at Kennebec County Superior Court said it was pushed back with no date set. It revolves around an April meeting of a blue ribbon commission on education funding closed to the public and press.
- Is Trump pulling ahead? A new Morning Consult survey has him leading Clinton for the first time after the Republican convention, and he’s also slightly ahead in RealClearPolitics’ two-week average. If the election was today, FiveThirtyEight says he’d have a 57.5 percent chance of winning. But its polls-plus model, which uses polls, economic and historical data, gives Clinton a 58 percent chance. It’s muddled and early. — Michael Shepherd
- What’s next for Maine’s fledgling Libertarian Party? — Christopher Cousins, Bangor Daily News
- Here’s what Portland’s police watchdog group actually does — Jake Bleiberg, BDN
- Power plants, happy with high electric rates, fight natural gas expansion — Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald
- Maine classroom seeks to connect problem students with school, peers — Robbie Feinberg, MPBN
- Obama signs into law opioid addiction bill to protect newborns — Duff Wilson, Reuters
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- Be-cuddled Bangor: Because there’s nowhere you’d rather be than in a stranger’s arms, a Bangor man is “growing experienced in cuddling and would like to share my awareness and intuitive goodness,” whatever that is. Two others in Bangor are also starting a “platonic cuddle service.” It’ll be a paid service soon, but they’re free for now because they “need to experience peoples requests.” Here’s your soundtrack.
- Bargain bae: A man saw a woman buying sandals behind him in line at Marden’s in Scarborough and he’s already charmed: “You’re already scoring bonus points deal hunting at Mardens in my book!” — Michael Shepherd