LePage: Republicans who bucked Trump on health care should ‘go home’

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage is lining up with President Donald Trump and against many congressional Republicans after intra-party squabbling made leaders pull a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Friday.

The Republican governor was against the bill at its rollout early this month, but he went public in support of it on Thursday after Republicans made changes to the bill that he and other conservatives had asked for, such as an earlier wind-down of support for Medicaid expansion.

But conservatives wanted a fuller repeal, while a bloc of moderate Republicans including U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine opposed it after an estimate found that it would make 14 million people lose coverage by 2018 and increase premiums for many between ages 50 and 64.

On Thursday, LePage told WGAN that Republicans may have been moving too fast on health care. When asked if the bill was worthy of support, he said it was “improving.” But later that day, his office released a letter dated Wednesday in which he and other governors backed it with his spokeswoman calling it “a start.”

By Saturday, he was in war mode, telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that “any Republican that did not support this effort for fixing the ACA, I think they should lose the next election” and “Congress is broken” with a “constitutional crisis” looming.

“I think the American people elected Donald Trump to bring some change and some reform to this country and if the Republicans in Congress don’t realize it, it’s time for you go home,” LePage said.

The governor will be bartending for charity in Hallowell tonight, so we’ll try to ask him more — or at least ask him for a stiff drink. More on that in tomorrow’s Daily Brief. — Michael Shepherd

This Democrat could take on Poliquin in 2018

This time two years ago, Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin was facing a 2016 rematch from Democrat Emily Cain in Maine’s 2nd District. Now, he’s a second-term congressman, which has dampened chatter about the 2018 race.

Now, one Democrat is now talking about taking on Poliquin — Jonathan Fulford of Monroe, a construction company owner with a populist streak who said on Friday that he’s considering a run and may be is more likely to run for the 2nd District than any other public office in 2018.

Fulford is best-known statewide for losing two close races in 2014 and 2016 to Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, in Waldo County, a top legislative swing district.

He ran those races championing progressive causes such as universal health care and is from the wing of the party that pushed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to victory in Maine Democratic presidential caucuses in 2016. Fulford also ran unsuccessfully against Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett last year.

Fulford ran twice as a taxpayer-funded Clean Election candidate — which isn’t available for federal races — and wondered aloud if a Sanders-style campaign model built on small donations would be an option against Poliquin, who raised more than $3.3 million for 2016’s race.

Plus, he said there’s a lot to get “up to speed” at the federal level on before running and he noted the possibility of a political realignment in 2018. Both Collins and Poliquin haven’t ruled out gubernatorial runs that would send politicians scrambling into new primary battles.

“I’m in the early stages of looking at all those and then evaluating whether or not it makes sense for me to run or not or me to support somebody else or what makes sense,” Fulford said. “And I don’t have an answer yet.” — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

Reading list

My 6-year-old pities the fools from now on

Don’t judge me. I recently introduced my younger son to Mr. T, who has long been one of my favorite American icons. Despite his tough image, he’s a positive force on society and has done a lot of work to help kids. He’s currently a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, which I admit I haven’t watched but I’ve been following his tweets. Sounds like the competition isn’t going so well:

“To any and everybody who ever felt like quitting … Don’t quit!” he tweeted last night. “Try to get back up! Don’t stay down!”

On the A-Team, however, he’s just as likely to be punching bad guys in the face and driving that awesome red and black Chevy van like it’s a Ferrari. There are lots of explosions and gunfire but one truth about the show is no one ever gets hurt. The boy and I watched an episode the other night and I built Mr. T up, just like he deserved. The boy was impressed.

“Daddy, if you were Mr. T what would you do to the bad guys?” he said.

“I’d beat ‘em up!” I said. “What would you do?”

“If I was Mr. T I’d do a big belly flop right on them,” he said.

Obviously, he requires more training. Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

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.