The fourth special election of the 125th Legislature will likely be held in November, when voters in Senate District 20 will be asked to pick a new senator.
Sen. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, announced last week that he will take over as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, a job that entails lobbying and will prevent him from continuing to serve as a lawmaker.
Trahan, 48, served eight years in the House and three in the Senate. He worked for years to establish the state government watchdog office — the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability — and recently served as co-chairman of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee.
Trahan worked with the state Republican Party to repeal a Democratic tax plan last year, and helped to craft the income tax cuts and other tax breaks that passed last month as part of the state budget.
Trahan loved being in the Legislature, but said he has had a hard time in the last year with what he sees as a change in tone. “It’s become a little harsher tone than I’m used to,” he said.
Trahan is one of 20 Republicans in the Senate, which has 14 Democrats and one independent.
He fought in this session to get a constitutional amendment passed to secure a portion of Maine’s sales tax for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The measure failed by one vote to get the required two-thirds majority in the Senate.
A logger by profession, Trahan said he will leave that behind to focus on the job of leading the sportsman’s alliance. “To get a job like that, for me, is a perfect fit,” he said. “It’s exciting.”
Trahan said he will meet with the alliance’s board in early August to discuss a compensation package, and will likely resign from the Senate in September. A special election probably will be scheduled for November to fill the seat, which represents 21 towns in Lincoln County, two in Knox County and the Kennebec County town of Windsor.
The special election will follow three others since November:
• Rep. Everett McLeod Sr., R-Lee, died in December, opening up the seat in House District 11. Rep. Beth Turner, R-Burlington, was elected to the seat in March.
• Sen. Larry Bliss, D-South Portland, resigned his seat in March to take a job in California. Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, won the election to fill his spot.
• That opened up Dill’s House seat. An election for that seat is set for Aug. 16.
You can file this in the “inevitable” category, but a tipster reports receiving a polling call last week concerning the looming gambling referendums.
The campaigns promise to be blockbusters, with major profits at stake.
One ballot question will ask Mainers if they want to approve a casino with slot machines and table games in Lewiston. The other will ask Mainers if they want to approve racinos in Biddeford and Washington County.
Likely to oppose both questions are groups that recently won approval for a casino in Oxford and table games at Hollywood Slots in Bangor — pending approval by Penobscot County voters.
The polling call seemed to be testing ways a voter would be less likely to support the ballot questions, according to the tipster.
Hollywood Slots is owned by Penn National, which has spent millions of dollars for lobbying and public campaigns in other states to expand gambling or keep out competing interests. Our tipster said the poll tested favorabilities for both Penn National and Black Bear Entertainment, which owns the Oxford casino rights.
NEW COMMUNICATIONS JOB
When Peter Rogers takes over as the head of communications for Gov. Paul LePage next week, he will play an expanded role in the executive branch of state government.
The state budget created the Governor’s Office of Communications, and it will be up to Rogers to oversee the office.
The basic idea is to coordinate public communications within departments and agencies. The law calls for a statewide review of positions that are now responsible for internal and external communications, and authorizes Rogers to identify savings and positions to eliminate.
Rogers most recently worked as a deputy commissioner in the state Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management and ran state offices for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in Lewiston and Biddeford.
LEPAGE TOWN HALL
LePage will be in Dover-Foxcroft on Thursday for the next in his series of Capitol for a Day events.
After touring businesses and presenting an award to the local hospital, the governor and members of his Cabinet will take questions from the public from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Center Theatre, at 20 E. Main St.
LePage launched Capitol for a Day in February, and has held town hall-style meetings in five of the state’s 16 counties to date.
VETERANS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
A week after LePage focused his radio address on domestic violence, he asked veterans groups to “use their status as community mentors” to make it clear that domestic violence is socially unacceptable, according to his office.
He also asked veterans to lobby their legislators to help him “abolish the income tax on all retiree pensions, including military retirees.”
The ideas came about after the governor’s first meeting with leaders of veterans service organizations last week.
MaineToday Media State House Writers Susan Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this report.