Good morning from Augusta. Cities and towns are still reporting election results to the Bangor Daily News at this hour after Tuesday’s election. View them here on a town-by-town basis.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “When you come in late to the game and you are someone who has a record, you can’t assume you can just wash that away with spending,” Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist, told the Associated Press on Michael Bloomberg’s disappointing showing on Super Tuesday. The former New York City mayor will reportedly reassess his campaign today after not winning a single state Tuesday. Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
Nationalization beat organization in Maine’s Democratic presidential primary. Before Election Day, you could have made the case that former Vice President Joe Biden had put in the least amount of work in Maine of all the Democrats running for president. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren organized here for months. Even Andrew Yang gave the Bangor Daily News an interview in New Hampshire once.
Yet it is Biden who won the Maine primary in an upset. With 86 percent of precincts reporting, the former vice president leads Sanders by just over 2,000 votes. If the end result is that close, Biden and Sanders will take away similar numbers of delegates, with the exact totals depending on the final breakdown in each congressional district. Warren, who is currently sitting at 15.8 percent of the vote, will likely take away a few delegates, too.
But the result is a significant victory for Biden, who likely benefited from the last-minute dropouts of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who was polling well in Maine, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The former vice president won at least nine other states on Tuesday, compared with only three for Sanders.
The environment that the primary created was just too much for conservative causes on the ballot. A people’s veto effort to repeal a stricter vaccine law failed decisively, with 73 percent of voters opposed with 86 percent of precincts reporting. The law, which will eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions for mandatory school vaccinations, passed by just one vote in the state Senate last year, largely along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
That party split likely helped opponents of the referendum on Tuesday, when Democratic turnout was expected to exceed Republicans due to the competitive presidential primary, though the decisive margin suggests partisan differences might not fully account for the ultimate result. The law will now go into effect in September 2021.
The skewed electorate also played out in a special legislative election in Brewer, where City Councilor Kevin O’Connell, a Democrat, handily defeated former Rep. Garrel Craig, a Republican, by 16 points in a swing district that will be in play again in November.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine panel recommends hiking road funding, but punts on long-term shortfall fix,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “The blue-ribbon commission decided on Tuesday to suggest the Legislature consider any funding solutions be built on a 50 to 60 percent increase in general fund revenue and the rest from new revenues, which could include measures like a gas tax increase or higher fees for electric vehicles. It recommends the increase be built up to over the next three to four years. The decision means lawmakers avoid a tricky decision of deciding how the problem will be fixed for now.”
— “Judge orders Portland to allow Maine GOP to collect signatures for people’s veto push,” Michael Shepherd, BDN: “In an emergency order on Tuesday, a judge ordered Portland to allow the Maine Republican Party to gather signatures at polling places for a people’s veto effort to repeal ranked-choice voting in presidential races.”
— “Party lines emerge in Legislature over $127 million spending proposal,” Scott Thistle, Portland Press Herald: “Republicans on the human services committee had voted against most of the spending proposals in a near-unified block Monday. That stance is likely to foreshadow where minority Republicans will line up as votes on the spending package, proposed by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in February, are cast in the days ahead.”
Otherwise, it seems like smooth sailing for the governor’s spending package so far. Report-backs from committees on environment and natural resources, inland fisheries and wildlife, taxation and transportation all show unanimous or-near unanimous votes on the proposals related to their committee. Reports from the judicial, labor and housing and state and local government committees are expected by the end of Wednesday.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.