Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage is lining up with President Donald Trump and against many congressional Republicans after intra-party squabbling made leaders pull a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Friday.
The Republican governor was against the bill at its rollout early this month, but he went public in support of it on Thursday after Republicans made changes to the bill that he and other conservatives had asked for, such as an earlier wind-down of support for Medicaid expansion.
But conservatives wanted a fuller repeal, while a bloc of moderate Republicans including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine opposed it after an estimate found that it would make 14 million people lose coverage by 2018 and increase premiums for many between ages 50 and 64.
On Thursday, LePage told WGAN that Republicans may have been moving too fast on health care. When asked if the bill was worthy of support, he said it was “improving.” But later that day, his office released a letter dated Wednesday in which he and other governors backed it with his spokeswoman calling it “a start.”
By Saturday, he was in war mode, telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that “any Republican that did not support this effort for fixing the ACA, I think they should lose the next election” and “Congress is broken” with a “constitutional crisis” looming.
“I think the American people elected Donald Trump to bring some change and some reform to this country and if the Republicans in Congress don’t realize it, it’s time for you go home,” LePage said.
The governor will be bartending for charity in Hallowell tonight, so we’ll try to ask him more — or at least ask him for a stiff drink. More on that in tomorrow’s Daily Brief. — Michael Shepherd
This Democrat could take on Poliquin in 2018
This time two years ago, Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin was facing a 2016 rematch from Democrat Emily Cain in Maine’s 2nd District. Now, he’s a second-term congressman, which has dampened chatter about the 2018 race.
Now, one Democrat is now talking about taking on Poliquin — Jonathan Fulford of Monroe, a construction company owner with a populist streak who said on Friday that he’s considering a run and may be is more likely to run for the 2nd District than any other public office in 2018.
Fulford is best-known statewide for losing two close races in 2014 and 2016 to Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, in Waldo County, a top legislative swing district.
He ran those races championing progressive causes such as universal health care and is from the wing of the party that pushed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to victory in Maine Democratic presidential caucuses in 2016. Fulford also ran unsuccessfully against Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett last year.
Fulford ran twice as a taxpayer-funded Clean Election candidate — which isn’t available for federal races — and wondered aloud if a Sanders-style campaign model built on small donations would be an option against Poliquin, who raised more than $3.3 million for 2016’s race.
Plus, he said there’s a lot to get “up to speed” at the federal level on before running and he noted the possibility of a political realignment in 2018. Both Collins and Poliquin haven’t ruled out gubernatorial runs that would send politicians scrambling into new primary battles.
“I’m in the early stages of looking at all those and then evaluating whether or not it makes sense for me to run or not or me to support somebody else or what makes sense,” Fulford said. “And I don’t have an answer yet.” — Michael Shepherd
- Another ‘Buy American, Build Maine Act’ rolls out today. Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, will host a news conference today at the State House to introduce a bill that would require that all public works contracts contain provisions mandating that manufactured goods, including iron and steel, be manufactured in the United States. The bill would also require that if two or more substantially similar bids are submitted for a public works contract, preference must be given to in-state contractors. If an out-of-state bid were lower, the state would be bound to give the in-state bidder a chance to match it. Similar versions of this bill have been tried before, including one that failed in 2016. In 2013, Jackson sponsored a “Buy American” bill that LePage vetoed. With Trump’s emphasis on buying American goods and Jackson’s better relationship with LePage, this proposal is loaded with political intrigue. — Christopher Cousins
- The Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee voted out some gun bills on Friday. All of the bills came out of the committee with either unanimous or divided reports, which means none of them are totally dead. However, at least two of the bills — bids by Republican Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn to lower the concealed-carry age from 21 to 18 and to eliminate the requirement that Mainers notify a law enforcement officer of a concealed firearm — came out with 11-1 ought not to pass recommendations. Bills to prohibit the development of a registry of gun owners in Maine and the requirement that firearms dealers keep and make available copies of federal sales forms received ought to pass as amended reports. Also receiving a majority ought to pass recommendation was a proposal to allow municipalities to bar weapons from public proceedings. A bid to require gun purchasers to provide proof of a completed firearms safety course was voted ought not to pass. — Christopher Cousins
- Democrats to continue ‘Values and Vision’ tour in Portland. Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett and other party leaders will host a public forum meant for Mainers to voice what they think should be priorities in two events Tuesday at the Woodford’s Club at 179 Woodford St., in Portland. The events are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. — Christopher Cousins
- Why Maine lawmakers spend so much time on bills that have no chance — Christopher Cousins, BDN
- Hackers attack website used to look for jobs in Maine — Darren Fishell, BDN
- A Maine woman who protects the dying can barely afford to live — Rosie Hughes, BDN
- Lawmakers have lots of ideas for spending proceeds from taxing pot sales — Mal Leary, Maine Public
- Pingree pushes for medal to recognize Maine veterans who served during Cold War — Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN
- Bill could let Amish Mainers wear red instead of orange when hunting — Anthony Brino, BDN
- Proposal would bar Maine from charging minors with prostitution — Steve Collins, Sun Journal
- White House looks past conservatives on tax reform — Lindsay Dunsmuir and Doina Chiacu, Reuters
- Speed limit to drop on span of I-295 on Monday — Dawn Gagnon, BDN
My 6-year-old pities the fools from now on
Don’t judge me. I recently introduced my younger son to Mr. T, who has long been one of my favorite American icons. Despite his tough image, he’s a positive force on society and has done a lot of work to help kids. He’s currently a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, which I admit I haven’t watched but I’ve been following his tweets. Sounds like the competition isn’t going so well:
“To any and everybody who ever felt like quitting … Don’t quit!” he tweeted last night. “Try to get back up! Don’t stay down!”
On the A-Team, however, he’s just as likely to be punching bad guys in the face and driving that awesome red and black Chevy van like it’s a Ferrari. There are lots of explosions and gunfire but one truth about the show is no one ever gets hurt. The boy and I watched an episode the other night and I built Mr. T up, just like he deserved. The boy was impressed.
“Daddy, if you were Mr. T what would you do to the bad guys?” he said.
“I’d beat ‘em up!” I said. “What would you do?”
“If I was Mr. T I’d do a big belly flop right on them,” he said.
Obviously, he requires more training. Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins