Mailers on sportsman’s issues, abortion draw ire in Maine legislative races

Good morning from Augusta, where a couple of mailers in potentially tight races for the Maine Legislature crossed our desks during the past couple of days.

The media may not pay as much attention as it should to mail, the main form of electioneering in legislative races, where small sums of money can go a long way. With control of the Legislature particularly up for grabs this year, they’re all the more important.

Mail has gotten some attention this year: A nonprofit group run by Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, drew a fine from the Maine Ethics Commission for not reporting expenses for a mailer attacking House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, who is trying to knock off Sen. Rodney Whittemore, R-Skowhegan.

Another Somerset County race caught our eye this week, when we were passed a mailer inserted into the Rolling Thunder Express by the House Republican Majority Fund, the House Republicans’ campaign arm. It was made to look somewhat like a newspaper, carrying a Maine Central Institute football schedule.

It carried a headline that Republican Pittsfield Town Councilor Scott Strom, a Republican, got the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine’s endorsement over Rep. Stanley Short, D-Pittsfield, publishing a signed letter from David Trahan, the pro-gun group’s executive director, outlining Strom’s A grade from the organization.

The problem is that Short got the endorsement from the group, which normally backs Republicans. Trahan said a similar mail piece went out in the district represented by Rep. Bob Duchesne, D-Hudson, who got SAM’s endorsement over Republican Gary Drinkwater of Milford.

“I have to think they made a mistake because I don’t know why they’d want to tick me off that way,” Trahan said.

In a statement, House Republican campaign spokesman Rob Poindexter didn’t say whether or not it was a mistake, calling this “typical election season complaining by Democrats who always want to campaign like Republicans then vote like Democrats once they’re elected.”

He also forwarded along a mailer circulated by the political fund of the pro-abortion rights Planned Parenthood in the district of Rep. Matthew Harrington, R-Springvale, which said “politicians like” him want to restrict abortion rights, citing 2015 legislative votes that happened before he won the seat in a special election.

However, Harrington, in a campaign against Democrat Nalbert Tero, is anti-abortion, as outlined in his responses to a questionnaire from the Christian Civic League of Maine. Nicole Clegg, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said it was a general mail piece consistent with his views.

Still, it requires context. Do you have more dubious mailers? Send them to me at — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • Gov. Paul LePage’s political action committee gave another $126,000 to the Maine Republican Party on Tuesday. It comes after a $110,000 transfer on Friday. But ICE PAC and the party haven’t answered questions about which legislative candidates the money is going to support, which could be limited to a group of LePage-approved candidates. Do you know who it’s supporting? Write me.
  • Former Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is in Maine today to stump for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The former state senator who gained national fame after a 2013 filibuster that initially blocked an anti-abortion bill will appear at afternoon phone banks in Waterville and Bangor before evening canvassing in the Queen City.
  • In Bangor on election night? Come drink with the Bangor Daily News. We’ll be downtown at Blaze from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8 for a happy hour panel discussion hosted by Executive Editor Tony Ronzio. It’s a free event, but you must RSVP. There will be a cash bar, food orders will be taken and you can meet the Daily Brief crew (unless work calls us away). — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Dog bites spokesman

In the best expenditure I’ve ever seen on a Maine campaign finance report, Poindexter got $75 from House Republicans’ campaign arm to “replace shoes ruined by dog while doorknocking.”

Poindexter, a former WABI reporter, said that he was volunteering to knock doors for Rep. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, when he approached a house in that town with no sign of a dog. The woman who came out to greet him went to high school with Farrin.

A German Shepherd paid that no mind. Poindexter said the dog raced for the door, where it muckled onto his foot and ruined a shoe. He went to the emergency room, got his wound sealed and updated a tetanus shot.

“But,” he said, “I was really upset about the shoes.”

He said they were a pair of Nike sneakers that normally go for $160, but that he bought at the company’s Freeport outlet for $50. The $75 will go toward a new pair.

Happy bargain-hunting, Rob. 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.