Ron Paul supporters Mike Kreamer of Monmouth and his partner, Karen Latlippe, attended their first Maine Republican Party State Convention this weekend.
They described it as hectic.
“You could see the establishment kind of drag their feet and try to keep those crazy Ron Paul people on the outside,” Kreamer said.
Yet with many of them showing up before 6 a.m. Saturday, raising multiple points of order during the proceedings, and garnering a majority of the delegates to the national convention, the Paul supporters successfully took over the convention. Even though they know Paul will not be on the ballot in November, they are proud to support him, Kreamer said.
“It’s good to see a bunch of Republicans that aren’t only overly concerned with social issues,” he said.
For one state senator, the Paul supporters’ enthusiasm and youth is a welcome addition to the Grand Old Party.
“It’s a sign of a party that’s becoming more and more diversified, and I think that’s healthy,” said Sen. Ron Collins, R-Wells.
THE LEPAGE EFFECT
One convention-goer this weekend said she’s seen a big difference in the state, and at the state Department of Environmental Protection in particular, since Gov. Paul LePage has been in office.
Charlene Strauss of Bass Harbor said she and her husband have tried for years to get DEP permits for a road that leads to their small boatyard. The problem has always been that at high tide, water washes over the road.
“The DEP representative who had come down through the years said this used to be called marine habitat,” she said. “Now under LePage, we call it a road.”
They still had to shell out a lot of money to get their permits, but they finally have them in hand, she said.
“We attribute that 100 percent to Gov. LePage,” she said.
MORE GAY-MARRIAGE OPPONENTS
Erick Bennett, a Republican who worked on LePage’s campaign and ran as a write-in for Portland mayor, says he intends to form a new political action committee to oppose gay marriage.
The Maine Marriage Allies PAC, based in Portland, will soon become official with a filing at the ethics commission, Bennett announced last week.
“This is the fourth time they tried to pass gay marriage in Maine after both sides spent almost $10 million neither was able to explain what the issue was about,” he wrote in a news release.
By fourth time, he is referring to two votes to add gays and lesbians to the protected classes listed in the Maine Human Rights Act and the 2009 vote to repeal gay marriage, 53-47 percent.
Calling himself the Maine Equal Rights Center, Bennett said he wants to provide a website and Facebook page so people can discuss all the issues surrounding gay marriage “so Mainers can cast an informed vote to defeat gay marriage in November.”
“The Maine Equal Rights Center supports the people of faith that want to protect what they consider the sanctity of marriage, but we also support same-sex couples getting the legal benefits everyone else does,” he wrote.
A few weeks ago, religious leaders who support gay marriage gathered in Saco to talk about how best to help pass the ballot question this time around. Other supporters include the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine Peoples Alliance and the Maine Women’s Lobby.
Bennett’s group is the third distinct effort in opposition. The National Organization for Marriage and Christian Civic League have joined together to fight the ballot question, and Michael Heath and Paul Madore say they too will have their own group in opposition.
DEMS TO TAKE SNOWE’S SEAT?
The Hill published a story recently in which Democratic strategist U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said that the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, would be under Democratic influence come next year.
Schumer was discussing the likelihood that Democrats would retain the chamber after the election. The story focused primarily on states where Democrats have a chance to add to their current majority, but Schumer had this to say about Maine, where independent Angus King is the current frontrunner.
“There’s only one state where the strong likelihood is there’s a pick-up,” Schumer said. “That’s Maine and that’s ours.”
Schumer’s comments were immediately seized by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has been advancing the narrative that King is a Democrat cloaked as an independent. King has declined to say which party he’ll caucus with if he’s elected in November. Brian Walsh, with the NRSC, said in a statement that King is keeping quiet in an effort to trick Republican voters.
“It’s simply insulting to voters in Maine and to the candidates running for the Democratic nomination that King is playing this dishonest, cat-and-mouse game,” Walsh said.
MAIL MIX-UP FOR POLIQUIN
State Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Poliquin did not receive his $5,000 check from a Texas PAC until after a federal reporting deadline, according to the Republican strategist who coordinates the PAC.
“He didn’t get it until April,” said Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
That’s important, at least to close observers of the primary race, because it helps explain why Poliquin didn’t have to file a recent financial disclosure report along with all the other candidates.
Jesmer oversees Alamo, a political action committee created by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. As reported last week, Alamo sent $5,000 checks to Poliquin and four other Republican candidates in March.
While the other four candidates reported March financial activity that included the donation, Poliquin did not file any report.
Poliquin’s check was disbursed on March 6 along with several of the others, but it took Alamo longer to get a correct mailing address for Poliquin’s campaign than it did for the others.
“There was an address mixup so it did not get to him until after the (April 1) deadline,” Jesmer said.
Any candidate who raised or spent more than $5,000 by March 31 was required to file a financial disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission. Poliquin is the only one of 10 Republican and Democratic candidates in the race who did not file a report on fundraising and spending though March. The treasurer also declined to disclose his campaign’s financial activity when asked by a reporter.
All 10 candidates in the June 12 primary will have to file updated financial disclosure reports at the end of May.
Political reporters Susan Cover, Steve Mistler and John Richardson contributed to this column.