Good morning from Augusta. The Legislature’s watchdog committee will discuss subjects including Maine’s child welfare system at a 9 a.m. meeting. Listen in here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “When we said we needed help and people needed to step up, Dawson was one of the first ones,” Catherine Lewis, the board president for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, said of longtime medical marijuana activist Dawson Julia, who was critically injured while on vacation in the Bahamas last week. “He single-handedly helped with a lot of bills, and he would be the person that when tough love had to happen, he’d give it.”
What we’re watching today
The first relatively well-known Maine Republican said he is considering a bid for the swing 2nd Congressional District as others leave the door open. National Republicans are placing U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a two-term Democrat from the 2nd District, at the top of their targeted incumbents for the second straight cycle in 2022, but it has until recently been unclear which Republicans were going to take up the challenge of facing him.
Things have gotten a little more clear this week. After Jason Savage, the executive director of the Maine Republican Party, said in a WGAN interview on Thursday that the party had “a couple of very promising prospects” for the race, third-term state Rep. Mike Perkins, R-Oakland, became the first to say he is exploring a run in a Thursday post on Facebook.
Neither he nor any other Republican has officially filed to run for the seat, however, and other possible prospects remain on the sidelines for now. Notably, former state Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon Falls, the 2020 nominee, said “I haven’t closed that door” to another run.
Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, whom Golden narrowly ousted in 2018, was among a group who did not respond to questions on whether they were considering running. Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, said she was not one of the prospects to whom Savage was referring. Former Assistant Maine House Minority Leader Alex Willette, an attorney who was a White House aide under former President Donald Trump, said his active-duty stint as a judge advocate in the Maine National Guard precludes a run.
Golden figures to be a reasonably tough out in 2022, though the national environment will likely play a major role in the race. He has been the most moderate Democrat in the House this year, according to VoteView, siding with Republicans to oppose gun and police reform bills as well as President Joe Biden’s stimulus. National Republicans are hitting him on issues including his recent support of Democrats’ election reform package and statehood for Washington, D.C.
As the 2020 race showed, candidates like Perkins, who is not one of Augusta’s best-known Republicans, have a lot of work ahead of them to build out a viable campaign. Crafts harnessed the support of former Gov. Paul LePage to cruise through a four-way primary. Beating Golden is likely going to take a candidate who can ramp up quickly.
The Maine politics top 3
— “As hospitalizations rise, older Mainers still seeing worst COVID-19 effects,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “Despite hospitalizations creeping up in April — a 38 percent increase from 74 on the first day of the month to 119 on Thursday — deaths have remained low at 21 so far this month. It is likely an effect of the vaccine campaign, which has dropped hospital admittances by 80 percent since the beginning of the year nationally, the Associated Press reported. Maine saw a similar drop.”
— “23 Mainers file long-awaited lawsuit claiming public ownership of intertidal land,” Nick Schroeder, BDN: “But Maine’s top courts have supported the decades-old decision in recent years, ruling in 2019 that intertidal zones belong to coastal homeowners, allowing them to deny seaweed harvesters the ability to cut and harvest algae from the coastal rockweed. Some scientists have criticized that ruling, saying it mischaracterizes seaweed as a plant rather than a marine organism, which the law permits under an easement allowing fishing.” Here’s your soundtrack.
— “Holden brothers sue Northern Light over data breach they claim left them vulnerable to identity theft,” Judy Harrison, BDN: “The complaint, filed Tuesday in Penobscot County Superior Court, claims that Northern Light violated Maine law by sharing personal health care information with Blackbaud Inc. for fundraising purposes without patients’ prior permission. Northern Light also allegedly failed to encrypt the information it shared with Blackbaud.”
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Jessica Piper, Caitlin Andrews and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.
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