Maine House polls members on LePage special session

Good morning from Augusta, where the Maine House of Representatives has been asked to vote via email on whether or not to return for a special session to address Gov. Paul LePage’s latest controversy after remarks last week about minority drug dealers and a profane voicemail to a Democratic lawmaker.

The email from House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, went out just after 9 a.m. on Friday and asks, “Do you consent to coming in for a special session of the Legislature to take action regarding the Governor’s conduct?” Responses are due on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and non-responses will be counted as no votes.

This was the subject of some confusion after a meeting between legislative leaders on Thursday, which led to a three-way split between Democrats and the two top Republicans, Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport, and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport.

The Maine Constitution provides a high hurdle, saying a majority of legislators in each political party must agree to come back.

Democrats say they’re unanimous in wanting to return to consider LePage’s removal from office. Thibodeau is willing to consider returning to censure LePage and says some in his caucus want to, as well. Fredette and his caucus don’t want to return and say they have the votes to block it.

So, Democrats and Thibodeau are aligned on wanting to come back. But their alliance frayed a bit on Thursday.

That’s when Eves angered Thibodeau by telling reporters that the Senate president — who is first in the gubernatorial line of succession — would make a better governor than LePage. Thibodeau said that’s a moot point because there’s no will among Republicans to consider removing LePage from office.

Also on Thursday, Thibodeau said that there was no agreement on a question to poll members on about coming back, and he said his caucus wants to know what it’ll be voting on.

And Eves got ahead of Thibodeau with the call for a poll on Friday, saying in a news release, “We encourage the Senate to poll each Senator with the same question.”

Thibodeau spokesman Jim Cyr didn’t know about the poll question just before it was released to media on Friday and Fredette said on Thursday that he would handle any poll of the Republican caucus, citing past precedent.

In short, Democrats want a vote on the record about LePage and so do some Republicans. But Fredette’s resistance may well sink the whole thing. We’re sure to hear more today. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • A new ad from a super-PAC continued Democrats’ push to paint U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin as a Wall Street-friendly outsider. The second ad from the House Majority PAC features an impersonator of the 2nd District Republican struggling with a canoe while wearing a suit. The group has reserved $1.3 millon in advertising through the fall in a push to elect Democrat Emily Cain, who lost to Poliquin in 2014. Democrats have prominently used congressman’s past as a New York City investment manager against him this year, including in an ad from another group that Politifact deemed half-true this week. But Cain’s not a Maine native, which is something Poliquin used in the last race to paint her as an outsider.
  • Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is pushing universities and high schools to sign up new voters. His “Voter Reg Rumble” is a competition to see which schools can get the most people to register. The winners will get visits from Dunlap to discuss voting and the election process. A news release has more details.— Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • Platonic ink ogling? A married man in Biddeford “realized recently” that he’s “super attracted to women with tattoos,” but he’s faithful, so he just wants to platonically “enjoy seeing some beautiful tattooed women.” Here’s your soundtrack, begging the question, “Why, Van Halen?”
  • Save on Ensure from a random person: Someone in Augusta says Ensure Active Chocolate “was not what I wanted,” so they’re selling five bottles for $5. It’s a “DEAL” because you’d pay $8 for a pack of “the cheap stuff at walmart.” The same person is giving away Ensure Active Vanilla. Has the liquid nutritional supplement market crashed in the capital area? — 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.