LePage will stump for Republican who wants to oust Elizabeth Warren

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage is on the campaign trail — in Massachusetts.

LePage, who as far as we know isn’t campaigning for any Maine candidates, will appear a week from today at a campaign fundraiser for Geoff Diehl, who is one of three Republicans vying to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. According to MassLive.com, LePage will speak, at a reception for Diehl at Waltham’s Chateau Restaurant on May 21.

Since state convention delegates voted to support him last month, Diehl is the Massachusetts Republican Party’s pick to face off against Warren in November and has already attracted the support of some high-ranking Republicans. They include former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who stumped for Diehl in April and praised him for being an early supporter of President Donald Trump.

Diehl, who has been a Massachusetts state legislator since 2011, is traveling throughout Massachusetts in a campaign RV, which he calls his “Diehl on Wheels” tour and is emphasizing constituent services as a way his membership in the Senate would differ from Warren’s. He promises to institute a mobile U.S. Senate office if elected.

LePage isn’t actively campaigning for anyone in Maine, as far as we know. Though his political apparatus is squarely behind Shawn Moody in the governor’s race, LePage has demurred when asked if he will endorse any of the candidates, and though he is politically aligned with Republican 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin — who is up for re-election this year — he hasn’t officially endorsed him. LePage has also been publicly silent about state Sen. Eric Brakey’s campaign against independent U.S. Sen. Angus King.

LePage’s stumping for someone two states away is curious but not shocking. He’s a frequent guest of Massachusetts-based conservative talk radio host Howie Carr, who is a darling of the Bay State’s small but vocal conservative base, which will play an oversized role in this year’s primary. Given the governor’s unflinching support for Trump and the fact Warren is rumored to be considering a 2020 presidential run, LePage could simply be trying to ding the armor of a top Democrat.

Can Maine better serve at-risk children?

Lawmakers expect to receive the results of a high-profile investigation of Maine’s child protective services later this month. The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee is due to review the report from the watchdog Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability during its May 24 meeting. In the wake of the deaths of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy in Stockton Springs in February and the December death of 4-year-old Kendall Chick of Wiscasset, the committee voted in March to launch probes into Maine’s child welfare system and specifically, the state’s handling of those two cases.

A more extensive report report could come next year. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has been under scrutiny since the girls were allegedly killed by their caregivers, particularly Kennedy, who was the subject of reports from the Bangor School Department with concerns about her wellbeing. LePage has also blamed DHHS for a “comedy of errors.”

LePage’s pick for state police chief advances

Lt. Col. John Cote, who has been nominated by LePage to lead the Maine State Police, received a warm welcome Friday from the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee. According to the Legislative Information Office, the committee voted unanimously to endorse the nomination of Cote, who now goes to the full Maine Senate for confirmation. Cote would replace former Chief Robert Williams, who left the post in March to become head of security at Colby College in Waterville.

Reading list

  • The legal work of Maine’s attorney general has taken on a much more political tinge in the past year. But Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, says it’s not because she’s running for governor. Mills, who has for years sparred with LePage over his policies and the role her office should play in defending or blocking them, said that she has signed on to more national lawsuits and legal actions because she believes Trump’s policies and initiatives could be harmful to Maine.
  • In the eight years since he ran for governor as an independent, Shawn Moody concluded that if he ran again, it would have to be as a member of a political party. The Gorham businessman registered as a Republican last year and is now one of four candidates for that party’s nomination to run in November to succeed LePage. He said his political philosophy has always aligned more with Republican values and that Maine’s political climate has changed since 1994, the last time an independent won the governor’s race.
  • Maine lobsters are great, but they won’t last forever. With scientists anticipating an end to the boom that has continued since 1990, the state’s fisheries industry is already looking to the next wave of potential delicacies from the Gulf of Maine. Jonah crab and sea bass rank near the top of Maine’s next potential ocean-based cash crop.
  • A man who killed his wife and buried her in a shallow grave in Fairfield with a bottle of cologne called “Guilty” was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Before imposing the sentence on Friday, Robert Mullen said he was “disgusted by the web of lies” that Luc Tieman concocted to cover up the killing of his wife, Valerie Tieman, in August 2016. Her father called the killer “a coward” but the disabled veteran’s mother asked for “understanding” due to his post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • A topless dance club near a shuttered Maine paper mill  is being demolished to make way for a gun shop and shooting range. La Casa on the strip between Millinocket and East Millinocket is being torn down so its new owner can build an indoor shooting range. Click here to read about its colorful past. And here is one last soundtrack.

Fowl play

The neighbors asked my kid to feed their chickens and now most of the chickens are dead.

They entrusted the safety of their four hens and cat to my 13-year-old son, who takes the job very seriously. It’s easy: he locks the chicken coop at sundown and opens it up in the morning. The chickens just roam around the yard all day pecking stuff. Well, they used to.

On Saturday, both of my boys went on a bike ride and at least three of the chickens were in the yard when they went past the first time. On the way back 30 minutes later, the scene was much different. His voice was all shaky when the 13-year-old called on his cellphone.

“Some of the chickens are dead. There are feathers everywhere,” he said.

“I’m coming down,” I replied. I already had this song stuck in my head.

It was near dusk and as I pulled into the driveway, my headlights swept across my boys’ faces and I saw something in them I know now I never wanted to see. They were pale and full of misery, like they’d just seen a natural disaster. There was blood and feathers and two chicken corpses in the yard, one without a head. I immediately started writing this Daily Brief item in my head.

“Why does this have to happen when I’m taking care of them?” my boy kept asking.

I must admit a chicken dinner crossed my mind. We went back after dark and somehow, one of the chickens survived, resulting in the following tally: Two dead, one missing and one very, very lonely. Oh, and two boys changed forever.

Early this morning, I heard a ruckus from wild turkeys in my yard. I looked out and saw them streaking toward the woods with a fox close behind. I’ll be keeping my cat inside. Here’s your soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

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

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but email us directly at ccousins@bangordailynews.com, mshepherd@bangordailynews.com or rlong@bangordailynews.com.


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.