Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, is sworn into his leadership post by Justice Andrew Mead of the state's high court at the Augusta Civic Center on Dec 2, 2020. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Good morning from Augusta. The special session to approve redrawn maps of Maine’s congressional, legislative and county commissioner districts starts at 10 a.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I told them I’m not blaming anybody, but it’s not good for us and not good for our school. Please help me stop this,” said South Portland High School principal Michele LaForge about students who are trashing bathrooms and stealing hygiene equipment as part of a TikTok trend. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

A group of Maine unions are trying to encourage the Maine Senate president to run for governor after seeing some of their top priorities vetoed this session. It was no secret that Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, was frustrated with Gov. Janet Mills after she vetoed his bills related to prescription drug bill pricing, requiring the hiring of unions for public construction contracts, and employment and arbitration laws. That irritated progressives in the Democratic Party, and a sect of unions who are now hoping Jackson, a longtime union advocate, will challenge the governor next year in a primary.

The group Run Troy Run is backed by at least three unions — the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Teamsters Local Union No. 340 and the Maine chapter of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. Jackson has worked with the machinists and the allied trades union in differing capacities, working for the latter as recently as this past session, according to legislator financial disclosure documents.

Mark Vigliotta, the president of the Maine Machinists Council, said the idea is to garner interest in a Mills primary candidate by raising pledges of $5 that will only be donated to Jackson’s campaign if he chooses to run. The group intends to file as a political action committee, although the state’s campaign finance commission said Wednesday no group with such a name had filed yet. 

Vigliotta expressed skepticism he would support Mills even if no challenger jumped into the ring. Her vetoes of progressive bills and what he saw as a lack of action on changing federal lobster trapping regulations — which Mills has fiercely opposed and joined a lawsuit against Monday — shows she is out of touch with the state’s working class, he said.

Currently, only Tom Saviello, a former Republican state senator leading the charge against Central Maine Power’s hydropower project, is teasing a potential gubernatorial campaign as a third candidate, but he said he would hold off on his final decision until after the November corridor referendum. 

Divided support from unions could be a challenge for Mills, but it seems unlikely Jackson would jump into the race. The launch of an effort to garner a primary challenger reflects progressive attempts to convert their frustration with Mills’ vetoes into an electoral change. Even if they are not successful in recruiting Jackson, it raises the question of whether some of the activist groups that backed Mills in 2018 will give her the same level of support next year.

Jackson denied he would be interested in running for governor earlier this year,

Jackson denied he would be interested in running for governor earlier this year, expressing a preference for the gritty work of Augusta lawmaking rather than the governorship. Last week, in response to the launch of former Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s comeback bid, Jackson issued a statement noting he and Mills had had their differences, but that she “has proven to be a strong and capable leader.

“Now is not the time to go backward,” he said.

Vigliotta noted in a Tuesday op-ed that the group had not contacted Jackson about its efforts. Divided support between Mills, Maine’s first woman governor, and a prominent Democrat would only benefit LePage.

Mills, who has not formally announced her reelection campaign but is raising money, has not seemed worried about a progressive challenge. In July, after announcing her intention to veto a consumer-owned utility bill, she pointedly noted that she had nixed a relatively small share of bills of the hundreds introduced last year: less than three percent.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Tens of thousands of Mainers will move to different legislative districts due to new maps,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “Maine is set to become just the second state to finalize its new districts after Oregon passed maps earlier this week. Although a delayed census shortened the time period for the Legislature’s bipartisan commission to act, lawmakers ultimately reached deals on legislative and congressional maps at the last minute — including a deal on Maine Senate maps on Monday, the commission’s final day of work.

— “Energy giant accuses Maine of lawlessness in Kennebec River dam dispute,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The latest lawsuit hinges on a 1998 agreement between Brookfield, the Kennebec Coalition, and state and federal marine and wildlife agencies. The Kennebec Coalition is a group of conservation organizations interested in salmon restoration and dam removal.”

The hydropower giant argues the state is violating that agreement by trying to impose fish standards without going through an agreed upon process. But Maine and environmental groups slammed the lawsuit, arguing it was frivolous and avoiding the real challenge of trying to solve fish passage issues.

— “Maine lawmaker says he’ll renew rejected effort to create new child welfare department,” Sawyer Loftus, BDN: “DHHS spokesperson Jackie Farwell said the creation of a new agency would undermine work that’s already underway to make improvements at the state agency. That work includes collaboration with Casey Family Programs, a national group that DHHS has brought in to probe the recent child deaths, on evaluating the department’s policies and procedures.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. 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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