Another presidential candidate is coming to Maine

Good morning from Augusta, folks, where it looks like you’ll need your lawn mower a few more times after all. If your lawn was like mine in recent weeks — dusty, brown and crispy — you probably thought your grass was a goner until next year. It’s amazing what a little rain will do and how quickly it will do it.

The grass is greener on THIS side. Who’da thunk? Here’s your soundtrack, which ought to start your foot tapping.

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has announced he’ll visit Maine next week, which comes as little surprise. This could be a banner year for his party, especially in Maine, where the Libertarians are a newly minted political party. Among the requirements to retain official party status in Maine is that at least 10,000 registered Libertarians have to vote in the November election. It’s no small feat, but one that is probably helped by the fact that the Republicans and Democrats have nominated two of the most unpopular major-party candidates in electoral history.

Nationally, Johnson is polling around 10 percent, which is a relatively high number for a third-party candidate. Could voters unhappy with Clinton and Trump flock to Johnson and increase his popularity? Probably not, but building a political movement takes time. A vote tally above 10 percent in November could set the stage for a major revolution in gridlocked American politics, especially if it leads to Libertarians being elected to Congress. Even a few of them in an otherwise evenly divided House or Senate could disrupt the Washington power structure.

However, no Libertarian has ever been elected to Congress, so the challenge remains daunting.

Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, will be joined by running mate Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, on Friday, Aug. 26 at the Gendron Franco Cultural Center at 46 Cedar St. in Lewiston. The event, which will feature Q&A with audience members, kicks off at 6 p.m. Mark your calendar.

Poliquin wants new rules for refugees

On the heels of news Monday from the Portland Press Herald that a refugee who lived for a while in Freeport ended up being killed in Lebanon while fighting for ISIS, Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin released a statement Tuesday in opposition to the United States’ immigration policies.

“We are seeing growing threats from radicalized individuals and groups around the world and here at home,” he said. “Still, the president and his liberal allies are ignoring the rightful concerns of millions of Americans and moving forward with a dangerous Middle East immigration and refuge policy.”

Poliquin has long been a proponent of stopping refugee resettlement until new security measures can be implemented.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage made a similar statement Tuesday, as conservative Republicans seek election-year traction from concerns about domestic terrorism and homeland security. It should be noted that court documents provide no evidence that Adnan Fazelli ever posed a terrorism threat in Maine. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Senior $afe Act. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, both Republicans, will host a joint news conference Thursday in Bangor to tout the Senior $afe Act, which they introduced in their respective legislative chambers in 2015. The act, which encourages financial institutions to report suspected financial fraud against senior citizens, models a program that began in Maine in 2014. The bill passed through the U.S. House in July and has yet to come up for a vote in the Senate.
  • Modeling Maine welfare reforms. A Republican state Senate candidate in Illinois is campaigning on a promise to emulate welfare reform measures that have taken place in Maine, particularly a work requirement for food stamps. Marty Blumenthal, an attorney, told a reporter “Those who say it would not work can be handed a copy of the report about Maine’s success.”
  • Correction: Monday’s Daily Brief reported incorrectly that a Maine Department of Health and Human Services employee traveled to Idaho to make the case against Medicaid expansion under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The official made his case by telephone.

Reading list

The government’s role in tragedies

For some reason my 6-year-old’s newest obsession is the Hindenburg disaster. He learned about it from his brother and me, and has watched that infamous footage from 1937 several times.

He is full of questions at this age and was particularly taken by the emotions of the reporter in the famous video

“Why did the reporter cry?” he asked.

“Because he saw something terrible,” I said.

“I hope you never see something terrible like that.”

“Thanks, buddy,” I said. “Me too.”

Then I was thinking of a few marathon committee hearings I’ve covered in Augusta, which very nearly brought me to tears.

Oh, the humanity. — 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.