A new Gallup poll puts Maine at the middle of the pack among states when it comes to supporting President Donald Trump, which shouldn’t surprise many in our centrist state and doesn’t give us many clues about how our 2018 midterm election will go.
The Republican is historically unpopular at just over six months into his presidency. Gallup marked his most recent approval rating at 37 percent, but they’ve augmented their normal approval figures with state-by-state results based on polling from January through June.
In Maine, Trump measured at 42 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval, putting us 22nd from the bottom among states and tracking closely with his Election Day win, when 45 percent of voters backed him and he won the 2nd Congressional District, getting one of four electors.
Since the survey was done over the first half of the year, it doesn’t exactly measure where states are on Trump now and it doesn’t tell us where we’ll be in a year. Maine is still a slightly Democratic state after voting only slightly like one during the presidential election.
With a crowded open-seat gubernatorial race, a nearly evenly divided Legislature up from grabs and what could be a high-dollar race in the 2nd District, anything can happen next year. That intrigue is why we still like our jobs. Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd
- LePage: ‘Shame’ on Collins and King for opposing Affordable Care Act repeal. After Maine’s U.S. senators voted against another Republican effort to repeal the health care law on Wednesday, LePage told WGAN on Thursday that “they don’t want to fix health care” and “shame on both of them.” He also said he thought Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who is mulling a run for governor in 2018, is “planning to run for governor.” LePage also addressed the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine’s call for his Facebook page to stop deleting comments and blocking followers, saying at first that he did not know who ran his Facebook page, but later said that Brent Littlefield, his political adviser, does. — Michael Shepherd
- U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s seat is being targeted again in 2018 by a national progressive group now run by his two-time opponent. The congressman from Maine’s 2nd District is one of 50 incumbent Republicans put “on notice” on Thursday by EMILY’s List, a group working to elect pro-abortion rights Democratic women. It means that the district is one of the group’s top targets and they’re helping recruit candidates here. Poliquin was put on the same list in 2014 ahead of his second successful run against former Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain, who is now executive director of EMILY’s List. The Democrats who have declared to run against Poliquin so far are two-time Maine Senate candidate Jonathan Fulford of Monroe, restaurateur Tim Rich of Seal Harbor and rural mail carrier Phil Cleaves of Dexter. However, Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, is also mulling a run and would likely gain wide establishment support if he got in. He’s married to Lewiston City Councilor Isobel Golden, a former Cain aide. — Michael Shepherd
- A national drug reform group was eyeing Maine for a 2018 referendum aimed at solving the state’s opiate crisis, but they decided against it. Earlier this year, the Drug Policy Alliance was considering running a 2018 referendum that would have targeted Maine’s opioid crisis, the main cause of the state’s record 376 drug overdose deaths last year. Alliance spokesman Jag Davies said it “would have offered a wide spectrum of evidence-based public health interventions” to addiction and overdose deaths, but the group decided not to move forward. It would have been a watershed initiative nationally and Maine has never had a referendum so explicitly addressing a public health problem. Davies didn’t rule out a future effort here, saying “strong majorities” in Maine and nationally “favor treating drug use as a health issue and reducing the role of criminalization in drug policy.” — Michael Shepherd
- LePage said Wednesday that the state closed the fiscal year ending June 30 with a surplus of nearly $111 million. The governor’s budget department said $57.1 million of that will be carried forward to this year’s budget. Another $350,000 with replenish his contingency account. Maine’s rainy day fund and two other reserve accounts have a total balance of $218 million. LePage hailed it in a statement as an example of his prudent fiscal management. — Michael Shepherd
- The governor promoted two staffers on Wednesday. The governor’s office said in a news release that Sean Ingram, an Alabama native who lives in Augusta, will be LePage’s senior policy advisor on public safety, corrections, defense and veterans issues and Andrew Bracy of Portland will replace Ingram as legislative policy coordinator. Ingram worked on the Republican governor’s 2014 campaign. Before the promotion, Bracy reviewed board and commission appointment candidates for LePage. — Michael Shepherd
- Pingree: Trump ban on transgender people in military is ‘bigoted and wrong’ — The Washington Post
- CMP unveils plan that could quench LePage’s thirst for Quebec hydropower — Darren Fishell, Bangor Daily News
- Monument supporters plan party for day after Zinke review — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
- Outdoor recreation credited with $8.2 billion annual impact on Maine’s economy — John Holyoke, BDN
- Judge says man kept in solitary nearly 2 years suffered ‘atypical and significant hardship’ — Susan Sharon, Maine Public
- Senate rejects measure to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act — The Washington Post
- Dispute over state’s toll plaza plan lingers on — Deborah McDermott, The York Weekly
- Maine brewer invites Blue Angels to party he hopes will save historic Navy planes — Beth Brogan, BDN
Our own little fishbowl
Let’s face it. Political media culture is an obsessive and often incestuous echo chamber. We live in our own terrariums, often falling back on Twitter as our chief source of communication, most of which involves our profession.
Even when we vacation, we mix tweets with beach trips and sightseeing. Such is the case this week for Matt Yglesias, a political writer for Vox, whose vacation travels in Maine have been a source of much interest in the Pine Tree State’s little political Twitterverse.
We hope the Queen City showed him a good time. Here is his soundtrack. — Robert Long
The Daily Brief is taking Friday off. You should, too. We’ll see you back here on Monday.
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