Cote, Mayhew post strong fundraising totals in 2018 bids to replace LePage

Good morning from Augusta, where the first financial filings in Maine’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign confirmed that Democrat Adam Cote and Republican Mary Mayhew are on track to run formidable campaigns to replace Gov. Paul LePage.

They were the only major privately financed Blaine House candidates who declared their candidacies during the second quarter of 2017. Updated reports for that period were due to the Maine Ethics Commission on Monday.

Cote, a Sanford attorney, raised a total $265,000 between his April 19 announcement and June’s end, according to Monday filings with the Maine Ethics Commission. In a statement, Cote’s campaign compared his haul to former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s total of $313,000 at the same time in the Democrat’s failed 2014 race against Gov. Paul LePage.

That needs some context. While Michaud was the presumptive nominee and a sixth-term congressman, he raised that in less than a month. Still, it’s a good showing for Cote, who has to navigate a field with a political resume that only includes a 2008 congressional primary bid.

Mayhew, a former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner from South China, raised $91,000 through June’s end — a less impressive figure than Cote’s until you consider that she only announced her campaign on June 6. Her per-day total was higher.

There were no major surprises on either donor list: Cote got maximum $1,600 contributions from former Maine Democratic Party Chairman Kevin Mattson, Michaud 2014 campaign manager Matt McTighe and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli, while Mayhew got them from hotelier Peter Anastos and Maine Hospital Association President Steven Michaud.

The two are running in different primary environments now: Cote has to navigate a field with Attorney General Janet Mills of Farmington and former Maine House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick, while Mayhew is the only major Republican in so far. Other potential hopefuls await a decision from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on whether she’ll run. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • New filings didn’t tell us much new about Maine’s two 2017 referendum campaigns. The campaigns to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and approve a new York County casino didn’t move much during 2017’s second quarter. The main committee backing Medicaid expansion raised $85,000, with $75,000 of that coming from The Fairness Project, a national progressive group. The casino campaign — which is being investigated now by the ethics commission after an apparent violation of Maine campaign finance law — reported raising only another $7,000 from Lisa Scott, the effort’s front person. — Michael Shepherd
  • LePage’s approval rating hasn’t really changed since April, according a new round of polling from Morning Consult. The data-heavy news outlet released updated polls for all U.S. governors on Tuesday, finding LePage to be the nation’s ninth-most unpopular governor with a 48 percent disapproval rating in polling done between April and July. His approval rating was 47 percent. The governor was also ninth from the bottom in Morning Consult’s last round of polls, which was released in April. Still, LePage remains about as popular as he’s ever been. He reached a high of 47 percent in Critical Insights polling of fall of 2011. — Michael Shepherd
  • Lawmakers started the process of deciding how much bond money to approve but there’s a lot of work left to be done. The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee hosted an hours-long stream of people speaking Monday at a public hearing on a dozen bond bills that altogether would total more than $1 billion. However, with only enough money in the budget to make payments on $150 million of new bonding a year, only a few are expected to make it through. The LePage Administration favors borrowing for transportation infrastructure, research and development and student loan forgiveness. Appropriators are expected to return Wednesday to decide which bonds to recommend — and how much. According to Mal Leary over at Maine Public, some of the bond decisions, all of which require two-thirds support in the Legislature before going to referendum, may have to wait until next year. — Christopher Cousins

Today in A-town

The Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee held a long work session Monday and will continue today beginning at 9:30 a.m. It’s the only legislative committee meeting today. We’re going to watch the Wizard of Oz with the committee streaming in the background to see if there are any trippy coincidences, like there are with that movie and the Dark Side of the Moon album. We heard that works better now that pot is legal but alas, we’re working.

The action will begin to pick up again on Wednesday in preparation for what are expected to be marathon House and Senate sessions on Thursday. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

A miracle piped in from above

A Florida man named Jesus Armando Escobar walked away with only minor injuries over the weekend when a huge pipe fell from the sky and crushed his minivan, right over the driver’s seat. The photo with this Associated Press story is jaw-dropping.

The section of pipe plummeted from an overpass, where a tractor-trailer had hit a guardrail and lost some of its load. The Daily Brief offers this tale so you can appreciate that just about no matter how your work day is going, it could be a lot worse. Here’s your soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Programming note

The Daily Brief will be off on Wednesday. We’ll be back on Thursday, when the Legislature will be back for what could be its final day in 2017.

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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.