Candidate to Democrats: You used me to raise money, but I don’t want it

Good morning from Augusta. A Maine House of Representatives candidate from Greene wants you to know that she doesn’t control a massive sum of money raised by a local Democratic committee specifically for her race.

She is calling on the Lewiston Democratic Committee to reform fundraising practices. The candidate is Eryn Gilchrist, a Democrat running to replace the term-limited Rep. Stephen Wood, R-Sabattus. She’s running against former Republican state Sen. Tom Martin.

But both of them only ran after the uproar over Les Gibson, a Republican who was running unopposed for Wood’s seat until he insulted survivors of the Florida school shooting earlier this year and later dropped out.

Right around that time, the Lewiston Democratic Committee was ostensibly trying to recruit a candidate in the neighboring district. It harnessed the viral outrage to run a “Beat Les Gibson” fundraising campaign that has raised more than $174,000 to date. After he dropped out, the group said it would use the money to “go after his hateful allies in Androscoggin County.”

On Monday, Gilchrist issued a statement noting that she is a Clean Election candidate, saying the Lewiston group raised their money “using my name and practices that I don’t condone.” She later said that donors may have thought the donations would be connected to her.

The committee hasn’t said how exactly it will use the money, but it is hinting that it may be used broadly. The sum is a massive amount for a local Maine party committee. The Lewiston committee raised just under $5,200 in 2017 and $174,000 is more than Democratic outside groups spent on each of all but eight state Senate races going back to 2012.

The committee’s chairman, Kiernan Majerus-Collins, said Monday that the scale of the effort was “completely unexpected” and “we’re still working on how exactly to best use the money,” but that it’ll be “wholly transparent and aimed at making a difference here in Lewiston.”

More information about this session’s unfunded bills, all in one place

There has been a lot of talk and reporting about the 134 bills that passed this session but remain unfunded and will likely die on what is known as the Special Appropriations Table whenever the Legislature finally adjourns. Those bills are listed on the Senate’s daily calendars, but only by their LD number. Last week, the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review released a 34-page document that pulls together more information about them, including titles, their sponsors and the cost.

All told, the bills would cost the general fund more than $90 million this year and just about $200 million next year, with more increases in the following years. There are also $215,000 worth of bills affecting the Highway Fund and some $4.6 million worth of bills calling on support from the Fund for a Healthy Maine next year.

Angus King had 18 times more cash than his challengers by March’s end

The independent U.S. senator’s three challengers only have a combined $128,000 in their coffers. Updated fundraising figures were recently released in the race, with King raising $4.1 million overall with $2.3 million left as of March 31.

State Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, raised $299,000 with $78,000 left as of March 31. Democrat Zak Ringelstein of Portland raised $156,000 with $41,000 left. Republican Max Linn of Bar Harbor had only one contributor on top of a $75,000 personal loan with only $8,600 left. Together, they had just $128,000 in their coffers — putting King at just over 18 times more.

Here come the write-in candidates

Since the beginning of April, four people have filed to run for public office as write-in candidates. Any of them winning would be historic but the first step is that you have to know their names, so here you go:

  • Martin Vachon of Mariaville is running as a Democrat for governor. Vachon was also a write-in in 2006 and 2010.
  • Joseph Belisle of Bangor is running as a Democrat for district attorney in Penobscot County. Marianne Lynch, a Republican currently serving as assistant district attorney, is the only candidate so far who will appear on the ballot to replace R. Christopher Almy, who is not seeking re-election, though there is still time for independents to qualify by June 1.
  • Ronald Pulchlopek of Kittery is running as a Republican for the House of Representatives. The other declared candidates there are Green Independent Andrew Howard and incumbent Democratic Rep. Deane Rykerson. There is no Republican on the ballot.
  • Alyssa Thompson of Greene is running for the Androscoggin County Commission as a Democrat. She would run against Republican Brian Ames for the District 3 seat on the county commission. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item incorrectly listed Thompson’s potential opponents.

Today in A-town

Linn faces another hearing on his ballot status after submitting dead people’s signatures. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap will hold a second hearing on Linn’s ballot status after a Brakey backer of his opponent won a court ruling on Friday sending the issue back to Dunlap after Brakey’s campaign said it found enough invalid signatures to remove Linn from the ballot.

Linn, a former Reform Party and Democratic candidate in Florida, resurfaced in Maine as a pro-President Donald Trump Republican. After an appeal from Brakey, Dunlap ruled earlier this month that Linn made the ballot, despite 230 signatures that were invalidated for several reasons, including that some people who purportedly signed them were dead.

In a Tuesday tweet, Linn aped the president and flattered Dunlap, saying he “isn’t a member of the Swamp, unlike those who are fighting to keep the Maine Now Agenda off the June ballot.” He may not stick to that line if Dunlap boots him, which would likely send this back to court.

Reading list

  • The governor has decided he will allow signage that directs visitors to Maine’s national monument. LePage previously banned road signs referencing the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument but has now reversed course, according to his spokeswoman. Tim Hudson, the monument’s superintendent, submitted a second request for the signs on March 28.
  • Starting next year, Maine students will be required to have a meningitis vaccine before entering seventh grade. According to new requirements from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, students will also need a second dose when they are 16 or before their senior year of high school. The requirements, which kick in on May 10, are meant to prevent the spread of meningococcal disease.
  • The city of Bangor is implementing a domestic violence training program for its employees. The intent of the new policy is to help employees better recognize the signs of domestic violence and to provide help and support to those affected by it. The change comes in the wake of Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray pleading guilty to domestic violence assault in October. The city holds a 10-year contract with Gray’s company.
  • A 15-year-old Litchfield boy is charged with killing his mother. The boy, Lukas Mironovas, is allegedly one of three teenagers charged in connection with the strangling and stabbing death of 47-year-old Kimberly Mironovas on Saturday. According to court documents, Lukas Mironovas and two accomplices, William Smith, 15, and Thomas Severance, 13, first planned to kill the woman by putting prescription drugs in her wine but decided to stab and strangle her when the drugs wouldn’t dilute.

Whatever floats your boat

The Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race — which some people claim to be the greatest sporting event in all of Maine — took place Saturday. Paddlers donned Gumby gear, bowties or other colorful garb to race the 16.5 miles downstream from Mystic Tie Grange in Kenduskeag to downtown Bangor.

Among them were intrepid BDN reporters Alex Acquisto and Callie Ferguson. When I congratulated them on completing the whitewater challenge, they invited me to join them next year.

That ain’t happenin’.

My relationship with water is generally adversarial. When it is frozen, I fall on it. When it is liquid, I sink in it. After decades of conflict, now I mostly just drink it or use it for bathing.

My wife and daughters could share harrowing tales of my obscenity-laced, paddle-tossing “floating coffins” kayak meltdown in the far more tranquil waters of the Kennebec River years ago. The closest you will ever get me to whitewater rafting or canoeing is sitting in a tub or — on daring days —  jumping over a sprinkler.

To Alex and Callie: I envy your spirit of adventure and raise a glass to your courage. But my glass won’t contain water. Here is your soundtrack. — Robert Long

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins, Michael Shepherd and Robert Long. If you’re reading this 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.

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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.