Good morning from Augusta. This week, we got the first look at how the four gubernatorial candidates on Maine’s November ballot have raising and spending their money since the June primaries and the result is four deeply divergent campaign strategies.
Democratic nominee Janet Mills is narrowly leading the largely self-funded Republican Shawn Moody in the money race behind a more conventional campaign. Mills, the attorney general from Farmington, raised just over $1.05 million through July 17, according to her latest filings with the Maine Ethics Commission. That was just ahead of Moody, a businessman from Gorham who raised just under $1.04 million in both the primary and general election campaigns combined. However, Moody had more money left at $277,000 to Mills’ $213,000.
Mills has done it behind a healthy share of individual contributions. Of her total haul, 88 percent of it has come from individuals and 79 percent of it has come from Maine donors. Her donors from this fundraising period included Lee Auto Malls Chairman Adam Lee of Cumberland and businessman Peter Geiger of Lewiston.
Moody has self-funded nearly half of his campaign to the tune of $500,000 so far. While 97 percent of that money has come from Maine, he has only gotten $6,800 to Mills’ $90,000 from donors giving $50 or less. Notable donors from this period included U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of the 2nd District, lobbyist Josh Tardy of Newport and Cianbro.
The two independents have had to spend money on different schedules. Maine State Treasurer Terry Hayes, an independent wild card in the race, was way ahead of the rest of the field in cash on hand at the July 17 deadline with $477,000. Consultant Alan Caron of Freeport has spent virtually all of his $535,000 haul — $485,000 of which came from personal funds.
But that’s colored by Hayes’ use of the taxpayer-funded Clean Election program, for which funding is now stalled in a dispute between Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives.
She has had to spend enough to get her name out into view, but she also needs to save money in case she doesn’t get much more. Caron has already spent $230,000 on ads, banking heavily on that early spending to define him before voters before campaign season really picks up.
- A Superior Court judge expects to rule soon on whether the Maine Ethics Commission will receive the money it needs to publicly finance campaigns. Maine Public reported that lawyers for the LePage administration and Maine Clean Election candidates offered arguments before Justice William Stokes on Tuesday. After hearing legal arguments from both sides, Stokes seemed to summarize the question by asking: “So the sitting governor can prevent his opponent from accessing Clean Election funds … for no reason?” His answer to that question will play a pivotal role in determining whether dozens of legislative candidates and one gubernatorial candidate can gain access to roughly $1.4 million that LePage is withholding.
- The FBI is investigating former Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant and his former chief deputy, according to court testimony. It was first reported by WGME on Wednesday via testimony from Chris Wainwright, the chief sheriff’s deputy in Oxford County after James Theriault replaced Gallant, who resigned in December after allegations of sexual harassment. Theriault testified earlier this month in the case of a sheriff’s lieutenant charged with domestic violence. He said Gallant solicited sex from the lieutenant after he was bailed out of the county jail and that Hart Daley, the chief deputy under Gallant, destroyed records on digital devices. Theriault said the FBI has been investigating both Gallant and Daley. Daley told WGME that he didn’t destroy records and that Theriault has a “vendetta” against him and Gallant.
- Ballots for Maine legislative races are finalized. After Monday’s deadline to replace candidates who withdrew, Republicans were without candidates in three of the 35 Maine Senate races. In all, Republicans and Democrats failed to find replacements for nine candidates who withdrew. Among the replacement candidates are Stavros Mendros, a controversial former Republican lawmaker and campaign operative from Lewiston, who is now living in Hollis and is the GOP challenger to Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, and James LaBrecque of a former energy adviser to LePage, who is running against Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor.
- Elected at 26, the mayor of Belfast has had a sometimes tense relationship with residents and older city councilors. Frustrations reached a boiling point early this month during a council discussion about Mayor Samantha Paradis’ push for a special facilitated meeting focused on how the city’s elected officials interact with each other and the public. Paradis said confrontational exchanges between councilors and the public prompted her request. Councilors agreed to schedule a meeting in August, though several were reluctant. Friction over plans to build an indoor salmon farm in the city also has placed Paradis at the center of conflict during her first months in office.
- Unions for the company that acquired FairPoint have voted to authorize a strike if contract negotiations falter. With an Aug. 4 deadline looming, workers in four unions representing employees of Consolidated Communications took the procedural step of a strike authorization vote. But management and union representatives say negotiations are progressing, with hope that a strike like the 131-day walkout three years ago can be avoided.
The highest court in the land
There’s a basketball court on the fifth floor of the U.S. Supreme Court building. Stanley Kay wrote a long history of it for Sports Illustrated.
Among the interesting revelations are that two of the eight current justices — Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan — suffered injuries while playing on the high court’s high court, and that former Justice Byron “Whizzer” White, who had played in the National Football League, competed fiercely on the hardwood.
“He liked nothing more than to give you an elbow if you were close to that wall and knock you into it, almost like a hockey check,” said Richard Cordray, who clerked for White in 1987–88. “Then he would laugh. And you needed to laugh too, to take it in stride.”
Former clerks for the justices — including Neil Gorsuch, the newest member of the Supreme Court, and Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination is pending — also took to the hardwood to blow off steam or take a break from the legal picks and rolls.
It made me think that Daily Brief needs its own basketball team. Michael Shepherd — if he could limit his technical fouls to single digits (not the middle one) — would clearly man the post while Chris Cousins could dominate as a power forward. If we could enlist his talented sons, we would probably have a decent backcourt.
I suppose I could set picks and hand them orange slices. Here is your soundtrack. — Robert Long
Legislative leaders still have not decided when lawmakers will return to the State House to deal with unfinished business. As they continue to try to make up their minds and we rest up for campaign season, publication of Daily Brief will continue to be sporadic. Here is your soundtrack.
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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