Stuff your stockings with these Maine political tchotchkes

Good morning from Augusta. We’re beginning this week with many tidbits and not much big news, so consider this an early stocking full of political miscellany to preview what will be a big political week from Congress to Alabama to the city of Lewiston.

  • U.S. Sen. Susan Collins doesn’t know where she’ll come down on Congress’ final tax bill. The Maine Republican told CBS’ “Face The Nation” on Sunday that she’s “confident” that President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, will keep a promise to her to offset the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate by passing two other bills to stabilize the law — even though House Republicans are cool to them. She also said that she’ll wait until the House of Representatives and Senate reconcile their tax bills before making a “final decision” on it. A conference committee between the chambers is expected to start work this week and could finish it by week’s end, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore told hard-line Maine conservatives that getting rid of all constitutional amendments after the 10th would ‘eliminate many problems.’ CNN dug up a clip of the Alabama Republican from 2011 on the “Aroostook Watchmen” show saying “some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.” The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments prohibited slavery, declared that everyone born in the U.S. is a citizen and prohibit denying the right to vote based on race. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. You may remember the Aroostook Watchmen show from a 2014 controversy about their contact with Gov. Paul LePage. Nine women are now accusing Moore of sexual misconduct — including one who said he disrobed her when she was 14 — but he’s still favored to win Tuesday’s special election in deep-red Alabama over Democrat Doug Jones.
  • It’s LePage vs. Sanders in the Lewiston mayoral race. LePage was in Lewiston on Thursday to campaign for Republican mayoral candidate Shane Bouchard, who is taking on Democrat Ben Chin in a Tuesday runoff election in Maine’s second-largest city. But Chin got a boost on Friday in an endorsement video from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the runner-up in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

There’s a new member of the Legislature

Rick Mason has joined the House in place of his late wife, Gina. After Gina Mason died suddenly in September at age 57, Rick Mason of Lisbon Falls won her seat in the November election to keep it in Republican and family hands. LePage swore in Rick Mason last week during a ceremony at the State House. The Masons’ son, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, was present for the ceremony. That makes Mason the third member of his extended family to represent Lisbon in the Maine House of Representatives, counting Gina and her cousin, Dale Crafts, who held the seat before she won it in 2016.

And another legislator wants a promotion

A first-term Portland legislator and brewery owner is running for an open Senate seat. Rep. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, is the first candidate to file to run for the seat to be vacated in 2018 by Sen. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who is running for governor. Sanborn easily won her 2016 race to represent parts of Portland and Falmouth and would be favored to win Dion’s seat if she makes it to the general election. She co-owns Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland.

Reading list

  • The October wind storm caused more damage than we first thought. Approximately 500,000 Central Maine Power customers were left in the dark at the peak of the outages in the late-October storm, but that’s not all. CMP has now revealed that its $200 million smart-grid communications network, which is designed to help restore outages, went down as well. At about noon on the Monday of the storm, the system of smart meters on customers’ homes stopped sending data.
  • Collins said on Sunday that she’s ‘disappointed’ by the Republican National Committee’s decision to back Moore again. The senator criticized the party’s decision to come back into the Alabama race after it initially abandoned Moore over allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • Protesters are continuing to pressure Collins over her vote on the Senate GOP tax overhaul. After sit-ins at her Bangor and Portland offices that both resulted in arrests last week, about 20 protesters gathered at her Bangor home on Sunday.
  • Opposition to the proposed fee increases at Acadia is growing. The Bar Harbor Town Council has agreed to oppose Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s push for peak-season fee increases and instead to support a proposed congressional resolve that calls for “reliable, predictable” funding for the park and its more than $11 million maintenance backlog. The proposal currently under consideration would raise a number of fees, including the weekly pass price for a vehicle rising from $25 to $70.

How to survive winter

The BDN’s Julia Bayly knows. She reported today what we already know: Too much dark can really drain our momentum and it’s because it causes a shortage of serotonin in our bodies.

One doctor interviewed said seasonal depression becomes worse the farther north you go, right up until you hit Santa’s place at the North Pole. (OK, the doctor didn’t really say that last bit.) There’s a full half hour less daylight in Caribou than there is farther south.

Among the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are irritability and a tendency to avoid going out at all. We can all relate. How do you beat it? Focus on your diet, good sleep and exercise.

Those methods “don’t sound sexy,” according to one doctor, but their benefits are “huge.” All not sounding sexy is a suggestion that you reverse the winter bummers by sitting in front of a “light box” for 30 minutes a day.

Here at the Daily Brief, we think you can chase away the blues in 30 minutes per day by doing something VERY sexy if you’re lucky enough to have a willing partner. Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

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.