LePage says he expects GOP to lose Maine Senate majority in November

Good morning from Augusta and another week of Maine politics. Don’t be fooled: The fact the holiday made this a short work week doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot going on. We’ll just have to wait and see.

It’s hard to imagine that the tumult that surrounded Gov. Paul LePage for his public comments during the past two weeks could be matched in either scope or fervor, but there are loose ends to tie up. Later today, Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves is expected to receive the results of a survey he launched last week of House members to determine if they are in favor of convening to discuss disciplinary measures against the governor.

As you’ve read, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have rejected the concept of returning to Augusta for a special session. That renders the Eves survey all but moot, though you can expect the results to be used as fodder by Democrats leading up to the election. Many have loudly called on LePage to resign and there’s really no reversing tack on that.

For his part, LePage has said he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. During his weekly radio appearance today on WVOM, he said he has moved on and spent most of the segment talking about his policy goals for the next two years, which are nothing new: Reduce taxes and energy costs, work on public infrastructure improvements, fight drugs and reduce social service waitlists.

“I look forward to the next two years as a honeymoon compared to the last two years,” said LePage, who has faced everything from a failed impeachment attempt to an ongoing federal lawsuit against him by Eves.

Given LePage’s confrontational history and the Democratic party unified solidly against him, there is no way we’re in for any kind of political honeymoon. All eyes are on the November elections and how they’ll affect the balance of power in the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate. LePage said today he is not expecting the situation to improve, at least from Republicans’ perspective.

“I expect to lose the Senate. The lack of action over the past two years, I think that’s going to hurt us,” said LePage in response to a question about whether the controversy surrounding him will hurt legislative Republican candidates at the polls.

It’s likely that LePage won’t help Republicans retain the Senate. He has said repeatedly that he will campaign against Senate Republicans with whom he’s clashed in the past couple of years. In fact, he already helped unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Linda Baker of Topsham by endorsing her opponent, Guy Lebida of Bowdoin, in the primary election for the Sagadahoc County Senate seat. Lebida faces former Democratic Sen. Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic.

Is this a new beginning for Maine politics? Just in case it is, here’s a soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Hydropower hurting: Gov. Paul LePage has urged Maine’s congressional representatives to take steps to deregulate what he called expensive and burdensome federal hydropower rules. LePage contends that three small hydropower facilities owned by the Kennebunk Light and Power District have an uncertain future because of the regulations. LePage, who testified in Congress in 2015 on the issue, wrote this latest letter in August.
  • Trump surrogate visit: Herman Cain, a Tea Party activist who was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, will visit Portland on Saturday, Sept. 17, in support of Donald Trump for president. The event, for which tickets cost $65 and up, kicks off at noon at Ocean Gateway.
  • Ranked-choice campaign committee: The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has announced its full campaign committee, which includes officials from every political stripe, in advance of Question 5 on the Nov. 8 ballot. The full list of the 40 committee members can be seen by clicking here.

Reading list

Milking for votes. And milk.

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed teats in the Daily Brief. My editors probably hope it will be the last.

In what has become a tradition at the Windsor Fair, 11 candidates participated in The Political Pull this past weekend to answer the crucial question of how much milk they can squeeze from a cow teat in three minutes. Check out this fun story from the Kennebec Journal.

“Oftentimes you will see a conservative milk in a very liberal fashion and a liberal candidate shy away from their opportunities,” said Augusta City Manager William Bridgeo, who emceed the event. I have no idea what that means but I’m guessing the cows are most interested.

The winner was Democratic Sen. Christopher Johnson of Somerville, who is seeking re-election to his Lincoln County seat. I have to note here that Johnson is one of the most serious and measured members of the Legislature who is known for his detailed but dryly delivered speeches. Objectively speaking, it’s comical to imagine him at the udder end of a cow. 

“[This event] might be embarrassing for us…” said Johnson after collecting his blue ribbon.

Those of us in the media are doing our best to help you out with that, Sen. Johnson. — Christopher Cousins

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.