Good morning from Augusta, where we’re seeing a normally Democratic Maine take perhaps its most prominent role in a presidential race in two decades because of its more conservative 2nd Congressional District.
On Monday, Sabato’s Crystal Ball switched the 2nd District from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican,” amid national polls that are tightening in Republican Donald Trump’s favor.
Maine has supported Democrats in every presidential election since 1992, when Bill Clinton flipped the long-standing Republican state in his victory over President George H.W. Bush, who summers in Kennebunkport.
But 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is having more trouble here against Trump: She was up by just three points statewide in a poll released last week by The Boston Globe and down 10 points in the 2nd District, which is worth one electoral vote.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential nominee, told the Bangor Daily News before a Maine fundraiser on Thursday that “we really want to do what we can to win CD2.”
This also brought Matt Pinnell, the state party director for the National Republican Committee, to Maine this weekend for a confab with state party officials.
In an interview, he called the state “absolutely in play,” saying people are “tired of career politicians and ready for an outsider.” He said Trump may be doing well enough in the 2nd District to see a “coattail effect” in favor of other Republicans.
We haven’t seen much polling at that more granular level, but the Globe poll had 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, up five points on Democrat Emily Cain, who’s challenging him in a 2014 rematch that’s one of the biggest House races in the country. Democrats led Republicans by four points statewide on a generic question about legislative races.
National Republicans hammered Cain in an ad that started airing earlier this month for her long-standing support of Clinton, but what’s notable about that attack is that Poliquin hasn’t endorsed Trump, going to great lengths not to talk about him publicly over the past year.
Pinnell said that shouldn’t make a difference to Trump or Poliquin in the 2nd District, saying “I think voters very rarely make that correlation” and “the important thing” is that Trump supports the House Republican platform.
It’s still hard to tell how Trump is changing politics in the 2nd District — if at all. But it’s clear that the district’s older, heavily white demographics are helping him push back against Maine’s presidential history. — Michael Shepherd
- Another interview with Gov. Paul LePage was released on Sunday. The Republican governor talked with Sharyl Atkisson of “Full Measure” mostly about welfare reform in an interview apparently conducted before he swore off talking to the media after his controversial remarks in August about minority drug dealers and a profane voicemail to a Democratic critic. He hasn’t been silent after his self-imposed gag order, though: He boosted Trump in a Breitbart News interview last week and continues to make talk radio appearances.
- A new Cain ad seizes on 15-year-old, secondhand comments from Poliquin on campers being “not my kind of people.” Released Friday, the ad harkens back to a dispute between Poliquin and a campground abutting a private club he owns in Phippsburg. A 2011 column in the Portland Press Herald quoted one of the campground’s owners as saying he looked over her property and said, “These are not my kind of people.” He tried to get the town’s planning board to scale back the campground’s operation, but it sided with the campground. Poliquin lost a subsequent court challenge, too. — Michael Shepherd
- After denying it misused millions in welfare funds, Maine changed its spending to follow the law — Matthew Stone, Bangor Daily News
- Poliquin has a record to run on, and it looks a bit like the Democrat he replaced — Michael Shepherd, BDN
- Bath Iron Works’ pain will be felt all over Maine — Darren Fishell, BDN
- Maine will benefit from increased trade under the TPP, but those gains are very modest — Christopher Burns, BDN
- Despite energy deal loss, huge wind farm is still on track in Aroostook —Anthony Brino, BDN
- Lawmakers, scientist express doubt over Maine lobsters’ ability to invade Europe — Fred Bever, MPBN
- Police hunt for 28-year-old man in connection with Manhattan bombing — Marc Santora and Nate Schweber, The New York Times
- Trump’s surrogates try to explain his evolution on birtherism — Jenna Johnson, Washington Post
- As ‘Bridgegate’ trial begins, Gov. Chris Christie remains the focus — Joseph Ax, Reuters
- Presidential debate panel rules out third-party candidates — Reuters
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- “Optimist,” conspiracy theorist seeks same : A man new to Maine and seeking friends thinks all men he’s met here “are “Godless and Moralless and addicts”, but he’s “looking for someone who’s a optimist type as I tend to dislike people who dwell on negativity and spend their time complaining.” He’s also a Sept. 11th “truther” and if you’re not, “chances are your a sheeple and we won’t get along.” Here’s your soundtrack.
- LePage wins in ‘Rants and Raves’: This Craigslist section is the site’s political haven, with LePage as its most popular figure. Least popular? Probably Clinton. But some guy named Gibby is also hated. — Michael Shepherd