Making the primary ballot is just the first hurdle in Maine’s long Blaine House race

Good morning from Augusta. Five candidates in the race to replace Gov. Paul LePage have qualified for the June primary ballot, with a deluge of other candidates expected to file petitions with the secretary of state’s office by Thursday’s deadline.

Three Republicans and two Democrats have already made it. Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, was the first to make the ballot in early February and Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, joined him on Friday. Their Republican rival, former Department of Health and Human Services Commission Mary Mayhew, qualified on Monday alongside two Democrats — Attorney General Janet Mills and Hallowell lobbyist Betsy Sweet.

Many others have scheduled times with the secretary of state’s office this week. Republican businessman Shawn Moody and two Democrats — former House Speaker Mark Eves and former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion — are expected to submit petitions on Wednesday, according to Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. In the race to replace U.S. Sen. Angus King, two Republicans — state Sen. Eric Brakey and financial planner Max Linn — are scheduled to turn in petitions on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. There is still plenty of time for other candidates to get them in.

But the results of this week will only set the primary field and more hurdles remain for some. Independents have until June 1 to submit twice the amount of signatures that party candidates for statewide office need. There are five of them running for governor now, including State Treasurer Terry Hayes. Mason is the only one of seven remaining candidates to qualify for Clean Election funding so far. Hayes and Sweet are the two most prominent hopefuls who haven’t yet qualified for public financing. The deadline for that is April 2. The 20-candidate herd will almost surely be thinned by then.

Correction: Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion has scheduled a time to submit petitions this week, not state Sen. Mark Dion. It was a reporter’s error.

LePage has vetoed a liquor license bill

The bill would grandfather certain restaurants that received licenses to manufacture or sell liquor before a law change regarding the required ownership breakdown of the business. LePage argues in his veto letter that LD 1725 would “create inequity” because it treats businesses that received a license prior to Jan. 1, 2018, differently from businesses that would seek licenses in the future. The bill passed unanimously through the Legislature.

Today in A-town

It’s snowing again. The state is open, but the legislative session and hearings scheduled for today are postponed, though legislative offices are open. We’re expecting another 12 to 18 inches in the Augusta area today. Here’s your reverse psychology soundtrack.

Reading list

  • The stage is set for the first large-scale mineral mining in Maine in 50 years. Canadian-based prospectors are studying an area near Pickett Mountain in northeastern Penobscot County to determine the feasibility of launching a large-scale metallic mining operation. It would be the first such operation in Maine since the state adopted new mining rules in 2017.
  • An Oxford County school board member has resigned after making offensive social media posts. The school board member, Bob Celeste of Harrison, quit the RSU 17 school board Thursday after parents complained about posts that targeted Muslims, denigrated black people and warned of “white genocide.”
  • A destroyer to be built at Bath Iron Works will be named after an Irish immigrant. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, announced Monday that the next Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be named after U.S. Marine Cpl. Patrick Gallagher, who immigrated from Ireland 1962 and was later awarded the Navy Cross for saving fellow soldiers by diving on a live grenade during the Vietnam War.
  • A Maine House of Representatives candidate called two Florida high school shooting survivors “skinhead lesbian” and a “baldfaced liar.” Republican Les Gibson of Sabattus levied those Twitter remarks toward Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, respectively, according to the Sun Journal. They have been outspoken advocates for gun control since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 students last month. Gibson apologized on Twitter before making an account private. He is running unopposed to succeed Rep. Stephen Wood, R-Sabattus.

Where not to hold a campaign event

Answer: Chocolate Easter bunny factories.

Donald Trump Jr. learned a little about photo trickery Monday when a photographer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette made an image that looks like Trump was being interviewed by a massive chocolate bunny.

“The chocolate rabbit gave a hard hitting interview and was delicious afterwards,” tweeted Trump afterwards.

Which begs the obvious question: Is Trump an ears-first bunny eater or does he start at the bottom? When I was a kid I always bit the head off first so the bunny wouldn’t suffer. Here’s Trump’s soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading this 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.