A Maine Democrat’s day in the national convention spotlight

Good morning from downtown Gardiner, where it’s already hot and I’m feeling the effects of a sunburn from a weekend on Webb Pond in Hancock County.

But I’ll power through, because it’s my job to tell you about the Maine delegation feeling the Bern in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention.

The roll call vote to nominate Hillary Clinton will start tonight, but Maine’s delegation is heavy with supporters of Bernie Sanders, the progressive underdog who has endorsed Clinton.

He’s trying to quell an uprising from some angry supporters at the convention, where he spoke last night. I wrote yesterday about how Maine Republicans are following Republican nominee Donald Trump in trying to stoke Democratic division between the Clinton and Sanders camps.

But one of yesterday’s loudest voices of unity was state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, a Sanders delegate who was picked to speak on behalf of his campaign in support of rules watering down the party’s system of “superdelegates” — the party officials who can vote for any candidate at the national convention.

It was a fight that began with a rule change at the state convention that spread to 18 other states and got Russell a mention in leaked emails from Democratic National Committee officials, one of whom called the Maine change a “lunacy.”

Still, Russell put her best unified face on for the speech on Monday evening, which came just over a month after she was dealt a devastating loss by fellow Rep. Ben Chipman in a Maine Senate primary after a nasty campaign.

“Whether you support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, we are all in this together and we will all have a voice in the Clinton administration,” she said.

But we’ll see if this extends to the rest of the Maine delegation. A Vermont reporter said Maine’s delegation was “feistiest” at a breakfast meeting with other New England Democrats today and Sanders’ name is expected to be placed in nomination.

He won’t win, but it could provide his supporters with an opportunity for a last stand. We’ll see if Maine is on the edge of it. — Michael Shepherd

Legislative races set in stone after replacement deadline

Monday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for Maine’s political parties to replace legislative primary winners who later withdrew from their races. Of the 35 Republican and Democratic candidates who withdrew, just 24 were replaced.

Among the notable replacements and omissions were:

  • Former U.S. Rep. David Emery, a Republican from Tenant’s Harbor, who will face Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, in a bid to be the first former member of Congress since 1880 to return to the Maine Legislature.
  • Retired University of Maine at Farmington President Theodora Kalikow is entering the political arena as a Democrat to challenge freshman Rep. Karen Vachon, R-Scarborough.
  • In a win for Democrats, Lewiston Police Chief William Welch wasn’t replaced with another Republican after dropping out of his race against Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, who barely won his seat in 2014. The Maine Ethics Commission has said Welch falsified signatures to qualify for public financing.
  • Former Rep. Jane Pringle, D-Windham, dropped out of a race for her old seat and wasn’t replaced, locking up a second term for freshman Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham.
  • Democrats won’t challenge Sen. Kimberley Rosen, R-Bucksport, after Emery Deabay of Bucksport dropped out.

A note for you data nerds: We’re going to update our Senate and House maps later today to reflect open seats and new candidates. Expect some changes. — Michael Shepherd 

Quick hits

  • Gov. Paul LePage’s office has asked Attorney General Janet Mills for $5,000 to fight her Freedom of Access Act case against the administration, according to Paul Merrill of WMTW. LePage’s spokeswoman and top attorney haven’t responded to requests for comment on this issue from the Bangor Daily News since Friday. Mills’ office didn’t respond to a Monday message. The first court hearing in the case was scheduled for yesterday, but it was postponed.
  • LePage is sparring with the Legislature’s top Democrat again, this time over private road washouts in Somerset County, according to the Morning Sentinel. Flash flooding in June damaged private access roads to more than 100 camps off of U.S. Route 201 between The Forks and Jackman. House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, asked LePage for emergency help, to which the governor responded with a letter saying he would call the Legislature back to pass a funding bill, but only if House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, agrees. They’ve sparred over LePage’s past calls for a special session. But Rep. Larry Dunphy, U-Embden, told the Sentinel that public funding for private roads could set a bad precedent. Here’s your soundtrack.
  • LePage will visit South Paris for his next town hall meeting on Wednesday. It’ll be at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Randy Quaid’s ‘Bernie or bust’

In one of the highlights of Monday’s Democratic convention, comedian Sarah Silverman — who supported Sanders in the primary — admonished protesting Sanders supporters upset over Clinton , telling “Bernie or bust” people that “you’re being ridiculous.”

No one told actor Randy Quaid, who began living in Vermont under bizarre circumstances last year. In a video posted to Twitter, he said he was “glad as hell” for the Democratic National Committee email leaks, saying Sanders “must disavow” his Clinton endorsement.

“Hell no, Bernie!” he said. “We won’t vote for Email-llary!”

It’s just the kind of cogent analysis we need from Cousin Eddie in a 2016, after Chachi’s speech at the Republican convention. I’d pay to see that panel discussion on the Sunday shows. — 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.