LL Bean gets boost from Trump after progressives’ boycott call

Good morning from Augusta, where we’ve reached a milestone: President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter account made Maine news for the first time this morning by backing our most iconic company in a social media fight about him.

That’s the call for a boycott of L.L. Bean by a progressive group. The reason? Board member Linda Bean — the founder’s granddaughter — donated to a pro-Trump political action committee during the election.

After the boycott, L.L. Bean looked to de-politicize the situation by saying “we stay out of politics” and noting that its board members run the gamut of the political spectrum. That’s true: The late Chairman Leon Gorman was a big Democratic donor.

But Trump re-politicized the situation on Thursday, taking to Twitter to say, “Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage.”

“People will support you even more now,” he said. “Buy L.L.Bean.”

For what it’s worth, the boycott has been roundly criticized here, even by progressives. This may not be the kind of support that it wants as it looks to distance themselves from any controversy, but it’s becoming a part of a national culture war.

Bean was on Fox News on Thursday calling it a case of “bullying” and said there was a slight increase in business to the company.

However, the news outlet Fusion flagged perhaps a more pressing controversy: The president-elect using his Twitter account to run ads for political supporters. It’s something he’s used to doing in his business career, but it takes another meaning when he’s president.

Is his upending of political convention likely to change when he’s inaugurated next week? All signs have pointed to no, and the L.L. Bean tweet is in keeping with that. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • A Maine poll paid for by a pro-Affordable Care Act group found that 63 percent want Congress to fix — not repeal — the law. The survey of more than 1,200 Maine voters for the progressive Alliance for Healthcare Security was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm. It came as the Republican-controlled Congress takes early steps to repeal the health care law championed by President Barack Obama with Trump set to take over next week. In the poll, 63 percent said they want Congress to fix the law, compared to 32 percent who want lawmakers to start over with a new law. Other results included 70 percent opposing cutting off funds to Planned Parenthood and 82 percent saying Congress should outline a replacement plan.
  • Now, Gov. Paul LePage says three companies may leave Maine. Here’s why we’re skeptical, again. The governor told WGAN on Thursday that his office is working with three companies who may leave rural Maine, but though “the press wants to know who they are,” he’s “not going to just divulge it.” He has often made vague references like this while discussing the state’s poor business climate — a talking point he has ramped up since voters passed ballot initiatives in 2016 that placed a surtax on income over $200,000 and raised the minimum wage. Last week, he said 400 jobs were in danger at two companies. We discussed here at the Daily Brief then why we’re largely choosing not to cover these pronouncements as news without more information, since past LePage claims along these lines haven’t come to pass. His increase in the number of endangered companies from two to three in a week’s time only heightens our caution.
  • A national publication has Maine as a governor’s seat among the most likely to flip in 2018. But is it? Governing took a look at the national field last week, putting Maine among 12 seats vulnerable to change party control in 2018, although their look at our crop of potential candidates is quite perfunctory. (See our December report for a pretty definitive list.) But they note that while Maine hasn’t elected back-to-back governors from the same party, LePage has perhaps illuminated a roadmap to continued Republican control. However, the potential Republican crop has U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin of the 2nd District — candidates who could enter in stronger positions than any Democrat. But we need to see the field to tell. — Michael Shepherd 

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • This poster is pessimistic: “Nobody reads anymore,” they say. “Nobody goes out and looks and explores the society and culture they were brought up in.” Ah, but we examine Maine via Craigslist a lot here at the Daily Brief.
  • Someone is upset about Maine reporters from away: And WCSH draws their ire, with many reporters from Massachusetts, some from the mid-Atlantic states and a few from Florida and “even worse is Vivian Leah (sic) come from MO.” Massachusetts native Pat Callaghan has worked at that station for 11 years longer than I’ve been born, but take heart that even while Chris Cousins was born outside of Maine, I’m a Mainer born and bred. 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.