Editor’s note: Regular Daily Brief readers will notice that we’re rolling out a new format today. We’re making the newsletter shorter, breezier and (hopefully) more useful to you. As always, email politics@bangordailynews with feedback or tips. Now, on to the news.
Good morning from Augusta, where a prospective candidate taking a picture in front of what looks a flag doesn’t necessarily mean they’re running … yet.
A big-name Republican took that patriotic picture, but he’s still on ‘Team Collins.’ Lobbyist Josh Tardy of Newport, who has been considering a run to replace Gov. Paul LePage since last year, posed for a portrait in front of a flag backdrop on Wednesday. When asked by the BDN via text if he was preparing for a run, he replied with “Lol” and “I’m still on the collins team!” — meaning he’s waiting for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, the moderate Republican who is mulling a run and will decide by month’s end.
The intrigue? That portrait was taken by former Maine Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis, a Collins loyalist who worked for Steve Abbott’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Abbott is Collins’ chief of staff. It made Democratic operative and D.C.-exiled Mainer Ben Goodman say “hmm” on Twitter.
The King of Horror almost certainly won’t run
Former Gov. John Baldacci wants author Stephen King to run for governor. “I would be out there handing out fliers and putting on bumper stickers for him,” the Democrat told The Washington Examiner this week. King is an outspoken Democrat, but this is a pipe dream. The Bangorian was a pushed to run in 2015 and issued a Shermanesque statement.
Nine months after the retirement of ConnectME Authority executive director Phil Lindley, his deputy, Lisa Leahy, has also stepped down and neither have been replaced as state officials consider whether the private sector might be able to improve Maine broadband access.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and ConnectME issued such a request on Tuesday. A private entity chosen for this project would improve broadband access in the process of connecting state government offices and other public facilities.
Both moves could foretell changes for the state broadband investment agency. Gov. Paul LePage sought to bring ConnectME under DECD in his two-year budget plan.
- The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has prohibited the release of information about the state’s opiate crisis. A researcher has compiled information on how many of the 376 people in Maine who died from a drug overdose had contact with a doctor soon before. But the data is state property and the department has prohibited the Bangor Daily News or the researcher from publishing it and doing so would be a Class C crime.
- Maine’s U.S. senators opposed another round of military base closures. In the most recent round, a commission created to cut costs by closing bases voted to shutter Brunswick Naval Air Station. Collins and independent Sen. Angus King don’t want to see facilities in Kittery and Limestone threatened with the chopping block.
- Maine’s high court will decide whether medical marijuana should be covered by workers compensation. The case involving a Madawaska paper millworker is the first time the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has tackled the issue.
- Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap ripped the vice chairman of the commission President Donald Trump created to study voter fraud for making what the Maine Democrat called “absurd” claims of illegal voting in New Hampshire.
- President Donald Trump had dinner last night with top Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives, who emerged to say they had a framework for a deal to save young immigrants from deportation. Trump tweeted that there’s “no deal’ yet, but he also wondered why people would want to “throw out good, educated and accomplished young people.”
My wife’s potty mouth, in disguise
My family and I were watching “American Pickers” last night, a show where the characters search for antiques and other valuable items to purchase. In last night’s episode, they were visiting an eccentric artist who had a motorcycle that looked like a full-sized cow.
“That’d be a great motorcycle for you, babe,” I told my wife.
“It’s fugly,” she said.
“Mom!” said our 7-year-old. “You said a bad word.”
“I did NOT say a bad word,” she said.
That satisfied our son, but I cast what I’ll call a knowing grin at my wife.
“You shut up,” she said.
“Mom!” said the boy. Here’s her soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Christopher Cousins with Darren Fishell and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.