A cat peers out a window in Portland's West End during a snow storm, March 8, 2018.

Good morning. Temperatures will be in the mid-20s, with mostly sunny skies throughout the state.

Here’s what we’re talking about in Maine today.

Six Maine political stories to watch in 2019

–For the first time since 2011, one party will control both the executive and legislative branches, and Maine will send two Democrats to Congress for the first time since 2014. The state’s political dynamics changed dramatically in 2018 and here are half a dozen situations that bear monitoring next year.

How Maine humor helped Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain break the ice

–The history of professional Maine humor goes back to at least the dawn of 19th century. By the 1830s, a syndicated Yankee character was tickling funny bones in newspapers across the new nation. A few years later, United States’ first stand-up comedian emerged from Oxford County with fans including Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain.

With MaineCare set to expand, Bangor area group will help people sign up on Jan. 2

–Ahead of the state’s expected expansion of MaineCare early next year, a Bangor area group is urging newly qualified Mainers to sign up for the federal health coverage program soon, ahead of a possible torrent of applications.

To help them, Bangor Area Recovery Network, aka the BARN, will host a daylong event Jan. 2 to assist people with filling out their applications for MaineCare, the state’s version of the federal Medicaid program.

Nonprofits see holiday volunteer influx, but struggle to find help the rest of the year

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

–Although Maine ranks ninth in the nation for volunteerism, and organizations that need volunteers’ help during the holiday season can generally find it, those same organizations struggle to keep adequate numbers during the rest of the year.

Do this: 10 things you need for your winter outdoor adventures

Credit: Courtesy of Derek Runnells

–If you want to spend December in the great outdoors, you’ll want to add these items to your pack.

In other news …

Maine

Two die in Christmas morning crash in Gouldsboro

Police investigate home invasion in China

Suspect arrested after Christmas Day stabbing

Business

Migrant workers at Maine wreath company say they were fired after complaining about harassment

Asian markets rattled after Wall Street’s Christmas Eve plunge

Google searches for ‘recession’ are the highest they’ve been since November 2009

Politics

Poliquin announces he is giving up legal challenge to ranked-choice voting

Trump says government shutdown will last as long as Democrats reject funding the wall

Trump’s reluctant backers sour on his leadership, policies

Opinion

High-quality early learning will help our kids and our country

Trump’s absurdity has cast a pall over the holidays — and the future

The yes-man-ification of the Trump administration

Sports

Record-setting Maine basketball player has high hoop dreams

Orono basketball standout returns to the court after knee injury

Steelers, Chiefs among ‘big losers’ in week 16 of NFL season

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