Good morning from Augusta, where you won’t find many of the candidates in Tuesday’s major primary elections. But those candidates in tomorrow’s race for Maine governor and the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District were pushing for last-minute votes across Maine on Monday from Madawaska to York County.
Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates increased cooperation over the weekend and will appear together again on Monday. One of the most interesting developments of Maine’s first ranked-choice voting campaign has been the cooperation between former House Speaker Mark Eves and lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who have been urging people who vote for them first to rank the other second on Tuesday. One of Sweet’s campaign managers, Stephanie Clifford, said that Sweet and Eves were running joint canvasses over the weekend.
They’ll also appear together at a Portland news conference at 10:30 a.m. today to “jointly endorse” a yes vote on Question 1, which would preserve ranked-choice voting in primary and congressional elections (even though all seven Democrats running for governor are on the record as supporting it).
We have no context for how ranked-choice wrangling will work, but Sweet and Eves are likely trying to tamp down mid-round support for Attorney General Janet Mills, who has been the nominal front-runner for much of the race, though attorney Adam Cote has come on strong at the end and may now be Mills’ top rival.
Two Republican candidates for governor will be in the Bangor area and another will be knocking on doors. They won’t be together unless they run into each other, but Shawn Moody and former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew are both planning to be in and around Greater Bangor on Monday.
Moody will be doing a downtown walk in Bangor from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Then, he’ll head across the Penobscot River to Brewer for by lunch at Mason’s Brewing Company in Brewer and a tour of W.S. Emerson Co., an apparel company. Mayhew will also be doing business tours in Bangor with former state Rep. Doug Damon.
Moody and Mayhew led the Republican field in the only public poll of the race in early May, but Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason is seen by many as a dark horse. He’s knocking on doors in his hometown of Lisbon today and told WGAN this weekend that his campaign will knock on 70,000 doors by Monday’s end — a massive sum equaling more than half of Republican turnout in the party’s wave year of 2010.
The fourth candidate, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, has legislative business in Augusta, but will be campaigning for part of the day.
Mills, Cote and the front-runners in the 2nd District are taking different tacks. Mills has no public events scheduled on Monday, while Cote spokeswoman Monica Castellanos said her boss is doing a “downtowns and diners” swing from Bath this morning to the Portland Fish Exchange to Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach and a loop through York County.
The 2nd District primary for the Democratic nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is looking like a two-way race between conservationist Lucas St. Clair and Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden, though Isleboro bookseller Craig Olson is also running.
St. Clair spokesman David Farmer said St. Clair is spending most of Monday “on the phones,” while Golden was scheduled to start the day at 5 a.m. in Madawaska greeting workers at the Twin Rivers Paper Co. mill gate and will have an event later today in Bangor.
LePage complains about ballot question wording
Republicans’ efforts to derail ranked-choice voting continue. Their opposition to the concept goes back years at this point and now that the election is upon us, their chorus of discontent is growing louder. Gov. Paul LePage sent a letter to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap last week expressing disappointment over the “lack of clarity” in Question 1 on tomorrow’s ballot. He argued that “most voters” don’t have time to research the implications of the question and “it is unreasonable to assume that they do so.”
The Maine Republican Party is also in full opposition to the continuation of RCV and has been issuing releases and sending messages to its members for weeks. The Committee on Ranked Choice Voting has pushed back against those messages, releasing a fact sheet Friday laying out why it argues this won’t be as difficult as opponents suggest.
Budget panel plans another meeting
The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee is scheduled to reconvene today at 1 p.m. As we’ve learned, that means the committee to come together sometime between 1 p.m. and never. When the committee last met on May 31, it convened seven hours later than its scheduled start time and voted on only three bills for consideration by the full Legislature, leaving the bulk of its work undone. There has been no sign that members of the committee have broken their impasse over a bill to fund administrative costs for Medicaid expansion or settled on a bond package to send to voters in November, but maybe the fact that more voters are likely tuned into politics today will push the process along. We’ll see.
- Here’s how the Bangor Daily News will report election results. For the first time, the BDN will conduct exit polling and partner with a national organization, Decision Desk HQ, to deliver and analyze results. Results in ranked-choice voting elections could take longer to see. Here’s what to expect the experience to be like after the polls close and in the following days.
- Are you panicked about how and where to vote tomorrow? The BDN has you covered. As has become a tradition for us, we’ve put together a tip sheet of just about everything you need to know to vote tomorrow, including how to find your polling location, how to ranked-choice vote and links to dozens of Bangor Daily News stories about a number of races.
- We’ve analyzed where the gubernatorial candidates have had the most fundraising success. It showed that while some candidates lead in the total money raised, others are doing better when it comes to widespread financial support. The latter could be a stronger indicator of voter sentiment than the former.
- Two Democrats who represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District for 20 years combined shared their views on what the party must do to win it back. Former U.S. Reps. John Baldacci and Mike Michaud suggested that whoever wins the party’s three-person primary Tuesday to challenge Poliquin will have to try to portray himself as being more attuned to the rural district’s working-class values and hope that national dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump will eat into the significant advantages that incumbency and a big pile of campaign cash provide to the Republican seeking his third term.
- Foundations run by wealthy liberal advocates are laying out most of the cash used in ads to convince Maine voters to retain ranked-choice voting. The Chamberlain Project Ballot Committee has led fundraising in support of a “yes” vote on Tuesday’s people’s veto ballot question that would thwart a legislative effort to delay — and pave the way for the demise of — the ranked-choice election system endorsed by voters in a 2016 referendum. Jonathan Soros, son of noted liberal campaign underwriter George Soros, and Peter Ackerman, who has helped fund campaigns to improve the chances of independent candidates, rank among the top donors to the campaign to preserve ranked-choice voting.
- A veteran elected official’s run for governor could run him out of politics for now. State Sen. Mark Dion appears to be trailing among the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for the gubernatorial race, but he hasn’t counted himself out yet. Unabashedly progressive on the campaign trail, Dion hints that supporters are already urging him to seek another high-profile elected office if his Blaine House run fails.
- A political gadfly who got bounced from this year’s U.S. Senate campaign in Maine is already gearing up for one in 2020. A federal judge on Friday rejected Republican Max Linn’s last-ditch effort to overturn his disqualification from Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. It was the latest in a series of court defeats for the Bar Harbor resident who had previously run for governor as an independent and for Congress as a Democrat in Florida. After learning of his latest legal loss, Linn — who brands himself as “Trump Strong’ — tweeted that he would run in 2020 against moderate Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
- A statue honoring one of Maine’s most beloved critters is undergoing a facelift. Rockport residents and other fans of Andre the seal are raising money to fix cracks and other deterioration of the limestone statue created in 1978 to honor the marine mammal whose antics and friendship with Harry Goodridge led to books, films and a cottage industry. Spearheaded by a group called Legacy Rockport, the $14,000 restoration is due to be completed in August.
You think voting is hard now
We’ve received a lot of comments and questions from readers who are perplexed by ranked-choice voting and other vagaries of this year’s election.
But it could be worse. Much worse.
As Jill Lepore notes in this delightful history of American elections, voters at one time had to bring their own paper ballots, then run a gauntlet of paid party thugs and hooligans to cast them.
In the early 1800s, a candidate “had to pay party leaders a hefty sum to put his name on the ballot and to cover the costs of printing tickets, buying votes, and hiring thugs, called ‘shoulder-strikers,’ to tussle with voters,” Lepore wrote.
As the 19th century progressed, ballots became larger and more colorful to make it easier for the “shoulder strikers” to know which voters to intimidate.
In 1831, Maine — ever the bastion of clean elections — passed a law requiring “that all ballots be printed on the same color paper, to protect voters trying to cast minority ballots in a polling place besieged by rowdy members of the majority.”
So if you find yourself scratching your head when confronted Tuesday with a ranked-choice ballot, at least take solace in the fact that no one is trying to rip it out of your hands. Here is your soundtrack. — Robert Long
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.
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