Maine Democrats, Republicans trade more charges of campaign shenanigans

Good morning from Augusta, where surprise surprise, the nasty campaigning in Maine elections continues on what should be a holiday, Election Day Eve.

I’ve been focused on what is to come tomorrow far, far longer than any holiday, so excuse me if I’m trying to be festive. I’m trying to come up with traditions to launch for Election Day Eve but all the best ideas are already taken for the day before Christmas (rum nogs), New Year’s (champagne and kiss your sweetie) and Thanksgiving (meet all your old hometown friends at the local bar). Go ahead with any of those but don’t forget 1. It’s Monday and 2. If you drink more than about two rum nogs you might sleep right through Election Day. Your body is not ready. Here’s your soundtrack.  

Anyway, back to the nasty campaigning I mentioned. This past weekend was marked by a flurry of written appeals to voters followed up with a flurry of press releases complaining about those appeals.

On Saturday, the Maine Democratic Party claimed that Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing of Newport distributed a campaign mailer for himself and GOP House candidate David Haggan that Democrats say didn’t include a disclaimer disclosing who paid for the mailer. 

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said via email this morning that the panel “received a complaint about a joint postcard mailing by Sen. Andre Cushing and House candidate David Haggan. They both split the cost of the mailing and reported the costs in 24 hour reports already on file with the commission. So, the only real compliance issue is that the postcard does not contain the required “paid for” disclaimer statement.  The commissioners will consider this at the meeting this morning.”

The commission was scheduled to meet Monday on a different complaint. The Maine Democratic Party asked the commission to investigate David Edsall, a House candidate from Ellsworth whose picture appeared in two newspaper advertisements and a mailing paid for by John Linnehan, who is running for the Ellsworth City Council.

The allegations against Cushing followed a Friday report on Maine Public that a political action committee run by House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport has paid for political ads that look like local newspapers. Among other complaints from Democrats is that the “newspapers” falsely suggest that some GOP candidates have won endorsements from David Trahan, executive director of the influential Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, when in fact the group endorsed the Democrat in the race.

“It’s not OK and I think they need to apologize,” said Trahan to Maine Public.

(I make no comment on the content of these political ads but learning that the GOP thinks newspaper-like materials are powerful enough to be used as campaign literature is a good way to start the week.)

Also on Saturday, the Maine Republican Party issued a release claiming that Rep. George Hogan, who represents Old Orchard Beach, is actually living in Saco. The release included a copy of a signed and notarized statement from Hogan’s neighbors claiming that his former residence has been unoccupied for much of the summer. Hogan said he’s between homes but has lived in Old Orchard Beach all his life.

“I recently bought a second house in the district and it is currently undergoing renovations,” said Hogan in a written statement provided by the Maine Democratic Party. “I’ll be living there full time when the renovations are complete.”

Wayne of the ethics commission said his organization had not received any complaint related to Hogan’s residence.

Allegations this close to Election Day are clearly meant to sway the outcome of close races and regardless of how credible or incredible they seem, should be taken with healthy dose of skepticism. The relevant context here is that both sides are crying foul, or perhaps that both sides are engaging in dirty tricks while pointing fingers at the opposition.

It’s just another Election Day Eve in Maine.

“Twas the day before election,

And all through the house

Every creature that’s stirring

Is calling the other side a louse.”

Or worse . — Christopher Cousins

New poll puts Clinton ahead of Trump in Maine

The Democrat-leaning Maine People’s Resource Center had a poll in the field last week that found Democrat Hillary Clinton with a lead over Republican Donald Trump in Maine’s presidential race. The poll gave Clinton 45.2 percent support, compared with 38.5 support for Trump, 7.3 support for Libertarian Gary Johnson and 3.6 support for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Just 5.4 percent of survey respondents said they were undecided.

Just as past polls have shown, Clinton has a wide lead over Trump in the 1st Congressional District but it is much closer in the 2nd, where Trump is edging Clinton, 42.6 percent to 41.1 percent in a four-way race.. The poll surveyed a total of 855 likely Maine voters, including 415 in the 2nd District, where the margin or error is 4.9 percent.

These results are in line with numerous previous polls, all of which have made one thing clear: Clinton is likely to win three of Maine’s electoral votes but Trump has a valid shot at victory in central and northern Maine. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Activist in Maine for Yes on 3: Mark Barden, one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise, will join supporters of Question 3 on Monday in an effort to get out the vote. Barden’s son, Daniel, was among the 20 first-graders who were killed on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Barden and others founded Sandy Hook Promise in an effort to prevent more gun-related violence. Barden joined a canvass team knocking on doors this morning in Portland.
  • All government is not on pause today: The Task Force on Public-private Partnerships to Support Public Education will meet today at 1 p.m. in Room 438 at the State House. The 17-member task force, which is the result of legislation passed earlier this year over the veto of Gov. Paul LePage, is due to make recommendations to the 128th Legislature after it is seated in December.
  • Everything you need to know: ICYMI, the Bangor Daily News published an election primer last week that will help you navigate your ballot, or at least understand everything that’s on it. Click here to take a look. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

More things to do while waiting in line on Election Day

The Bangor Daily News has a healthy complement of serious journalists and occasionally I am one of them. Not right now.

I was all prepared for some snark when I saw that the BDN had published 7 things to do while waiting in line on Election Day, which was put together by Samuel Shepherd, our beloved intern. Alas, they were serious and thoughtful suggestions. I hereby endorse Sam’s excellent suggestions but in the spirit of being a buffoon, I offer a few more of my own:

  • Yell “FREE DONUTS OVER THERE!” and improve your place in the line.
  • Use sidewalk chalk to write “Adam Sandler for Registrar of Deeds” on the pavement and see if you’re charged for breaking polling location laws.
  • Tell your neighbors in line that you sat out the 2015 elections so you’re going to vote twice this year.
  • Lead some yoga and help everyone with their blood pressure.
  • Loudly inquire whether this is the line to apply for your doe tag.
  • Sing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” in falsetto.
  • Begin playing this bonus soundtrack on your phone and shout “Conga Line!”
  • Tell the person in front of you that you are an aspiring tattoo artist and ask if you can practice on him or her while you both wait.
  • Calmly say, “Has anyone seen my pet spider?”
  • Serve rum nogs. — 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.