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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “From a business standpoint there really isn’t anything else like this out there,” said Jestin Merchant, who along with his wife Carrie have opened a President Donald Trump-themed coffee shop called “Covfefe” in Rockland. “I recognized the need in this area, that there should be a spot where people can come and support Trump and not feel like they’re strange or different because they do support the president.”
What we’re watching today
Presidential campaigns are making their final push in Maine this weekend. Candidates themselves are unlikely to make another appearance in Maine before Tuesday’s primary, but they are hitting the airwaves and sending surrogates over the next few days in a last-minute effort to win some of the state’s 24 delegates.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is sending her husband, attorney John Bessler, to stump in Orono, Owls Head and Portland on Sunday. The senator is also the only candidate with a super PAC running ads on her behalf in Maine, with Kitchen Table Solutions PAC spending at least $48,000 on TV ads in Maine, according to federal filings. The spots highlight Klobuchar’s wins in counties that Trump took in 2016. She has benefited from late endorsements in Maine, including one from the Bangor Daily News’ editorial board yesterday. (We have nothing to do with that.)
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, is out with a digital and TV ad campaign in the state, promising that he will “pieces of our divided nation” if elected president. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire, will also be campaigning in Maine on the mayor’s behalf.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg still dominated the ad game, though. He has spent more than $2 million on TV ads in Maine since announcing his candidacy, according to FiveThirtyEight, as part of a nearly $400 million push nationwide.
Bloomberg, Buttigieg and, to a lesser extent Klobuchar, also have organizers on the ground in Maine this weekend. So do Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was up in Maine in a Colby College survey released earlier this month, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is hoping for a Super Tuesday comeback in states including Maine.
The Maine politics top 3
— “ Coronavirus hasn’t appeared in Maine yet. Here’s how the state is still preparing,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is informing health care providers about protocols and bolstering public awareness. Lawmakers are putting money toward better testing equipment, while the national delegation is opposing part of a funding plan from the administration of President Donald Trump that they say would hurt low-income Mainers.”
— “ UMaine GOP club loses its name after semester of growing tension with university,” Eesha Pendharkar, BDN: “The new 15-member group led by senior Anna Zmistowski, 20, wants to return the UMaine College Republicans to the group’s traditional mission of getting students involved in Maine politics and campaigning to elect Republicans. … But members of the previous GOP group say the College Republicans name rightfully belongs to them.”
— “ Trump’s revision of detention standards fuels concern over planned Scarborough ICE facility,” Nick Schroeder, BDN: “Two months ago, the Trump administration rolled back a set of safety standards for detention and holding facilities operated by ICE. … But it is still unknown how these sweeping changes could shape operations planned for the facility at 40 Manson Libby Road in Scarborough because details about the project are scarce.”
Democrats will go it alone on consumer-owned utility bill
Republicans on the Legislature’s energy panel said they are not interested in pursuing a proposal to buy out Maine’s two largest utilities. The proposal is a top goal of Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, the co-chair of the energy committee who has been traveling the state to tout the plan. It was the subject of a recently released study finding Mainers would pay higher rates initially while perhaps saving money in the long run.
Republicans on the panel had heard enough by Friday. At the end of a work session on the measure, Rep. Jeff Hanley, R-Pittston, said he found it “impossible to support this in any way.” Berry said Democrats will work on an amendment to the bill before voting to advance the bill, which will have a hard road to passage without bipartisan support.
New bill would stop state from detaining youths with no other place to go
A state task force’s juvenile recommendations have been made into a bill that will get a Monday hearing. The biggest reason children are detained at Long Creek Youth Development Center is because “they could not go home.” A bill from the Legislature’s criminal justice committee looks to change that by repealing a provision of state code that allows the practice “because there is no parent or other suitable person” able to supervise the child.
It’s part of a bigger push to lower the state’s number of incarcerated individuals. The bill would also require the state to provide more consistent data on population at the detention center and to research locations for a “therapeutic” residence that could hold no more than 30 children. It would appropriate a total of $3.5 million to fund community-based therapy or programs that look to divert children from detention.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email email@example.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.
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