December 14, 2017
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New poll says more than half of Mainers now disapprove of Trump

By Michael Shepherd, BDN Staff

Good morning from Augusta. Maine is mirroring the rest of the U.S. when it comes to President Donald Trump’s approval rating, which a new round of polling from Morning Consult said fell in every state between January and September.

As Maine goes, so goes the nation. The old cliche is true on the Republican president. In January, Morning Consult found that 49 percent of Americans approved of Trump and 39 percent disapproved. Now, he’s down 43 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval nationally. In Maine, he has gone from 48 percent approval and 40 percent disapproval in January to 42 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval, with a 5 percent margin of error in-state.

What does it mean now in Maine? It’s hard to tell. Morning Consult still found that 81 percent of Republicans approve of Trump nationally, so his hold on the party isn’t broken. Meanwhile, the intensity of opposition from Democrats and independents has risen across the U.S. Projecting that onto Maine’s 2018 gubernatorial election, the Republican hopefuls can’t stray too far from Trump, but may have trouble winning if they’re too identified with him. But that doesn’t at all mean they can’t win — especially in Maine election often decided by pluralities.


House GOP leader announces Senate bid with LePage’s backing

Ellie Espling will run for the Maine Senate, setting up a potential primary showdown. The assistant Maine House minority leader from New Gloucester said in a Wednesday release that she’ll run for the seat to be vacated by Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, who is running against U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018. LePage endorsed her in a statement, saying she would “excel in a leadership role” in the upper chamber. Rep. Bruce Bickford, R-Auburn, has already declared a run for Brakey’s seat.


Matt Dunlap isn’t sure if Trump’s voter fraud commission will meet again

The Maine secretary of state said he doesn’t know what the commission is working on. In a Tuesday interview with the Huffington Post, the Democratic member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity said “it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t meet again.” The panel, which was set up to investigate claims of voter fraud, has met twice in five months. Among members, Dunlap has been the harshest critic of the commission’s work, telling ProPublica last week that he and other Democrats have been sidelined and he didn’t know who was running the commission in practice.


Reading list

  • Susan Collins will announce whether she’s running for governor on Friday. The Republican U.S. senator hasn’t tipped her hand much on the announcement, with a spokeswoman saying Tuesday that it would be in Maine. A decision to run would make national Republicans worry about keeping her seat if she wins and transport Collins from a safe seat to a potential primary dogfight. The White House may be watching: Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, followed Collins on Twitter yesterday.
  • A former independent candidate for governor has registered as a Republican for another run. Shawn Moody of Gorham, who owns a chain of auto body shops in Maine, finished fourth in the gubernatorial election in 2010 and has been surrounded by speculation about what he’ll do next ever since.
  • Moody said Tuesday he will likely make his gubernatorial run official before Thanksgiving. A top legislative Republican has offered a student debt relief plan that could signal a compromise on the issue. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, wants the Legislature to consider borrowing $25 million for a student loan consolidation program in 2018. Fredette and other Republicans blocked a more aggressive loan forgiveness plan backed by LePage and Democrats earlier this year.
  • A Democratic senator has proposed a bill that would block governors’ power to remove county sheriffs from office. Sen. Justin Chenette of Saco is proposing to change a provision in the Maine Constitution that allows it, but he needs the support of the Legislative Council, two thirds of the Legislature and a majority of the Maine people at a referendum. With all those steps, the change is unlikely to happen under LePage, who has already threatened to start removal proceedings against two sheriffs for their stance on holding illegal immigrants without warrants. Chenette told the Bangor Daily News he is considering retroactivity language.
  • The federal government is giving Maine more time to comply with Real ID rules. Dunlap said Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security won’t penalize the state for its non-compliance until January. The previous deadline was Tuesday. That means Maine licenses will continue to be valid for boarding domestic flights, federal facilities and nuclear power plants. The Legislature enacted a law this year to start implementing compliance measures.

Football is over for the United States

The downfall of the National Football League? Unfortunately for pro sports haters, no, we’re talking about soccer, which is called football everywhere in the world but here.

The United States Men’s National Soccer Team lost a qualifying game Tuesday night that means the U.S. won’t compete in the 2018 World Cup tournament, one of the premier sports contests on the planet. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1986 and Tuesday’s loss was at the hands, er, feet, of last-ranked Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. women’s team will likely make a deep run in 2019.

We won’t name names, but there are some diehard soccer fans among Daily Brief readers. They’ll just have to start watching football like the rest of us. The real kind. Here’s your soundtrack. This is also your soundtrack.

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.


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