How early endorsements affect the race to replace LePage

There’s still more than a year before the election to succeed Republican Gov. Paul LePage, but candidates for the Blaine House are already jump-starting the endorsements game.

There will be flood of endorsements for various candidates from lawmakers, organizations, newspapers, national groups and everyday Mainers. In many cases, their importance in the outcome of elections is questionable unless a big name — such as the former office holder in the seat — actually campaigns with the candidate.

However, endorsements announced this far ahead of campaign crunch time could have a behind-the-scenes impact for candidates trying to gain traction in parts of the state where voters are less familiar with them — particularly when it comes to raising campaign funds.

In Maine’s gubernatorial race, there are eight Democrats which should make for a relatively wild, unpredictable primary election. In the end, endorsements could indeed tip the balance toward one candidate or another. But they have been slower to come from the left than on the Republican side. When the BDN recently asked Democratic candidates for endorsement lists, most demurred and the few who did respond seemed to prefer to categorize their backers as supporters, not endorsements.

The Republican side of the ticket has fewer candidates and former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew was alone on the ticket for months. That makes the choice less complicated for potential endorsements, but it could make things uncomfortable for House Republicans who cast their lots with Mayhew before their leader entered the race.

Mayhew’s path was complicated considerably last week when House Minority Leader Ken Fredette and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason (who put his announcement on hold last week after the sudden death of his mother) both indicated they’re in. The proverbial earthquake in that race would be the entrance of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who has been noncommittal but said recently that she will make a final decision by the end of September.

Republicans in this race have the advantage of having a member of their party currently in the Blaine House, but LePage has not yet made any official endorsements other than offering general praise for both Mayhew and Fredette on various occasions. But others in the GOP are not so mum. On Thursday, Mayhew used her Facebook page to announce that two state senators and 26 House members have endorsed her candidacy.

On Friday, Fredette was asked about Mayhew’s endorsements during a radio interview on WGAN. Which sitting Republicans will stand behind Mayhew and Fredette — both of whom are long-time LePage allies who say they want to continue what he started — will be interesting to watch in the governor’s race and will provide interesting new dynamics later this year and in January when the Legislature re-convenes.

Fredette brushed the notion that there will be any tension created by endorsements aside.

“My hat is off to those who support other candidates and those who support me,” he said, though he did take a bit of a shot at Mayhew, who used to be registered as a Democrat.

“I am a lifelong Republican … before it was cool,” said Fredette.

Despite these early overtures, it’s likely that most sitting lawmakers will keep their endorsements to themselves until after the primary election. For some, that’s tradition. For others, it’s just smart politics. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

Planned Parenthood is praising Sen. Susan Collins. The Senate Appropriations Committee, of which Collins is a member, has passed bills protecting family planning and reproductive health care. The bills which would turn back the Trump administration’s attempt to stop foreign aid for abortion-related activities, restore foreign aid for family planning, maintain funding for Title X family planning and preventative health services, and allocated $108 million for the teen pregnancy prevention. According to a news release from Planned Parenthood, Collins voted for the measures. “We are fortunate to have Sen. Collins leading the way,” said Nicole Clegg, vice president of public policy for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. — Christopher Cousins

Pingree and Poliquin collaborated to ease regulation of Maine’s sea urchin and sea cucumber businesses. The measure, which was introduced as a bill earlier this year, has now become an amendment to a larger budget bill. It would end what the two representatives said in a news release were “repetitive, mandatory inspections of urchins and sea cucumbers being exported from the country.” Those two industries support more than 650 Maine jobs. The amendment and the larger spending bill remains under consideration. — Christopher Cousins

One of the Democratic candidates for governor has pulled out of the race. Kenneth Forrest Pinet of South Portland had registered as a privately financed candidate but withdrew on Friday, according to a filing with the Maine Ethics Commission. There are still eight other Democrats vying for the state’s top elected office. Here’s their soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Things heard while hoeing out my 7-year-old’s room

My wife and I have been putting it off but the level of outgrown books and toys in our kids room was embarrassing and possibly hazardous, so we spent Sunday cleaning it out. Gone are furniture and boxes of toys to Goodwill, several bags of trash and dozens of books to some friends with younger children. Here are some of the ridiculous things my wife and I found ourselves saying:

  • “Do we have a place for dinosaurs yet?”
  • “Throw away this Halloween butcher knife with fake blood inside. It was meant for one night only and it’s going to be a mess when it cracks.”
  • “What about this broken slingshot _________________ gave him? Thanks a lot, _____________.”
  • “Can a dragon be put with the dinosaurs?”
  • “I put a little guy holding a trout in with the Army men.” “THAT’S NOT WHERE HE GOES.”
  • “Small dinosaurs go in this bin. Medium dinosaurs go in this bin.”
  • “This bin is pink.” “He loves pink.” “It’s also the bin they gave us at the hospital when he was born. It’s had some nasty stuff in it.” “He loves pink.”

There was a toy guitar that’s been kicking around our house since our older boy was a tot. It was one of his favorite toys but it used to drive us crazy, rocking out all over the house with it. It didn’t work anymore so I broke it in half to fit it in a trash bag. There was a moment of silence.

“That was sad,” I said.

“Yeah, that was really sad,” I replied. Here’s the guitar’s soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

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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.