Cruz, Kasich may be teaming up to stop Trump. That didn’t happen in Maine

Good morning from Augusta, where Monday’s news of Gov. Paul LePage’s private school reform commission meeting (which violated open-meeting law, according to Attorney General Janet Mills) conjured a soundtrack that definitely doesn’t reflect what happened at the Blaine House.

But first, we’ll turn our attention to the presidential politics that the governor was heavily involved in over the weekend at the Maine Republican Party’s convention.

Monday began with The New York Times reporting a deal between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich aimed at stopping billionaire Donald Trump, whom both are trailing in the race, from getting the party’s nomination before the national convention in July.

Kasich would stop campaigning in Indiana ahead of the May 3 primary and head to New Mexico and Oregon in a bid to give each candidate head-to-head races with Trump. However, the deal frayed just hours after it was announced, with Kasich saying Indiana voters should still vote for him.

But the interesting piece of the deal is that it was directly opposed to what happened at Maine’s convention, where supporters of Cruz lined up against Trump and Kasich.

Cruz supporters ended up getting 19 of Maine’s 23 delegate slots to the national convention by electing a campaign-approved slate except for one notable exception, Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump supporter.

This was a loss for Trump and Kasich, who aligned behind LePage’s “unity ticket” proposal that would have proportioned delegates according to Maine’s March caucus results, where Cruz won 12 delegates to Trump’s nine and Kasich’s two.

Those delegates will have to vote that way on a first ballot at the national convention, but if Trump doesn’t have the delegates needed to get the nomination after that, they could vote for any candidate on a second ballot.

Now, Trump’s just off-track for having the nomination wrapped up by then. But tonight, we’ll know a lot more about whether this wrangling will have an effect. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island all hold primaries today and Trump could widen his lead. — Michael Shepherd

LePage vetoes Clean Elections funding advance

A funding advance to Maine’s taxpayer-funded election system for the 2016 elections is in a tenuous spot after being vetoed by LePage on Monday.

The Maine Clean Election Fund was strengthened by voters in November and is being used by 70 percent of legislative candidates, up from 53 percent in 2014. That includes more than half of Republican candidates in 2016.

But it’s maligned by many Republicans: The governor called 2015’s referendum “a scam,” has long called the program “welfare for politicians” and once tried to defund it, while state Republicans adopted an anti-Clean Election platform plank on Friday.

Now, there’s $4.1 million in the fund, which Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said may not be enough to make payments to all of this year’s legislative candidates. If the fund runs out mid-election, candidates could raise private money.

To fix that, the Legislature approved a six-month advance of $500,000 to the fund, scheduling that payment for June instead of January 2017. But LePage took a dim view of it in a veto letter, calling it “robbing future funding to pay for current costs.”

The Legislature will vote to override a host of LePage vetoes on Friday. Democrats may not have the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to do so — it only passed the House with two Republicans supporting it. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • Assistant House Minority Leader Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, will be a delegate to the Republican National Convention after the state party found a vote tabulation error from Saturday’s convention.. It won’t change much: She’s a Cruz supporter replacing another Cruz supporter who was the announced winner.
  • LePage will hold a town hall meeting in Damariscotta on Wednesday. It’ll be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Great Salt Bay Community School on Main Street.

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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.