Ted Cruz to get dozens of Maine endorsements on Thursday

Good morning from Augusta, where a large group of Republican legislators and activists is set to endorse presidential hopeful Ted Cruz on Thursday.

Between 40 and 50 legislators will hold a noon news conference at the State House to announce support for the Texas senator, who won the Iowa caucuses on Monday, finishing ahead of runner-up Donald Trump and the third-place Marco Rubio.

It’s the first large-scale round of endorsements in Maine so far in the unsettled Republican race here. Trump led the field in the only Maine poll released in October and has a large lead in neighboring New Hampshire, whose primaries are Tuesday.

Little information on the Cruz event was released yesterday by Maine House Republicans spokesman Rob Poindexter, but he said Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls and Reps. Dale Crafts of Lisbon and Joel Sketkis of Canaan were organizing it.

In an interview, Crafts said Cruz has the money and organization to win the White House, praising the candidate’s outsider pitch.

“I’m a little tired of the establishment myself,” Crafts said. “He’s certainly not the establishment.”

This probably won’t be the only round of legislative endorsements: House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, is chairing Rubio’s Maine campaign and Poindexter tweeted yesterday that the Florida senator has “as many or more” supporters in the House as Cruz does.

But these legislators are Cruzin’, so here’s your soundtrack.

Gallup: Maine no longer a Democratic state

Republicans were very excited about new data released by Gallup on Wednesday that it said turned Maine from a state that leaned Democratic to a competitive one with a slight Republican advantage.

Maine was one of three states that Democrats lost in the polling firm’s surveys of all 50 states, along with Pennsylvania and Michigan.

This year’s Gallup survey of nearly 1,100 Mainers found that 42.5 percent identified as Republicans or leaning Republican, compared to just 38.8 percent for Democrats. It was a flip from Gallup’s 2014 numbers, which pegged Democrats at 43.6 percent support to Republicans’ 38.4 percent.

There wasn’t as much change in how Mainers saw themselves politically, though: This year, 35.4 percent saw themselves as conservatives, 36.5 percent as moderates and 24.2 percent as liberals, compared to 34.3 percent, 37 percent and 24.9 percent in 2014, respectively.

Brent Littlefield, a GOP political consultant who does work for Gov. Paul LePage, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of the 2nd District and the Maine Republican Party, cited the survey as evidence that his party’s conservative stances “are resonating with voters.”

But Maine has always been friendly to certain Republicans. Look at U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and former Sen. Olympia Snowe — moderates who sit among Maine’s most popular politicians this generation — for proof.

Democrats last won statewide office in 2006, although you could make the argument that U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent and former two-term governor who caucuses with Democrats, is close enough.

But they’ve still carried every presidential election here since 1992. Republicans think things may have changed enough to flip Maine in 2016, but that remains to be seen. — Michael Shepherd

 Quick hits

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • Hat tip to Senate Republicans spokeswoman Jamie Logan for flagging this toy chimpanzee being sold with a playpen for $25 in Biddeford. “The number of photos is truly disturbing,” Logan said. Agreed. There are 23 photos of the chimp in different poses, including many close-ups.
  • A man thought a young lady in the check-out line in the Waterville Wal-Mart wearing “a belly shirt and PJs” and “buying chips and gummies” was “so hot.” Actually, it’s February, so her midriff was probably cold.
  • Someone in Waterboro is offering “some kinde of sword” shaped like a lightning bolt. OK. — 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.