Meet Maine’s first 2018 gubernatorial candidate, but don’t expect him to win

Good morning from Augusta, where we think the first 2018 gubernatorial candidate deserves his own headline, even if said candidate is more likely to be the answer to a trivia question than the next governor.

It was Republican Deril Stubenrod of Clinton, who is the first one in after filing with the Maine Ethics Commission on Wednesday. But the reverend’s political past doesn’t inspire much confidence that he’ll be in the race for the long haul.

In 2014, he kicked off a run against then-state Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, but he left the race and was replaced. Instead, Stubenrod got 119 write-in votes — or 0.02 percent by the Bangor Daily News’ unofficial count — running against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who won re-election that year.

He has been posting various policy statements on his Facebook page. He is anti-abortion, but plans to support Planned Parenthood’s other health services. He thinks the “flag needs to fly at every school without exception.” He is also a New England Patriots fan.

We published a comprehensive list of potential candidates in December. Remember that 32 people filed in 2010 — including people you haven’t heard much from, including independents Alex Hammer, Augustus Edgerton and J. Martin Vachon — but only five made it onto the ballot. Stubenrod is somewhat different because he’s a party candidate.

The first organizational test comes between Jan. 1 and March 15 of next year, the period during which party candidates need to collect 2,000 signatures to qualify for the June 2018 primaries. The threshold is 4,000 for non-party candidates.

That often weeds most of the longshot candidates out, with only the most committed ones making it to November, like 2010 last-place finisher Kevin Scott. We’ll see if Stubenrod makes it to June. — Michael Shepherd

Brakey picks early fight with King over SCOTUS nominee

An inconspicuous two-paragraph statement of support for Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, landed in reporters’ inboxes on Thursday.

It was from state Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, who is expected to soon announce a 2018 run against U.S. Sen. Angus King, a independent former two-term Maine governor who caucuses with Democrats.

The first paragraph of the statement praises Gorsuch’s “unwavering commitment to our Constitution” and says he’ll “protect the rights and freedoms of the little guy, not the convenience and agendas of big government.”

But the second paragraph is all about King, with Brakey urging the freshman senator to “put the American people ahead of his partisan obligations to the Senate Democrat Caucus by supporting a swift vote” on Gorsuch.

King has only released a noncommittal statement on Gorsuch, he’ll “listen to the views” the nominee he expresses before a committee and “carefully evaluate his record to understand his judicial philosophy and temperament” before making “an independent judgment.”

The statement names Jessica Sorensen, a Republican strategist and fundraiser, as Brakey’s “senior adviser.” So, it’s a clear sign that he’s looking for a wedge issue before committing, even though he seems to have committed. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • So far, Collins and King aren’t leading the resistance to Trump. We’ve created a spreadsheet where you can follow the senators’ stances on Trump’s Cabinet-level nominees so far. They’ve voted to confirm the first four of Trump’s secretary picks, but King opposes four others and Collins has said she’ll vote against Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos.
  • Maine doctors urge Collins not to repeal Obamacare. A group of Maine medical professionals released a statement this week urging Collins to vote against repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “Without the safeguards of the ACA for things like pre-existing conditions, tens of thousands of Mainers would be effectively blocked from primary care. Sooner or later, less access to health care translates into death, disability, and financial ruin for families and communities,” wrote Dr. Sam Zager, a family physician at Martin’s Point Health Care in Portland. Collins voted against implementation of the ACA and for procedural efforts to repeal it, but has proposed a replacement for Obamacare.
  • The Maine Republican Party is watching us. The state party has rolled out an online form that Executive Director Jason Savage said in a video is intended to help the party track news that they perceive as biased in Maine’s weekly newspapers. — Michael Shepherd and Robert Long

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • Do politics matter that much? A 37-year-old man who tries to “stay youthful in thoughts” is looking for “a girl who basically is not a feminist or a leftist” to talk “randomly throughout the day.”
  • Lady in red … at the gas station: A man who saw a woman “looking for something sweet to buy” at a Winterport gas station says, “I would like to photograph you with your long black hair in a clothed photo session.” Glad he cleared up the clothed part. Your soundtrack is obvious. — Michael Shepherd
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.