Libertarian candidates jump into races to unseat King and Poliquin

The list of candidates for Congress on Maine’s 2018 ballot continues to grow, including some from a new political persuasion for Maine: The Libertarian Party.

Chris Lyons of Brunswick has announced that he has launched a campaign to oust fellow Brunswickian Angus King, an independent, from the U.S. Senate. Further north, Brian Kresge of Winterport has launched his own bid as a Libertarian against 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican.

Both are leaving the starting gates with similar messages: That Republicans and Democrats in Washington and at the state level have failed to lead and govern. And both are starting a considerably steep uphill slog as fourth-party candidates taking on established incumbents.

Call the prospect of a Libertarian candidate being elected a long shot, but that’s also what was said about the party gaining official status in Maine in 2015 and 2016 as supporters register the 10,000 voters they needed take the first step. The Secretary of State’s office rejected some of the signatures in January 2016, spurring the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc. to sue. That lawsuit went on for months, resulting in a federal judge first ruling against the party’s bid to be a party and then reversing his decision on appeal a month later. That allowed the libertarians to collect the additional registrants they needed and propelled their contention that Maine’s process for creating a new political party is unconstitutionally rigid.

Being an official political party in Maine affords candidates from that party a much easier path to the ballot, setting up a simple registration system in place of a more formidable petition-based system. The Legislature passed a law this year that extends by one election the requirement that the party send at least 10,000 registered voters to the polls — meaning that will have to happen in November 2018.

Lyons, who is a contractor by trade, ran a write-in campaign against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, in 2014. He has yet to file for his 2018 candidacy against King with the Federal Election Commission but has already launched a series of campaign events. He said he is in the race to win it and that converting independents or voters enrolled in major parties is easy.

“One thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years is that it isn’t so much that people become a Libertarian,” he said during an interview on Wednesday. “They simply realize they are one. I’ve heard this time and time again.”

Kresge, a senior software developer for RKL eSolutions LLD of Pennsylvania and Army veteran, said his priority as a candidate and congressman is to advocate for “smaller, more effective government,” which is at the core of the Libertarian ideology. Kresge also has not filed yet with the Federal Election Commission.

“The Libertarian Party is here and is serious about representing your interests,” said Kresge in a written statement on Wednesday.

The candidate lineups against King and Poliquin are still developing. So far, only Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey has jumped into the race against King. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

LePage said all comments should be allowed to stay up on his Facebook page — even though the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is suing him over that. The Republican governor has had a number of confusing radio exchanges about his Facebook page over the last few weeks, saying alternately that he doesn’t have access to it and that Brent Littlefield, his political adviser, runs it. However, the ACLU of Maine sued him on Tuesday, saying the constitutional free speech and petition rights of two Maine women were violated when their critical comments on LePage’s page were deleted and they were banned from posting. LePage’s team has responded to past ACLU criticism by saying it’s not a government page. When asked about it in a Thursday interview with WGAN, LePage said he had “nothing to do” with running the page, but added, “Do I agree that all comments should be left up there? Absolutely.” The people suing the governor will agree. — Michael Shepherd

Maine’s ethics panel will meet on Thursday to continue their investigation of a York County casino campaign, but things have changed. The Maine Ethics Commission will convene at 9 a.m. to continue to seek documents in their complex probe of the casino campaign linked to U.S. Virgin Islands developer Shawn Scott. They’re focusing on a political committee run by his sister that apparently violated Maine law by at first disclosing that $4.2 million in contributions came from her, but later saying it came from a web of domestic and offshore companies. This week, a new political committee that was founded by a company tied to China entered the race. So, things aren’t getting any easier for people following this money. — Michael Shepherd

LePage’s daughter has a new job at an Augusta lobbying and public relations firm. Serra Public Affairs announced Wednesday that it has hired Lauren LePage of Waterville as senior manager of strategic partnerships and political outreach, calling her “a valued political figure in Maine.” This was her final year at the University of Maine School of Law and she holds a planning board seat in the city where her father was mayor before being elected governor in 2010. She has worked for his administration, his outside political group and on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Maine. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

You’re not truly famous until they name a dinosaur after you

But that’s what’s happened for Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, who is about as lofty a figure in heavy metal as there is. Scientists at the Natural History Museum in London recently discovered that a species of sea crocodile that lived in Europe 164 million years ago has been misclassified for more than 100 years.

Owing to the croc’s particularly mean disposition — and some scientists who obviously moonlight as headbangers — they named it “Lemmysuchus obtusidens.” Lemmy, who died of cancer in 2015, would have been proud that his name could endure, potentially, for millions of years.

Here’s the croc’s soundtrack, albeit more than 160 million years late. — Christopher Cousins

Programming note

Again, the Daily Brief is continuing its abbreviated summer schedule. We’ll take Friday off, but will have all the political news you need until we’re back on Monday.

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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.