December 12, 2018
Daily Brief Latest News | Joyce McLain | Ranked-Choice Voting | Anthony Cipolle | Today's Paper

The latest on money, debates and polling in Maine’s closest campaign contests

Micky Bedell | BDN; Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Micky Bedell | BDN; Robert F. Bukaty | AP
U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (right) and State Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a candidate for the 2nd District Congressional seat.

Good morning from Augusta, where we’ll begin with a Monday roundup of news from Maine’s biggest campaigns.

The Democratic challenger in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District raised a boatload of cash in the year’s third quarter, but Assistant Maine House Majority Leader Jared Golden has far less on hand than U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, whom he will debate for the last time tomorrow.

In the governor’s race, independent Terry Hayes is trying to make the case that Republican Shawn Moody can’t beat Democratic nominee Janet Mills, though her own poll shows that she has a long way to go if she’s going to overtake him.

Golden harnessed Democratic fundraising momentum between July and September, but Poliquin had more money left as of last month’s end. By Monday’s end, congressional candidates must report updated fundraising totals from July through September. Poliquin and Golden gave us a sneak peek of their numbers by this morning and they’re in strong positions.

Golden’s campaign said in a statement that it raised $2.7 million during that period with $637,000 left. That was five times more than Poliquin’s haul of $538,000, but Poliquin’s campaign touted that it had $2.1 million left in its coffers by the end of last month. We’ll have to wait for their reports to come out before we know where all of this money came from.

However, it put Golden ahead of Poliquin in overall fundraising. He also appears to be in the top tier of well-funded Democratic candidates nationally of late, since House Democrats’ campaign arm told Politico that 30 of their candidates raised more than $2 million during the third quarter.

The two candidates are set to debate for the last time Tuesday night — but Golden will take the stage one more time. Poliquin has always tightly managed his messaging, most famously when he largely avoided discussing President Donald Trump as the two ran and won their 2016 races in the 2nd District. There were three debates then and Poliquin agreed to two against Golden and the two independents — Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar — this year.

That final debate will be tomorrow night on WAGM, the CBS and Fox affiliate in Presque Isle. Golden and the independents will debate once more in late October with Maine Public after a confusing spat last week in which the Democrat and his allies accused Poliquin of backing out of a debate that the incumbent never had on a public debate schedule released in late August.

Golden wasn’t going to do that Oct. 28 debate without Poliquin, but he has since changed his tune and will now appear.

Hayes is using two new polls in the governor’s race to argue that Moody can’t win, but it’s hard to know what to make of them. Moody, a businessman, and Mills, the attorney general, were statistically tied in the four-way governor’s race from Suffolk University in August that showed the two independents in the single digits. That poll is old and virtually meaningless now, but we mention it because it’s the only neutral public poll in the campaign so far.

FiveThirtyEight has logged two more polls since late September. Both give Mills an eight-point edge on her Republican rival, but one is from a liberal group and the other is an internal poll from Hayes that she’s pitching as a way of making Moody look weak. Those leads, however, come under different circumstances and it’s not all bad for Moody.

The first poll — from a group that aimed it at U.S. Sen. Susan Collins‘ vote on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — found Mills at 52 percent and Moody at 44 percent in a poll that didn’t include Hayes or fellow independent Alan Caron. Since the two independents are former Democrats, it stands to reason that Moody could gain when their votes are counted.

Hayes’ poll explored what the race might look like under ranked-choice voting, which will only be used in Maine congressional races this year. It pegged Mills at 41 percent, Moody at 33 percent, Hayes at 10 percent and Caron at 2 percent with 13 percent undecided, but it said that Hayes was the second choice of more than 51 percent of voters.

Kyle Bailey, Hayes’ campaign manager, put out an email to supporters with “Shawn Moody Can’t Win” in the subject line. But Republicans aren’t likely to be spooked. They recently included Hayes and Mills in a round of attack ads perhaps aimed at boosting the independent.

Correction: An earlier version of this item gave the wrong date for Maine Public’s 2nd District debate. It is Oct. 28, not Oct. 29.


Susan Rice shows up at Mills event

The national figure who could be plotting a 2020 run against Collins showed up at a Friday fundraiser for Mills on the midcoast. It caused a stir when Susan Rice, the national security adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Barack Obama, showed up at a Rockport fundraiser for Mills on Friday.

After Collins said she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Rice tweeted potential interest in running against the Republican senator in 2020 before saying that she’d consider it after this year’s election. Her mother was born in Portland and she owns a family home in Lincolnville, but she doesn’t live here full-time and isn’t known for Maine political ties.

However, her attendance at the Friday event was confirmed by a Mills spokesman. Two attendees at the event said Rice avoided answering questions about whether she’d take on Collins. She issued a statement to Politico saying she’s working to elect candidates here.


Reading list

— The Republican candidate for governor in Maine has grown his wealth to roughly $44 million. Chief among Moody’s assets are real estate and a collision repair center that has six locations in the state. If elected, Moody said he does not see a reason to sell off any of his increasingly valuable company shares or the underlying real estate, worth roughly $44.7 million to him and his wife, according to a Bangor Daily News review of public company and property records. State law does not require a governor to relinquish his stake in such businesses, which Moody said expanded through the recession because of prudent savings and streamlined state permitting processes.

— Climate change is having an impact on Acadia National Park. Aside from the noticeable increase in visitors to the park, which has prompted Acadia to develop its first-ever traffic management plan, climate change is affecting the park in other ways, too. More severe weather is having an impact on park infrastructure and, in some cases, is aggravating the park’s $60 million deferred maintenance backlog. Though storms are not expected to become more frequent, they generally are becoming more severe, taking a greater toll on the park’s roads, culverts and drainage systems. Sea level rise has swamped fire pits at a picnic area and caused erosion and tree loss.

— The president doubled down on his criticism of a woman who accused his latest Supreme Court appointee of sexual assault. In a segment of 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, President Donald Trump defended his mocking of Christine Blasey Ford at a Mississippi rally to CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl, saying, “Had I not made that speech, we would not have won.” Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, testified before the Senate Judiciary late last month. Days later, at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump mimicked aspects of Ford’s testimony — parts of the alleged night Ford couldn’t remember — to a laughing crowd. Trump told Stahl, “I really didn’t make fun. I was just saying she didn’t seem to know anything, and you’re trying to destroy a life of a man who has been extraordinary.” When Stahl asked again why he had mocked Ford, Trump bristled and said, “I’m not going to get into it, because we won.”


Shoat and tell

A little pig ran into traffic not far from the seat of Maine government in Augusta.

There are just too many ways to get into trouble with that sentence. So we won’t go there. Instead, we’ll dust off memories of Reggie and Evelyn, a pair of pet pigs featured in a long-ago story in a now-defunct weekly newspaper formerly based in Augusta. The story is so old that there is no link, so you will have to take my word for it.

A couple in a town just outside Augusta took a shine to the little piggies when they were just babes. They decided to raise them as pets instead of livestock. They installed a “piggy door” similar to what folks use to let dogs enter and leave the house, and would sit on the couch and pat the pigs while they watched TV.

For a short time, it was porcine paradise.

But pigs grow. Rapidly.

Within weeks, Reggie and Evelyn were each devouring five loaves of bread per day along with their more conventional pig food. They also developed an unhealthy appetite for hot dogs and pork chops.

In short order, the cute little piggies morphed into ravenous torpedoes on legs — with an appetite for the byproducts of less fortunate members of their own species. They soon could not fit through the piggy door.

The last straw, apparently, was when Reggie and Evelyn’s owners came home to discover that they had broken through the regular door and eaten most of the couch upon which they had so recently shared special moments.

The moral of the story is that pigs don’t make good house pets. But they do provide plenty of fodder for good storytelling. Here is your soundtrack. — Robert Long

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Alex Acquisto and Robert Long. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to receive Maine’s leading newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings. Click here to subscribe to the BDN.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but email us directly at aacquisto@bangordailynews.com, mshepherd@bangordailynews.com or rlong@bangordailynews.com.


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