Good morning from a cold, post-blizzard Augusta, where Maine Democrats are on the hunt for someone to lead them out of the political wilderness after the 2016 cycle that brought you President Donald Trump, aided by a win in the 2nd Congressional District.
It’s leading to calls among Democrats to draft Maine Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to run for governor in 2018. The longtime lawmaker has only gained stature in the party of late as the top surrogate here for Bernie Sanders during the presidential caucuses.
The Vermont senator beat eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton easily in Maine. Jackson, a plain-speaking logger and labor Democrat, is perhaps better positioned than any state-level politician to capitalize on the Sanders-type brand now having a moment in the party.
Until now, Jackson has ruled out running to replace the term-limited Gov. Paul LePage in 2018, citing the financial toll of his unsuccessful 2014 primary run for the 2nd District, which was marked by big-money Democratic groups who rallied behind Emily Cain and against Jackson.
But these fresh calls have gotten the attention of Jackson’s son, Chace, who authored a public Facebook post on Thursday saying people have been “expressing this sincere hope” that his father will run, but “I don’t know what he ought to do” and “we really don’t talk about it.”
Noting that he’ll “catch hell” for writing the post, Chace Jackson laid out what progressives should do to draft his father, including avoiding a repeat of 2014 by not only lobbying him, but urging legislators, progressive groups and Sanders’ political organization to get behind him.
“Imagine how dominant a Jackson campaign could be in a primary by fusing the massive base of Portland progressives with rural populists in Aroostook, Oxford, and elsewhere?” he wrote. “That’s not just a winning primary campaign, that’s the nucleus of a winning Democratic (coalition) against the Republican nominee and a new dawn for Maine Democrats.”
It’s worth noting that former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud tried that in in 2014 and lost to LePage, who got more support in Michaud’s own 2nd District. That longtime blue-collar Democratic district helped elect Trump and is represented now by second-term Republican Bruce Poliquin.
Any Democrat will have a hard time turning the rural tide, but Sanders’ win may have showed a path forward for the party in Maine. Whether Jackson will be that movement’s chief standard bearer will be a top question in state politics this year. — Michael Shepherd
- Collins backs Trump’s Health and Human Services nominee: Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins voted party-line early Friday to confirm Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King opposed him. Collins’ office didn’t answer questions from the BDN this week about her position on Price and she didn’t issue a statement on her vote by Friday morning. Price has been criticized by Democrats for supporting privatization of Medicare, opposition to the Affordable Care Act and financial ties to the medical industry.
- Defenders of Question 2 will storm a Friday hearing on LePage’s biennial budget: The Maine Education Association, which backed the 2016 initiative passed by voters to place a 3 percent surtax on income over $200,000 to fund schools, said that dozens of members will testify against the budget proposal before the Legislature’s budget-writing committee on Friday. LePage proposes delaying the law, which the union has argued goes against the will of voters.
- Trump urged to be tough on Russia: Collins signed on to a letter from several senators Thursday urging President Donald Trump to develop a tough foreign policy regarding Russia. “While we should seek common ground with Russia in the areas of mutual interest, we must never pursue cooperation with Russia at the expense of our fundamental interests of defending our allies and promoting our values,” reads part of the letter. Read the whole letter by clicking here and here’s a bonus soundtrack.
- Contiguous carry: The New Hampshire Legislature has enacted a law that will allow the carrying of concealed firearms without a permit. The bill is now under consideration by Gov. Chris Sununu, who has said he will sign it. New Hampshire will be the 11th state with a so-called “constitutional carry” law. Maine enacted a similar law in 2015.
- LePage’s next town hall will be on Wednesday in Yarmouth: It’ll be at the AMVETS post at 148 North Road from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 15. — Michael Shepherd and Christopher Cousins
- Maine lawmakers eye new protections for electricity customers — Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News
- Appeals court upholds suspension of Trump’s travel ban — The Washington Post
- Challenges to Trump’s travel ban abound in courts across U.S. — Reuters
- Trump’s approval rating slides despite support for travel ban — Morning Consult
- So far, no one is crossing the aisle in the Trump era — FiveThirtyEight
- USM won’t cancel event featuring controversial Maine GOP lawmaker — Jake Bleiberg, BDN
- Trump review of securities rule threatens retirement protections in Maine — Meg Haskell, BDN
- Consumer watchdog faces attack by House Republicans — The New York Times
- National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say — The Washington Post
- UMaine to pay $75K in back wages to student dining services employees — Nick McCrea, BDN
- Presque Isle police chief suggests a regional police force could make sense — Anthony Brino, BDN
Best of Maine’s Craigslist
- Man not ruling out affair with ‘Barbie’: A married man around Brunswick wants to have an affair. Normal women are in luck, with him saying he’s “not Ken so I am not looking for Barbie unless of course that’s your name then I am good with Barbie.” Here’s another soundtrack.
- Not the compliment he was going for: A man tells an employee at the Hannaford near the Maine Mall in South Portland that she’s “the sexist sweetest girl I’ve ever seen behind a customer service desk.” A well-placed “E” would have made this post pop. — Michael Shepherd
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