In Sanders, Clinton finds a surrogate more popular than she is in Maine

Good morning from Augusta. But political eyes aren’t on the state capital this week, they’re 60 miles northeast in Bangor, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will stump for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Friday.

Clinton’s former primary rival has become one of her biggest-name surrogates on the campaign trail against Republican Donald Trump, assuaging his progressive followers wary of Clinton’s sometimes-centrist tendencies in her 30 years in the political spotlight.

Sanders is headed to the heart of Maine’s rural, working-class and somewhat conservative 2nd Congressional District, where Trump has opened a lead on Clinton that was measured at 10 points or more in September polling.

If any surrogate can win over undecided progressive voters for Clinton, it’s Sanders. He won a commanding victory in the Maine Democratic caucuses in March and later that month, a poll from Critical Insights said Mainers backed Sanders over Trump by a 26-point margin, while Clinton only had a nine-point advantage.

Much of this is likely due to Sanders’ working-class credibility that Trump himself tried to exploit at a June rally in Bangor, hammering Clinton on trade, which was a key wedge between Clinton and Sanders during their primary campaign.

Opposition to trade agreements is common in Maine politics and the 2nd District, which is worth one electoral vote, is now one of Trump’s best chances to win territory controlled by President Barack Obama in 2012.

That’s why Clinton needs Sanders, and that’s why he’ll be in Bangor and not Portland. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • Twelve Maine sheriffs came out against Question 3 on Maine’s 2016 ballot. The question would expand background checks to private gun sales and transfers, but sheriffs from Androscoggin, Aroostook, Hancock, Knox, Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, Washington and York counties said in a news release that it “will do nothing to stop evil people from getting their hands on guns.”
  • A Portland lawmaker wants the LePage administration to cancel a contract with a company doing bridge work in Portland after testing showed elevated lead levels, according to the Portland Press Herald. Rep. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, said the Maine Department of Transportation should end a $1.9 million contract with Florida-based Southern Road & Bridge to paint four bridges in Portland after he helped commission soil tests around the Deering Avenue bridge across Interstate 95. A MaineDOT spokesman said soil will be tested after the job is done, the company has met state standards and would have to pay for cleanup.
  • Voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District are seeing two new ads in support of Democrat Emily Cain. One from Cain’s campaign highlights a woman helped by a bill that the former Orono state senator sponsored in the Maine Legislature requiring insurers to cover oral chemotherapy. Another ad from the House Majority PAC, which has ties to Democratic leaders, continues the well-documented attack on Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s use of a property tax break program intended for commercial logging.
  • Maine’s own Hannibal Hamlin ranked 37th on Buzzfeed’s list of vice presidents ranked by “hotness.” Abraham Lincoln’s first VP and a longtime abolitionist Maine senator was dinged for his “neck spikes” — a well-maintained neck goatee of sorts. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • Dine with an exclusive pasta club member: A Maine woman is one of 21,000 people to get a $100 pass entitling her to free Never Ending Pasta Bowls at Olive Garden between Oct. 3 and Nov. 20. “My friends and family are going to get sick of me asking them if they want to go to Olive Garden,” she says, wondering if you want to go with her.
  • Moxie for manure?: Someone in Searsmont is offering “almost free” horse manure, saying, “Bring me cider, a six pack, a case of moxie or a bag of chips (no doritos), and you can load all the manure you please.”
  • I will rap in a club; I will rap in a tub: A Portland rapper is seeking $50 to “rap anywhere,” including “your club, house, barn, bathtub, ect.” Here’s your soundtrack— 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.