It’s beginning to look a lot like … campaign season

Good morning from Augusta, where there’s not much going on this week but Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office is poised and ready to kick the 2018 election season into gear.


Most state offices, including Dunlap’s, remain closed today. We were going to check on when Boxing Day became a state holiday. But state offices are closed, so no one can answer our question.

Maybe it’s because too many state employees had Christmas crepes on both Sunday and Monday, like a member of the Daily Brief team did. Here’s our soundtrack.

Anyhow, the secretary of state’s office will begin distributing nomination petition forms to candidates for public office beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Primary candidates from the parties must have the paperwork returned by March 15 and independents have until May 25. For ballot access, they must collect 25 signatures if running for the Maine House or at least 2,000 signatures to run for governor or U.S. senator.

However, the primary and general election ballots have already been taking shape for months as candidates announced their intentions. We’ve been keeping you updated on those races here in the Daily Brief and if you’re interested (or still under the influence of crepes) you can see the entire list of declared candidates at the Maine Ethics Commission’s website.

A Democratic primary is brewing that may decide a key Senate race in Portland. One bit of news in regard to the 2018 election is due to Portland Sen. Mark Dion, a Democrat, and his bid for his party’s nomination for governor. He’s leaving the Maine Senate seat he’s held since 2016 vacant to run for governor, and two familiar faces to Portland residents could square off for the Democratic Party nomination to replace him. Jill Duson, a veteran city councilor who re-took her at-large seat on the Portland City Council against two challengers in November, has filed papers to oppose Rep. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, who is also vying for the Senate seat.

That’s but one race among dozens. The entire Legislature is up for re-election next year, along with the governor’s office and a number of other elected positions. It’s a little early for this but we’ll go out on a limb and make an early New Year’s resolution: We’ll keep you posted. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

  • Maine’s rep to Trump’s voter fraud commission won a battle. On Friday, a federal judge said Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is entitled to see copies of working papers and other documents that have been generated by the 11-member Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Dunlap, a Democrat on the commission, claimed in a November lawsuit that he and others had been denied access to the materials.
  • Three heavily polluted sites in Maine — including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard — are vulnerable to flooding due to climate change. Over three decades following World War II, industrial wastes were buried in fill changing several islands into one. But if the Gulf of Maine’s surface level rises by 6 feet as it could by 2100, they could become islands again. The former Callahan Mine in Brooksville and a former salvage yard in Augusta are also vulnerable.
  • Ellsworth wants the federal government to plug Acadia National Park’s $71 million maintenance hole. The city council in Hancock County’s economic hub passed a resolve last week urging Congress to find a way to address the $11.33 billion maintenance backlog in parks nationwide. Acadia’s share of that is $71 million.
  • This Maine man was alone, on fire with a broken back in remote Quebec, 900 miles north of Montreal. This is non-political, but amazing. The BDN’s Troy R. Bennett tells the story of Eric Foster of Benton, who crashed his motorcycle on a remote access road in northern Quebec and was rescued by two trappers. He got back to the site in June — marked by a pair of his pants and underwear in a tree. It has become a waymark for riders trying to find the road’s end.

Programming note

A reminder: The political cupboard is bare and vacation time is waiting to be used, so the Daily Brief will publish on Thursday, then return to its daily routine next Tuesday, Jan. 2. We’ll have all kinds of tidbits to get you excited about the return of the 128th Legislature. Here’s your soundtrack.

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


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.