Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

State House Bureau Chief


Second group forms to push 2016 marijuana legalization referendum in Maine

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 18, 2014, at 12:05 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A second group has formed with the intention of asking Maine voters to legalize recreational use of marijuana, raising questions about whether the two initiatives might spur the incoming Legislature to pre-empt them and write its own law to send to referendum. Paul McCarrier, formerly the legislative …
Gov. Paul LePage

Federal appeals court rejects LePage administration attempt to trim Medicaid rolls

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 17, 2014, at 4:59 p.m.
AUGUSTA | About 6,000 19- and 20-year-old low-income Mainers will continue to receive health insurance coverage under MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, after a federal court ruling against Gov. Paul LePage’s administration on Monday. Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said in a prepared statement …

Monday roundup: Poll shows support for higher taxes; Nancy Pelosi endorses Emily Cain for Congress … in 2016

on Nov. 17, 2014, at 11:54 a.m.
Are you sick of poll results yet? These aren’t about the Nov. 4 election, I promise. Days before the election, the Bangor Daily News released the results of a BDN/Ipsos poll conducted between October 23 and 29 of more than 1,000 Maine residents, including 946 registered voters and 488 likely voters. …
Phil Bartlett of Gorham and Peggy Schaffer of Vassalboro were elected chair and vice chair of the Maine Democratic Party, respectively, during elections on Sunday, November 16, 2014 in Augusta.

Maine Democrats elect Bartlett, Schaffer to lead state party and reverse election woes

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 17, 2014, at 9:31 a.m.
AUGUSTA | Former state Sen. Phil Bartlett, who was one of the youngest-ever Senate majority leaders, was chosen Sunday as the Maine Democratic Party’s new chairman. Bartlett’s election was of little surprise, though he did have a challenger, Melissa Sterry of Augusta, who has unsuccessfully sought the chairmanship in …

Report: LePage administration ousts 2 DHHS managers

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 12, 2014, at 5:25 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Two directors of key programs in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services were dismissed Wednesday morning, according to an email provided to the Bangor Daily News. In the email, which reportedly was sent to all DHHS staff Wednesday afternoon, Ricker Hamilton, the agency’s deputy commissioner …
House Speaker Mark Eves

Maine Democrats fill legislative leadership posts

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 12, 2014, at 5 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Despite seeing their majority shrink by 10 seats after last week’s election, Maine House Democrats on Wednesday re-elected the two returning members of the past session’s leadership team to key posts for the next two years. Rep. Mark Eves of North Berwick won two more years as …
Jim Rier

Maine education commissioner placed on indefinite medical leave

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 10, 2014, at 5:03 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Jim Rier, the state’s education commissioner, has been placed on indefinite medical leave, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Samantha Warren. Warren did not provide details about Rier’s condition, but she said his absence is expected to be temporary and that Rier remains in close contact with …

Secretary of State to recount ballots in three close Senate races

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 10, 2014, at 12:57 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Three state Senate candidates have requested recounts of the Nov. 4 ballots in their districts. The requests are in Senate seats in Waldo, Androscoggin and Cumberland Counties. — Senate District 11 (Waldo County), Democrat Jonathan Fulford versus Mike Thibodeau. According to unofficial election results compiled by the …

One lawmaker who was making laws during the campaign, plus 7 stories you need to read

on Nov. 10, 2014, at 12:12 p.m.
While most lawmakers have been focused on campaigning in recent months, Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick has been busy promoting his Keep ME Home program, which is designed to help senior citizens in Maine live independently for longer. It remains to be seen whether Eves will continue …
Gov. Paul LePage addresses the media regarding the announcement of the Verso Paper Mill closing Oct. 2 outside of Maine Military Supply, in Holden. LePage is considering pushing new energy policy through as part of his second term, which, he said, could help Maine's paper mills.

LePage has legislation in mind to weaken attorney general’s office in his second term

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 06, 2014, at 7:57 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday outlined a second-term agenda that ranged from reviving welfare reform proposals that have previously failed to a new initiative aimed at weakening the attorney general’s power. In a wide-ranging conversation with the Bangor Daily News on Thursday afternoon, LePage also said the …
Gov. Paul LePage leaves the House of Representatives chamber after delivering his 2014 State of the State address on Feb. 4, 2014.

GOP takeover of Senate, closer gap in House change more than the numbers

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 05, 2014, at 6:42 p.m.
AUGUSTA | With the re-election of Gov. Paul LePage and Republicans overtaking the Senate with what looks to be a 20-15 majority, the next two years will see significant pressure on Democrats in the House of Representatives. Will they simply play defense against an emboldened LePage and Republican lawmakers …
Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King announces on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, at his home in Brunswick, that he'll continue to caucus with Democrats in the U.S. Senate.

King announces he’ll stick with Democratic caucus despite Republican takeover of Senate majority

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 05, 2014, at 5:38 p.m.
BRUNSWICK | Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King said Wednesday that he will continue to caucus with Democrats in order to ensure that Maine continues to have a senator with pull on both sides of the aisle in Washington. King has been caucusing with majority Democrats since 2012 and as …
Portlanders on the street Friday (clockwise from upper left) Sean Libby, Chris Harmon and Kristine Keeney said they all planned to vote for Mike Michaud for governor in Tuesday's election.

What Maine voters are saying about this year’s election for governor

By Christopher Cousins on Nov. 02, 2014, at 5:57 a.m.
PORTLAND | With the election just days away, there’s one tie that binds most voters: they want it to be over. Millions of dollars spent trying to secure votes has translated, for many Mainers, into multiple telephone calls per day, piles of print advertising in mailboxes, candidates and their …
President Barack Obama raises Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud's hand at a rally in Portland on Thursday night.

Obama says Michaud will fight for ‘ordinary Mainers’ as governor

By Christopher Cousins on Oct. 30, 2014, at 8:46 p.m.
PORTLAND | President Barack Obama came to Maine on Thursday to tell a loud crowd of 3,000 in Portland that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Michaud is the kind of politician that runs for office for the right reasons. “He ran for the state Legislature not because he wanted to …
President Barack Obama arrives at the Portland International Jetport on Thursday, October 30, 2014 and is greeted by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Democratic candidate for governor.

Obama speaks at rally for Michaud in Portland

By Christopher Cousins on Oct. 30, 2014, at 11:11 a.m.
President Barack Obama and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell are the latest high-profile Democrats set to take the stage to urge Mainers to elect U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud as Maine’s next governor. Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage are locked in a neck-and-neck battle that recent polls …
Sen. Angus King

King switches gubernatorial nod from Cutler to Michaud; Snowe robocall to boost LePage

By Christopher Cousins on Oct. 29, 2014, at 5:22 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King announced Wednesday that he has switched his endorsement in this year’s gubernatorial election from independent Eliot Cutler to Democrat Mike Michaud. Within an hour of King’s announcement came word that former Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, who has officially endorsed Republican Gov. …
Jim Shaffer of Cape Elizabeth speaks on Wednesday at a press conference in Portland where several former Eliot Cutler supporters announced their support of Democratic contender Mike Michaud for governor in order to defeat incumbent Republican Paul LePage.

LePage, Michaud campaigns offer contrasting takes on Cutler announcement

By Christopher Cousins on Oct. 29, 2014, at 3:32 p.m.
PORTLAND | The campaigns of incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democrat Mike Michaud scrambled Wednesday to take advantage of independent Eliot Cutler’s acknowledgement that he has little chance to win the Nov. 4 Maine governor’s election. In a hastily arranged news conference Wednesday morning, Cutler made it clear …
Maine gubernatorial candidates Democrat U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (left), Republican Gov. Paul LePage (center) and independent Eliot Cutler face each other in a televised debate on Oct. 20  in Portland.

New Pan Atlantic poll shows Cutler’s support shifting to Michaud

on Oct. 28, 2014, at 8:54 a.m.
A new poll in the gubernatorial race by Pan Atlantic SMS, a firm whose polls have shown stronger support for independent Eliot Cutler than most other surveys, shows Cutler about 7 percentage points down from where he was last month and most of that lost support contributing to a boost …
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Shenna Bellows gestures to Republican incumbent Susan Collins on Monday night in Portland. The two faced off in a televised debate.

Bellows rejects Collins’ assertion that she’s moderate during debate

By Christopher Cousins on Oct. 27, 2014, at 7:45 p.m.
PORTLAND | Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows traded sharp barbs during a CBS13/Bangor Daily News televised debate Monday evening that featured the incumbent highlighting her moderate values and the challenger trying to push Collins to the right. Bellows challenged Collins’ attempts to frame herself as …
henna Bellows (left) listens as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins answers a question during a debate at Gracie Theater at Husson University on Oct. 22.

Collins, Bellows to face off in televised debate Monday night

By Christopher Cousins on Oct. 27, 2014, at 2:24 p.m.
PORTLAND | Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows will face off Monday night for a political debate that — if their recent forums are any indication — will feature sharp ideological contrasts and engaging oration from two masterful communicators. After nearly 18 years in the …
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