New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will return to Maine this month to lend his support to state Republicans and Gov. Paul LePage’s re-election campaign.
The Aug. 12 event at the Lucerne Inn in Dedham will be co-hosted by former Gov. John McKernan and his wife, former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, who have supported LePage in the past.
The visit is the second this year for Christie, who is chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The group is expected to back LePage and the state GOP heavily in November.
Tickets range from $1,500 for “host” status, which buys an hour with Christie in a VIP reception, to $100, which buys a ticket for the larger general reception.
Christie is not the only big-name political headliner coming to the state to aid local efforts.
Longtime Democratic strategist and pundit James Carville will attend the annual Muskie Lobster Bake in Freeport on Sunday to raise money for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Democrats from around the state will be there, too, including 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, and Emily Cain, who is running for Michaud’s seat in the 2nd District.
– Matt Byrne
CANDIDATES OPPOSE LAWSUIT
The candidates for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat all oppose the idea of a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, a move backed by the current Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, House Republicans authorized the suit along party lines, accusing Obama of abuse of power. It hasn’t moved forward in court, but it is motivated by the president’s delay of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the health care law that Republicans have long fought. The effort is led by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
But, on Friday, both Republican Bruce Poliquin and conservative independent Blaine Richardson called the proposed lawsuit a waste of resources.
Poliquin, a former state treasurer from Oakland, said while there have been “a number of examples of executive overreach,” there are other ways to address it. “I cannot believe that one branch of government suing another for administrative overreach is a good use of resources,” he said.
Richardson, a retired Navy captain from Belfast, said in January that Obama “no longer respects the rule of law.” However, he said in a statement Friday that amid international conflict and a struggling economy, the lawsuit is a misplaced priority.
“The members of Congress, especially those in leadership, should be finding solutions instead of employing political distractions whose costs will be put on the backs of the taxpayers,” he said.
Poliquin and Richardson are running against Democrat Emily Cain, an Orono state senator, for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat running for governor.
“Mainers need a leader who will stay focused on real problems,” Cain said in a statement. “There is too much at stake to be playing these political games that cause gridlock and hurt the middle class,” she said.
– Michael Shepherd
CRITICISM OF MICHAUD OFF MARK
Gov. Paul LePage’s chief political strategist, Washington, D.C., consultant Brent Littlefield, fired off a press statement last week assailing the conspicuous absence of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the governor’s leading opponent in November, in national news articles on a landmark deal to reform of the veterans care system.
Michaud sits on the congressional committee that oversees veterans care, but Littlefield linked to 10 news stories about the deal that he said never mentioned Michaud as having a role.
“It is time to take the rose colored ‘I like Mike’ glasses off and look at the facts,” Littlefield wrote.
There was only one problem: Littlefield had his own facts wrong.
In the most in-depth account of the congressional negotiations to which Littlefield links, Michaud is quoted by the reporter as a force working inside the negotiations to keep both sides at the table, despite acrimonious public statements that appeared to drive them further apart.
“Meanwhile, lawmakers like McCain and Maine Rep. Michael Michaud, the top House Democrat on veterans’ issues, tried to help arbitrate talks between Sanders and Miller,” the Politico story read.
“They both had to do what they had to do, then it was time to move on,” Michaud said, according to Politico. “And they were both right. They know that we could not leave for the August break without getting a conference done and sending a bill to the president’s desk.”
One possible reason for Littlefield’s miss is that the part of the story in which Michaud’s name is mentioned appears on the second page of Politico’s report.
Littlefield did not yield on his argument. “At the end of the day, (Michaud) may be a participant, (but) being on a call and sitting on the committee is not the same as being a leader on the issue,” he said. Littlefield, however, ultimately distributed a revised version of his statement, pointing out the inaccuracies.
– Matt Byrne
BIGGER THINGS FOR MAYHEW?
The Maine Heritage Policy Center on Tuesday honored Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, during its “Freedom and Opportunity Luncheon” in Portland.
The conservative think tank’s “Freedom and Opportunity Award” is given annually to “the Maine citizen who has best demonstrated a core commitment to the principles of Freedom and Opportunity that serve to improve the economic well-being in this great state,” the group said in its news release.
In early July, my colleague Steve Mistler reported that Mayhew is rumored to be a future Republican candidate for governor, likely in 2018. That might seem unlikely for a former Democratic political aide, or for the head of a state agency that has long been a lightning rod for criticism and controversy. But there are some subtle signs, including Gov. Paul LePage calling Mayhew “a superstar” and bringing her to public appearances unrelated to her current job.
The award from the MHPC will do little to tamp down that speculation, since Republican Paul LePage won the award in 2007 – three years before being elected governor.
– Randy Billings
HAILING PINGREE’S COMMUTE
Before last Monday’s Democratic rally for Maine women, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and her family spent Sunday evening at 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s home on North Haven.
Wasserman Schultz not only got a taste of lobsters, but the Floridian also had a taste of what it’s like to commute from North Haven in quintessential Maine weather. The small island community of about 355 residents is located 12 miles off Rockland.
Pingree described the “circuitous” journey to Portland, including a soaking rain, rough ride on the ferry, near miss with another boat, and the long drive south. By the time they reached Portland, the city was covered in a think blanket of fog.
Wasserman Schultz said the commute made her realize how easy she has it.
“You officially, I think, have the most unique commute of any member of Congress in the country,” Schultz said of Pingree. “It’s really a mind-blower. I don’t know that I will ever complain again about my little two-hour jaunt from South Florida to D.C. You win. Hands down.”
– Randy Billings
Campaign Notebook is a compilation of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram political blogs, Open Season and Capitol Ticker. Press Herald/Telegram staff writers Steve Mistler, Randy Billings, Eric Russell, Kevin Miller and Matt Byrne and Kennebec Journal reporter Michael Shepherd contribute to the blogs.