Shawn Moody looks to ride outside lane in GOP primary to replace LePage

Good morning from Augusta. Businessman Shawn Moody will announce his run for governor on Tuesday with support from Gov. Paul LePage’s top allies, which is just one factor making his campaign one of the most intriguing in the 2018 race to replace the governor.

Remember LePage’s outsider run? Moody tried it, too. LePage easily won a crowded Republican primary in 2010, the year of the Tea Party, running as an outsider with some political experience as Waterville mayor. He beat a mix of politicians (longtime legislator Peter Mills, for example) and other businessmen (Les Otten and a pre-Congress and little-known Bruce Poliquin) before narrowly winning the general election. Moody, of Gorham, mounted a longshot independent bid as a “regular guy” outsider and finished in a distant fourth place.

LePage’s success has reared a new group of Republican politicians. Moody needs to beat some of the biggest names. Moody became a Republican in October and will run against four people owing their political rise to an improved climate for Republicans since 2010. Former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew of South China, Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport are the other Republicans in the race, so Moody has the outside lane to himself.

Moody shouldn’t be discounted, but there are ways his bid could falter. Moody’s campaign will be led by LePage strategist Brent Littlefield, who ran LePage’s 2010 and 2014 bids and knows Maine’s Republican primary audience well. But Moody’s policy positions aren’t well-known and weren’t vetted well during his 2010 campaign and he’ll have a lot to prove to primary voters, who skew conservative. For example, The Bollard’s 2010 voter guide said he didn’t support charter schools (LePage and Mason led the effort to establish them in 2011) and he was mostly “pro-choice” on abortion. There’s lots of work to do here. Here’s your soundtrack.

Auburn’s tight mayoral race gets a recount today

Mayor-elect Jason Levesque will see if he’ll take office after Tuesday’s recount. Levesque, a Republican, won the nonpartisan office in Maine’s fifth-largest city by just six votes over Democrat Adam R. Lee, according to unofficial Election Day totals. Lee requested a recount that will start at 9 a.m. today in the city council chambers at Auburn Hall. The winner will replace three-term Mayor Jonathan Labonte, a Republican who runs LePage’s policy office.

Reading list

  • Trade policy proposals by President Donald Trump would reduce the value of Maine’s lobster harvest. Maine’s catch, which exceeded $500 million in 2016, has risen every year since 2009. However, it could drop this year because of policies that put Maine at a disadvantage with Canada. Pending trade deals with Mexico, Canada and South Korea, pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a new trade deal between Canada and Europe are all reasons.
  • The most pedestrians were killed in Maine in 2017 than any year since 1994. The Maine Department of Transportation says 18 pedestrians were killed this year and that two more vehicle-related deaths of pedestrians in Portland and Augusta are under investigation. This is the fifth-deadliest year on record.
  • A jury deadlocked on 20 of 23 counts in the trial of a Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy accused of sexually abusing three girls. The lawyer of Kenneth Hatch said he was “extremely relieved” by Monday’s actions. An Augusta jury found him not guilty on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and furnishing marijuana to a minor, but they were hung on 20 other counts. It’s unclear whether Hatch will face another trial.
  • President Trump says he will declare North Korea ‘a state sponsor of terrorists.’ North Korea last made the U.S. list of terror sponsors in 2008. Part of the reason is that U.S. officials have deemed the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in a Malaysian airport earlier this year as an act of terrorism. Some state department officials have voiced disagreement.

Labonte, a Republican who runs LePage’s policy office.

Some Republicans were forgotten here

Republican Mark Holbrook, who is making his second straight run against U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, misfired in a fundraising email yesterday.

He called himself the “only” Republican to “ever run back-to-back campaigns” in that district, but that ignores the three Republicans to have held the seat in the past 35 years — James Longley Jr., John McKernan and David Emery.

To Holbrook’s credit, he took responsibility for the error in a tweet and said it should have been limited to campaigns against Pingree. Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd. 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.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.