Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Monday, February 28, 2005

Democratic Communication

I have word that the new Maine Democratic Party Website will go live at 7:00 tonight. Judging from these comments, this is a highly anticipated event.

If you don't think that Republicans in Maine are using the internet more effectively at the moment, check out the Google Page Rank (a measure of the popularity and value of websites) of the respective state party sites. Republicans 5, Democrats 2.

[Update] The website looks nice, and this (PDF file) is a great bit on Senator Davis. I could have done without the cartoon though. It's not particularly funny and in a time when we're in the majority, it seems petty.

The real innovation is the blog, which in less than a day of existence already has its first troll. They might want to look into moderating the comments.

Also, it could use a better name than just "blog". I think "The Maine Democrat" has a nice ring to it. Feel free to make your own suggestion.

Visit the new Maine Politics.

Social Security Misinformation

The Maine Heritage Policy Center has released its first "issue brief" on Social Security. This single-page memo was edited by James Hamilton, an operative sent to Maine by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. This discussion from the right-wing website gives an idea of what Hamilton is after. "Most reformers agree that the ideal is to fully privatize Social Security" he says, and goes on to compare Social Security to a Ponzi scheme.

The brief was written by Leanne Abdnor who founded the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security which, according to the New York Times was "started by Ms. Abdnor in the late 1990's at the behest of the National Association of Manufacturers, [and] now includes powerful industry lobbying groups. The alliance has close ties to the White House."

The memo written for Mainers by these two right-wing Washington pundits states "...when baby boomers begin to retire in about 10 years, [Social Security] taxes wont be enough to pay their promised benefits.The benefit obligations will begin to soar, with the shortfall each year."

This piece of spin fails to recognize the fact that the Social Security system has reserves to cover benefits after this date and that if the economy continues increasing at the same rate as it has in the past (as recently discussed) there will be no problem with Social Security ever.

This reminds me of a similar line that President Bush has used to argue for privatization. He said Social Security "will be bust in 10 years unless there are some changes.. The ideal solution would be for Social Security to be made sound and people given the chance to invest the money the way they feel." He said it to the Midland Country Club during his unsuccessful run for Congress in Texas in 1978. Social Security didn't end in 1988 and it's not going to end in 2015, or 2025, or for as long into the future as we can currently predict.

Visit the new Maine Politics.

A Clean Campaign for Governor

Jim Brunelle today lauds Baldacci for considering running for re-election as a clean elections candidate.
The act, launched eight years ago in a statewide referendum, was designed to take ownership of the election process away from the well heeled and the special interests and give it back to the people of this state [...]

But the real test of success won't come until major contenders for governor sign up as clean elections candidates. And it can't be regarded as completely successful until it is routinely employed at all levels [...]

That's where the voters come in. We have to create a climate of equality and fair play for the election process, in which a stigma attaches to the candidate who chooses old-style private funding to mount a campaign.

Visit the new Maine Politics.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ethan Strimling

The PPH today examines Strimling's contrarianism and his prospects for higher office.
Strimling is comfortable taking a stance others lawmakers may shy away from. He has drawn the ire of business leaders, conservative Christians and members of his own party. The senator is now opposing the Democratic governor's plan to sell future lottery revenue to balance the state budget - a key vote in a closely divided state Senate [...]

Colleagues describe the senator as articulate, smart and handsome. They are quick to add that such qualities do not guarantee advancement in Maine politics. State party chairman Patrick Colwell said Strimling is a rising star in Cumberland County but questioned whether he could attract support beyond its borders.

Visit the new Maine Politics.

Social Security Math

UMaine Political Science professor Amy Fried explains the math behind the Social Security Trustees' estimate that benefits will have to be decreased in 2042.
How good is the trustees' assumption? It's clear that these are very low economic growth assumptions. As conservative columnist George Will has pointed out, the assumed 1.8 percent growth rate is half the average growth rate since the Civil War.

And the trustees do not have a good track record. Their prediction for when Social Security will have insufficient funds keeps getting moved forward, from a prediction of 2029 in 1994, to 2034 in 1999, and now to 2042. If economic growth is only a little higher than what the trustees assume, in 2042 Social Security will have little or no problem fully paying retirees.

In fact, if the economy grows just 1 percent faster each year than the trustees predict, there will be no problem covering Social Security costs until at least the end of this century.

Visit the new Maine Politics.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Gay Rights Fight Begins

Governor Baldacci has submitted "An Act to Prevent Discrimination" to the legislature for consideration, declaring (from the AP) "This is good for business. This is good for Maine. It is the right thing to do. In Maine, we need not fear our neighbors."

When I spoke to veteran Maine political columnist Al Diamon a few weeks ago for the column he wrote about this site, I just had one question for him in return: Why, in his opinion, was gay rights legislation defeated in the 2000 referendum election?

Click here to read the rest of this entry.

In 1995, Mainers rejected a ban on legislating equal rights based on sexual orientation. In 1997, after three decades of trying, a bill preventing discrimination was passed in the Maine legislature. Both of these actions seemed to confirm that the state of Maine was a tolerant and accepting place.

In 1998, the law was narrowly repealed in a "people’s veto", but the vote was in the middle of a blizzard in February in a special election. Most people wrote off the result as simply a case of huge turnout and tricky politicking by the small but motivated Christian right.

When revamped anti-discrimination legislation was put forward in a legislatively mandated referendum in 2000, it looked sure to pass. Most of the state’s political, business, and religious establishment was behind the measure, and polls put support at around 60% a week before the vote. Then something strange happened. As the returns came in, the vote began to deviate from the polls. In the end, the measure lost by 4,834 votes (less than 1%).

There were various explanations for the result. Some folks immediately declared that there was an underlying anti-gay sentiment in the state. James Roberts of USM told the Portland Press Herald "I think there's a real problem here in trying to measure public opinion [...] You don't want to label yourself as a bigot, so you lie to the pollsters."

Amy Fried, a Political Science professor at UMaine expressed a similar opinion to the BDN. "They don't want to come off as discriminating against anyone and they don't always tell pollsters the truth," she explained.

Governor King, however, thought it was something else.
"It would be easy to wake up this morning to this result and say that the people of Maine are biased, prejudiced, and that this was an anti-gay vote," said King. "I don't think so. They were not persuaded that the change was necessary. I suspect that some part of that [vote] are people who don't like gay people. But I think a significant part were just not persuaded that this was necessary, that there was a need for this. For whatever reason they never got the message across that it was needed. The polls were so one sided that the advocates didn't realize the extent to which they had to make their case. They felt like it was just going to happen."
- Bangor Daily News, November 9, 2000

Diamon leans towards King’s explanation. The people of Maine don’t hate gays; they just weren’t convinced that the law was necessary. The pro-rights side believed the polls and ran a complacent and lackluster campaign, the Christian Civic League turned out their base, and that was that. 4,834 votes.

Diamon had some other insight as well. He predicts that the fight in the legislature this year will be a much tougher battle than many think, and believes that the body has recently become much more socially conservative.

The CCL hopes that’s the case. In an email today, Michael Heath asks members to contact their representatives, and explains that "Stopping this in the Legislature is going to be much less costly and difficult than stopping them in another statewide ballot fight."

Equality Maine has suited up as well. They have set up an online form that can be used to contact your elected officials. I urge you to go there now or use the links in the sidebar of this site to contact your Senator and Representative immediately (and often). This is an issue that goes to the heart of how we view our state and how we treat our neighbors and fellow citizens. We are currently the only state in New England where it's legal to fire someone or kick them out of their home simply for being gay.

If the law passes and another referendum campaign occurs, Diamon had three words of advice for the anti-discrimination side, "Hire Dennis Bailey."

Visit the new Maine Politics.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Bill Could Restrict Referendums

It's not every day I get emails from both Mary Adams and the Green Party urging the same action on the same bill. LD 374, "An Act To Create a Protected Zone around the voting Place" would restrict petition gathering for referendum campaigns at polling places. That's potentially bad news for grass-roots referendum campaigns.

The bill is under consideration today by the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Visit the new Maine Politics.

Snowe for President?

The BDN takes a look at a fledgling online campaign to recruit Olympia Snowe to run for president in 2008.

I spoke with the man behind, 25 year-old Simon Dodd of Indiana, yesterday by email and got a look at the website that's currently in development.

The site goes into great detail about the Senator's record and history and attempts to make the case that her brand of Republican moderacy is exactly what the country needs. The following appears under the headline "Why Olympia Snowe?":
  • First, Senator Snowe will absolutely demolish any nominee that can be fielded by the other party, winning the 2008 election with a huge majority that cuts across the "red/blue divide";
  • Second, Senator Snowe will return the Republican party to the center of politics, where polls have repeatedly shown the majority of Americans reside.

  • What the site makes little mention of is how exactly a pro-choice, nominally pro-gay rights woman who voted against Clinton's impeachment is supposed to win the Republican nomination. The only mention of this detail is in the "campaign strategy" section which explains the need to "Form and develop a clear rationale for advocating Sen. Snowe's contesting (and winning) the 2008 primary" and "Identify and analyze potential primary competitors, such as Sens. McCain and Frist, Secretary Rice, or former Speaker Gingrich; form arguments for supporting Sen. Snowe over those candidates."

    But hey, maybe there's something to this. As Dodd says in his email:
    What's really strange is that three weeks ago, I didn't know if anyone else was going to be even vaguely interested in this idea, and now we're gettting 150+ hits every week and the press is interested. I think those things say absolutely nothing about any efforts we've made, and a great deal about the Senator's credibility as a candidate. All we did was couple the words "Olympia Snowe" and "potential President", and her record speaks to people for itself.

    The site will eventually be up at and their blog is located here.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    Political Gang Warfare

    Diamon today gives examples of Baldacci laying the smack-down on county commissioners, business groups, and state legislators, and declares that "he’s demonstrated a remarkable ability to put the hurt on his enemies".

    It will be interesting to see how he handles the increasing opposition to his lottery plans.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Saving the Filibuster

    EBW of Wampum led a group of volunteers with People for the American Way and Working Assets to speak with a representative of Senator Snowe yesterday about the "nuclear option".
    When it was my turn to speak I said "Two years ago I was writing a standards draft for the Internet Engineering Task Force, and listening on MPR to Senator Byrd try to stop a certain bill from passing. If this change to the rule of the Senate happens, we may never have the chance to ignore Senator Byrd again." Ms. Lyon looked up from her note taking at the surprising turn of phrase. I explained that Senator Byrd was attempting a filibuster on the Authorization to Use Force in Iraq, and that if the filibuster was lost, that Robert Byrd, or some future Robert Byrd, would not even take to the Well of the Senate and speak on an issue as important as war or peace.

    Go here for more.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Primary Challenge to Snowe?

    The CCL's daily caricature of the Christian right "The Record" today contains an interview with representative Brian Duprey of Hampden.

    Q. Are you going to seek higher office in the next few years?

    A. I am considering running for the Senate against Olympia Snowe. If I can raise enough seed money to kick off a credible campaign, I will take the initiative and run. I will be watching her voting record very carefully. If she votes against President Bush’s judicial nominees, or tries to block the President’s agenda, it will speed up my decision to run.

    In the interview, Duprey also expounds on the "activist judges" attacking marriage, his ideas about abortion, his view of which party is more Christian, and his relationship with Baldacci. "I am not exactly on speaking terms with the Governor" explains Duprey.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Michaud, Allen Defend Social Security

    BDN Article:
    Maine's two Democratic congressmen returned home with a dire warning about President Bush's plan to reform Social Security by allowing workers to invest some of their payroll taxes in private accounts. "Social Security is under a threat as never before," 2nd District Rep. Michael Michaud told a town hall forum at the Hammond Street Senior Center, where about 70 people gathered Tuesday afternoon.

    "If the administration is truly concerned about protecting Social Security, [Bush's] privatization scheme is the last thing we should do," said Michaud, who was joined in Bangor by 1st District Rep. Tom Allen.

    The Congressmen will hold another forum in Portland on Monday. Here's the info:

    Monday, February 28, 2005
    1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Ludcke Hall - University of New England
    716 Stevens Avenue, Portland

    For more information you can contact Allen's Portland office at 1-888-862-6500.

    Michaud is also holding town-hall meetings on the issue today in Lewiston, Norway and Fryeburg. (Unfortunately, there's no information about these up on his website).

    [Update] Michaud is holding two more forums this week.

    Thursday, February 24
    30 Park Street, Dover-Foxcroft

    Friday, February 25
    Greenville Town Office
    7 Minden Street, Greenville

    The Sun Journal has an excellent editorial (registration required) summing up the fight over social security and how it is playing out in Maine. They go over much of what I mentioned yesterday and reveal another layer to the campaign:
    The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank has one of its scholars working in Maine. As a visiting fellow for the Maine Heritage Policy Center, James Hamilton will edit a new publication called "Social Security in Maine." For those familiar with either Heritage group, the publication's point of view won't come as a surprise. It will advocate for dismantling the current social contract of Social Security.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Squeezing Out the Moderates

    Pandagon has a post today titled "Blame Olympia Snow" about a new Republican strategy to get around the filibuster.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Attack on AARP Begins

    For those wondering what shape the anti-AARP campaign will take, here's the first shot across the bow in the form of an ad on the American Spectator's website:

    That's right, they're claiming that the nations largest association of retired folks hates our troops and loves same-sex marriage. What this slander has to do with the AARP's principled stand on Social Security, I have no idea. Here's a bit more about USA Next, the organization behind these attacks.

    The print edition of the Sun Journal today goes into more detail (registration required) about the involvement of a firm with Maine connections. Partner Erik Potholm, originally of Harpswell, is quoted in the article.
    "There is no question," said Potholm, "that the current Social Security fight may be the biggest public affairs campaign in Washington since the failed Clinton health-care plan in 1993." [...]

    "When it comes to Social Security," he said, "President Bush and the Republican Congress have a much more difficult task. They must first convince people there is a problem - that's why you've seen the president travel all around the country laying out the serious challenges the current system is facing. Then, they have to convince people that reform - in whatever shape in takes - is the solution.

    "The Democrats, on the other hand, have a much easier job," he continued via an e-mail interview exchange. "All they have to do is raise doubts about it. They can just be against it."

    There's a danger in doing that, though.

    "It is much harder to convince people to vote 'yes' than it is to vote 'no.' Of course, by not offering an alternative solution," he said, "the Democrats in Washington run the big risk of simply being seen as obstructionists, which greatly turns off voters."

    He declined to discuss details of the USA Next campaign.

    I love the fact that even before his firm has been officially hired for the job, Potholm is already hoping for Democrats to come up with a compromise. He realizes that the president's plan is simply unpalatable to Americans. For instance, a recent poll found that only 24% of Mainers support partial privatization. If the Democrats stick together, there will be no political cover for Republicans, and privatization will fail.

    [Update] Yglesias says it better than I ever could.

    As for obstructionism, the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports:
    Fully 60%, including one-fourth of Republicans, say Democrats in Congress should make sure Bush and his party 'don't go too far.' Just 34% want Democrats to 'work in a bipartisan way' to help pass the president's priorities.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Is Your Senator Hot or Not?

    The height of political discourse. Here's Snowe (4.9) and Collins (4.2). Democrats seem to be doing much better than Republicans.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Maine Firm to Help "Dynamite" Opposition to Social Security Privatization

    Via Starting Point. The New York Times is reporting that the groups that ran the "Swift Bota Veterans for Truth" campaign during the last election are being hired to "orchestrate attacks" on the AARP and their opposition to the privatization of Social Security.
    The lobbying group, USA Next, which has poured millions of dollars into Republican policy battles, now says it plans to spend as much as $10 million on commercials and other tactics assailing AARP, the powerhouse lobby opposing the private investment accounts at the center of Mr. Bush's plan.

    "They are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts," said Charlie Jarvis, president of USA Next and former deputy under secretary of the interior in the Reagan and first Bush administrations. "We will be the dynamite that removes them."

    The Maine connection comes through Rick Reed, partner at the Maine firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm who USA Next is attempting to hire. The firm previously did media production for the Swift Vets.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Conservation and Efficiency

    Two aticles in the KJ today highlight conservation efforts in Maine. "A new push for conservation", examines how the state is moving towards a sustainable future:
    Kennebec Journal PhotographBaldacci created the Office of Energy Independence and Security about two years ago. Since its formation the state has increased its purchase of renewable power from Maine facilities from less than 30 percent to 40 percent of state electric consumption.

    The state also increased its use of a 10 percent biodiesel blend to heat government office buildings more than six fold last year. Biodiesel incorporates waste vegetable oil, a renewable energy source, Nagusky said.

    State buildings also boast vending machines that consume half the energy of traditional models. The government even used Christmas to spread its message of conservation, using lights on the state Christmas tree that consume 1 percent the power of traditional lights.

    On the transportation front, the state features a van pooling program that currently is 15 vehicles strong. That van fleet will double in size over the next three years, Nagusky said.

    State employees who car pool or drive hybrid cars receive preferential parking at government buildings, all of which is part of an executive order from Baldacci to improve fuel efficiency and reduce the number of miles driven by state employees.

    Speaking of hybrids, Mainers seem to be flocking to the new cars despite the relative utility of an SUV or truck for navigating the Maine winter.
    This year, for the first time, Charlie's Toyota in Augusta has a pair of Prius cars out on the lot waiting to be purchased.

    That wait is not likely to be long given the growing popularity of cars that combine a gas engine with an emissions-free electric motor. Yes, hybrids are hot, at least in a relative sense.

    Luxy LeClair, general sales manager at Central Maine Motors Auto Group in Waterville, said if the Prius were readily available his salesmen would sell 15 to 20 a month.

    Never underestimate the combination of Yankee frugality and Maine's environmental conscience.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Promoting Small Business

    Speaker John Richardson has a commentary in the PPH today on the his work with 15 other democratic lawmakers to talk with small business owners and introduce legislation that meets their needs. After having held seven forums across the state, the group has now introduced 15 bills to help the small business community in Maine. You can follow their efforts at

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    Change is Good

    I have reworked the comments system to make commenting easier and faster. Also, the most recent comments from front-page posts are now displayed in the right sidebar so you can easily see what's new. Big thanks to Blogger Hacks for helping me to get it all working.

    The site has been up for a month and the response from the press, politicians, and the public has already exceeded all my expectations. I want to focus more now on building a community. Lets make this the place to go if you're a democrat and want to talk state and local politics. So if you have an opinion about a post, leave a comment. If you have an issue you want raised or information you want to share, send me an email. If you enjoy politics in Maine as much as I do and want to contribute to the site's content, let me know.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.


    Jansen takes a look at the Bankruptcy reform act (previously mentioned here) and who could be affected in Maine.
    The subject also is important to Mainers because the state has a high rate of bankruptcies. Some 4,497 Mainers declared bankruptcy during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2004, according to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. About 90 percent filed under Chapter 7, with all but one of the rest under Chapter 13.

    Total bankruptcies, including those involving businesses, hit 4,647 last year, up from 4,597 the year before and 4,352 the year before that.

    Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., criticized the credit-card companies for inviting customers to rack up debt - including the 3-year-old son of one of his staffers.

    The bill does nothing to stop the abuses of bankruptcy by the wealthy and corporations, but strips away protections from low and middle-class Americans who are hit by unemployment or illness.

    The bill was stopped once when Clinton, judging it unfair to consumers, refused to sign it and again in 2002 when it was first approved in the house and then defeated there after Senator Schumer (D-New York) managed to attach an amendment that would have prevented convicted anti-abortion terrorists from declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying court judgments. Democrats will again attempt to attach this amendment and others in order to stall the bill.

    Both Snowe and Collins voted for the Schumer amendment after Republican leaders urged GOP senators to vote for the motion in order to deny Al Gore the tiebreaking vote. It will be interesting to see how they vote this year. Credit-card giant MBNA was by far the largest contributor to both senators in their last elections.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Chellie Pingree Blogs

    Pingree, now President and CEO of Common Cause has been posting on their "Common Blog". Yesterday she responded to complaints about CC's work with Arnold Schwarzenegger to promote nonpartisan redistricting by invoking her history in Maine politics.
    Before I came to Common Cause I was the majority leader of the senate in Maine. I watched the redistricting process conducted first hand -- and saw how politicians from both sides of the aisle configure the process to protect their "safe" seats. Until I had to leave the senate because of term limits (which I oppose and which are a bad way to have political turnover), I won (as a Democrat) in a district that was 40% Republican, 40% Independent and only 20% Democrat -- all while being a strong supporter of increasing the minimum wage, universal health care coverage, corporate accountability, and had taken on one of the biggest fights on prescription drug pricing in the country... so I can't be convinced that politicians are better off in "safe" seats -- or that leaders are stronger if they are comfortable instead of being out there fighting great campaigns with a message.

    So, if you are a progressive, as many of our respondents have been, and you want to see more Democrats who are willing to take on the issues of our day and not just sit comfortable in their state seats, than you should care about both the way district lines are drawn (and publicly financing of campaigns, of course -- which we have in Maine and consider another critical fight).

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Town Hall Meetings

    The first of the Maine Democratic Party town hall meetings is being held right now in Portland (if anyone reading this attended, let me know how it went).

    Four more meetings are being held over the next couple weeks.
    • Sunday February 20 12:00pm
      Rockland Middle School

    • Saturday February 26 12:00pm
      Lewiston Multi Purpose Center

    • Sunday February 27 10:00am
      Bangor High School

    • Sunday March 6 12:00pm
      Fort Kent University of Maine, Fox Auditorium

    You can RSVP to attend here. The MDP site is getting more useful every day (the email list works now too).

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    The Man Snowe and Collins Voted For

    Rex Rhoades asks "What has Alberto Gonzales wrought?" (registration required)
    Manadel al-Jamadi’s hands were cuffed behind his back. Then he was suspended by his wrists in an Abu Ghraib shower room. A half hour later, guards lowered him to the ground, according to an Associated Press report last week, and blood gushed from his mouth. U.S. soldiers then took turns photographing his corpse as they grinned for the camera.

    Jamadi may have been guilty of something. He may even have been a terrorist who had information useful to U.S. forces fighting insurgents in Iraq. Unfortunately, he died before any of that could be determined [...]

    Good God, what has Alberto Gonzales wrought? His now infamous 2001 memo to the president, essentially setting aside the prohibitions against torture and confinement established in the Geneva Conventions, set the stage for this scandal.

    The scariest part of this post isn't the graphic description of abuse, or the fact that Gonzales was rewarded for his actions, or even the lingering questions about what effect the acceptance of torture has on our national morality and international standing. The scariest part is the poll (completely unscientific I assume) on the right of the page showing 40% of Sun Journal readers who responded believe torture to be an effective tool in the war on terror.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Stupid Bill Lifetime Achievement Award

    Jim Brunelle explains the history behind one of our nominees.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Term Limits

    From this week's Diamon:
    Reason number 692 why the current Legislature will not extend or abolish term limits: As a keen observer of the political process pointed out in a recent email, Democrats, who control both chambers by narrow margins, are unlikely to tinker with the law because it offers them an advantage in the next election.

    In 2006, the Dems will lose six members of the state House of Representatives to term limits, but 13 Republicans will be escorted from office. In the state Senate, only GOP floor leader Paul Davis will be termed out.

    Even better for the donkey party, many of the departing House Republicans represent districts that could swing either way, while the Dem retirees are mostly from safe seats.

    Funny, considering the drive for limits in '93 had a lot to do with getting rid of John Martin.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    [Insert Hunting Metaphor Here]

    An article on Sunday hunting appears today in all three Blethen newspapers. The headlines describe Baldacci's proposal as alternately "dead," "misfired," or "shot down." Here's the gist of it:
    Sunday hunting, at least as proposed by Gov. John Baldacci, is dead, legislators and others said Wednesday.

    But a compromise is in the works [...]

    One part is to allow Sunday hunting in the state's northwest, which Smith described as north of Moosehead Lake.

    The second part is to allow hunters to hunt on their own land and invite guests, regardless of where they live [...]

    Legislators who serve on the IF&W committee are split on Sunday hunting in general. Many are opposed to it. Some are willing to consider a compromise -- but at least one is not.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    State House Technology

    Rep. Stephen Bowen (R - Rockport) is an eight-grade teacher who wants legislators to have the same tools as his students. From the AP:
    Bowen said use of e-mail and the Internet could dramatically reduce spending on paper.

    Rep. A. David Trahan, R-Waldoboro, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the computers should remain at the Legislature for use only during the day. He said they would be state property reserved for future lawmakers´ use.

    Bowen said the state's buying power would reduce the cost initially and save on printing over the long run.

    While some new legislators may need to be trained, Bowen said it would be no different than preparing teachers when the state put laptops into the middle schools.

    "I would love for us to pull this institution into the 21st century," he said.

    For an idea of how this could work to improve the functioning of the legislature, check out this essay from the Maine Policy Review way back in fall of '98.

    [Update] Baldacci is "not on the DL. He's day to day." after his fall this morning.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    More on the Cost of Care

    From a BDN article today on mental health coverage:
    State officials say the cash-strapped MaineCare program would save about a million dollars a year if private insurance companies paid for mental health services as mandated by the Maine Legislature in 2003. But at a public hearing Monday in Augusta, insurers and the business community argued that forcing the issue will drive up the price of health coverage for all Mainers and end up costing the state more than it saves [...]

    [Portland Representative Ben] Dudley pointed out that insurers already have raised premiums over the past two years, partly in anticipation of paying more for mental health services. "The question is, has the industry been benefiting without the state getting the intended savings?" he said.

    Why are insurance companies currently allowed to disregard a law already passed by the legislature? If I get pulled over for speeding, I doubt the officer would be agreeable if warned him or her not the "force the issue" by giving me a ticket. The fact that insurers have already raised their rates while not paying for the services the state has mandated is reprehensible.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Costs of Care

    An editorial in the Sun Journal today reviews a Harvard study on the leading cause of bankruptcy in Maine.
    When experts talk about the crisis in America's health care system, two culprits are often the focus: double-digit yearly increases in costs and the 45 million people who lack insurance.

    The problem, however, goes much deeper. A new study from Harvard University researchers has found that about half of all personal bankruptcy filings in the United States are the result of unpaid medical bills. Even more disturbing, a majority of those bankruptcies were middle-class homeowners who had health insurance, at least at the start of their illness.

    The study reports that three out of every four individuals declaring bankruptcy because of medical bills had insurance when their illness began.

    In addition to passing deep cuts to social programs that might have helped these people, the Bush administration and Republicans are trying to strip away the last shreds of protection from these kinds of crushing costs. On Thursday, the Senate Judiaciary Committee will begin hearings on the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act" (Orwell would be proud). The bill does nothing to prevent the abuses of companies like Enron and Worldcom, does nothing to reform the homestead exemption that millionaires use to protect their assets by buying mansions, and even shields anti-abortion terrorists from being liable for civil penalties. What the bill does do, however, is make it harder for those who genuinely need to declare bankrupty, especially those who have been blindsided by a serious illness, to recieve protection from their creditors.

    The Sun Journal piece also mentioned Baldacci's attempt to improve the situation:
    And Dirigo Choice, an innovative if risky proposal to increase the number of Mainers with insurance and slow the escalation of medical spending in the state, must be constantly defended from ideologues who hate it so much they would kill it in the crib before it has a chance to attract participants and grow into a successful program.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    Cohen's Southern Strategy

    Former Maine Senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen is now employing the considerable lobbying skills he once used to keep Maine's military bases open to advocate for Florida's 21 bases. The Sun Journal has the story (registration or BugMeNot required).
    Leaders in the efforts to save Maine's bases say they are unsure what effect the high-paid lobbyists, including Cohen, will have.

    "We wish he were working with us," said Richard Tetrev, who leads the task force that is trying to preserve Brunswick Naval Air Station.

    Why isn't he here?
    "His price tag is very, very high," said retired Navy Capt. William McDonough, who is working on the effort to preserve Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. "We couldn't afford him."

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Campaign Spending Rules Examined

    The PPH reports on the move to better define legitimate campaign expenses after a small number of questionable expenditures during the last election.
    Political candidates would no longer be able to bill taxpayers for out-of-state travel, car repairs, charitable contributions or their own restaurant meals under a plan to tighten rules for using public funds in campaigns. The four new restrictions are some of the practices that the executive director of the state ethics commission wants to crack down on[...]

    Using tax dollars to feed campaign volunteers is legitimate, said commissioner Andrew Ketterer, but candidates should not be billing taxpayers to take their spouses out to a restaurant.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Blogger Problems

    Blogger finally implemented a rational comments system, but that means my jury-rigged comments have stopped working. The comments will be down until tomorrow when I have time to fix them.

    The comments are working again. To post a comment, simply click the link at the bottom of the post permalink page. The format of past comments has only been affected slightly.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Godwin's Law

    Nemitz takes Heath to task for his over-the-top rhetoric, reported here on Wednesday.
    "The statement is clear," Heath insisted Wednesday after his league newsletter, "The RECORD," compared homosexuals with, of all people, Hitler. "I clearly say they are not Nazis."

    What Maine's minister of morality did do, however, was equate homosexuals' "desperately evil" quest for fair treatment with the "Nazi tyranny" of more than half a century ago. Leave it to Heath, just before the Legislature takes up an equal-rights bill for gays and lesbians, to play the Hitler card[...]

    "I'm clearly saying they're not Nazis," Heath repeated. "They're not killing people. They're not setting up concentration camps."

    No, Mike, they're not.

    Just like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, they were in those camps.

    The column also mentions that Heath refers to himself in the third person as "youthful and buoyant" in the same email.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Racino Bill Revamped

    It's a good day for freedom of information and public oversight.
    The committee removed privacy protection for such information as the political activity and civil and criminal histories of gaming companies and their employees. The revisions would also require these companies to release information on the compensation of top executives. And the public could see some data on the racino's operation.

    Previously discussed here.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Welcome Diamon Readers

    Al's columns are always hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed his take on me and the site. He might not remember, but 10 years ago in the Bangor Daily News, he wrote "Political campaigns resemble pornographic slasher movies." If that's true, Diamon is one of the best movie critics out there.

    The most interesting part of our talk last week was on the subject of past referendums on gay rights and the future of this kind of legislation. Al had some real insight here and I'll be writing more about that later.

    Oh, and just for the record, Halifax is south of Bangor.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    "Admitting we were wrong"

    George Smith, executive director of SAM has an editorial in the Kennebec Journal (and the Sentinel) today under the above title in which he writes about regretting his vote for term limits.
    I joined a majority of Mainers in making a bad mistake by voting to enact term limits in 1993. Sixty-eight percent of us thought that we could no longer be trusted to elect the right people to the Legislature, turning instead to an arbitrary four year term limit for all representatives and senators.

    That will show 'em, we thought. Yea, we showed 'em the door, all right. But when that door slammed, it hit us right in the head.

    We foolishly gave up our right to decide who represents us in the Maine House and Senate, deciding that experience was unnecessary to effective and efficient representation of our interests in Augusta. We were flat out wrong.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    The CCL

    It's easy to dismiss the gay-bashing rhetoric of the Christian Civic League as just so much right-wing lunacy, but their political abilities shouldn't be ignored. They managed to gather enough signatures, and then enough votes to first bring the anti-discrimination bill to a referendum and then defeat it twice in state-wide elections while being outspent 10 to 1. Right now, they are focused on defeating gay rights in the legislature and passing an anti-same-sex marriage amendment. To that end, they have created a website to help their members know where legislators stand on the "homosexual agenda". You can check it out here.

    I'd also like to take this opportunity to applaud Mike Heath for taking a great step towards tolerance and rationality in today's CCL email, where he admitted that gay people did not, technically, perpetrate the holocaust, declaring: "Homosexuals aren't nazis [sic]. Their ideology is, however, evil."

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Moral Values

    If you don't get the daily email diatribes from Mike Heath and the Christian Civic League of Maine, I suggest you sign up for them; they're hilarious. I'm going to try to resist criticizing their rantings too often because they're simply too easy a target, but one item they sent out yesterday caught my eye.
    Adelphia Communications Corp. has taken the next step in what William Bennett called "defining deviancy downwards," by announcing that it will offer explicit pornographic materials on its cable service to Southern California. The purpose is to reach Los Angeles, Adelphia's largest market. A spokesperson for the company said that so-called "hard-core" pornography may also be distributed through other Adelphia outlets across the nation[...]
    Those in the cable industry have suggested that the recent decision to broadcast explicit pornographic material was based on simple greed. Adelphia is one of the largest cable television providers in Maine.

    From ABC News via DKos:
    While the [cable] corporations generate millions in profits from providing adult content, their political contributions are often given to those elected, in no small part, because of their stance on "moral values."

    According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Comcast Cable has given millions in political donations since 1998. The national Republican Party committees are its biggest organizational recipient, with donations totaling $851,000. President Bush is its biggest individual recipient with $109,000 in donations.

    Adelphia has given $166,000 to Republican committees, $17,000 to conservative Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., and $12,000 to Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., one of the most conservative members of the Senate.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Hurting Maine

    Along with deep cuts in national environmental and education programs, Bush's new budget takes aim at programs and services that are vitally important to our state. Virtually every news outlet in Maine has this story this morning. Here's a bit from the Morning Sentinel article:
    President Bush's federal budget worried Mainers more for what was missing than what he included, with cuts proposed for Medicaid, Amtrak train service, defense shipbuilding and veterans benefits.

    "This budget includes cuts to some of our most valuable programs that are essential to Maine -- including ill-advised and shortsighted cuts to our nation's shipbuilding budgets and reductions to essential heating assistance for our most poor citizens," said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine[...]

    Other aspects of the budget fared worse. l Medicaid is a closely watched program in Maine because the federal government pays about two-thirds of the health-care costs for the impoverished, disabled and children. But Bush's budget would cut $342 million that Maine is expecting over the next decade, according to the advocacy group Families USA. After five years, the cuts could deny services to 2,500 seniors or 13,400 children, according to the group.

    "The greatest damage will be done to the sickest, oldest and most vulnerable people now receiving health coverage through Medicaid," said Ron Pollack, executive director of the advocacy group[...]

    Michaud, D-Maine and a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, argued that troops returning home will be neglected. Funding for the Veterans' Affairs Department will fail to keep pace with medical inflation, and not meet recommendations from groups such as the Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    "At a time when we are creating new needs for veterans' health care every day in Iraq, we should support our troops and our veterans by strongly funding the VA health system," Michaud said.

    2/3rds of the Bush cuts target education, with dozens of programs being eliminated completely. He did, however, find the money to increase funding of abstinence-only sex education by $39 million.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    New Contender for Stupidest Bill

    The PPH reports that Sen. Jonathan Courtney (R - York) will sponsor a bill seeking to restore the death penalty in Maine for cases of domestic violence that lead to murder. The death penalty is a bad idea in any circumstance (it's not a credible deterrent and the chance of an innocent person being killed is high) but it makes even less sense for the kind of crimes Courtney wants to apply it to.
    "There really is no deterrent" in many domestic-violence homicides because the abusers are so obsessed with killing their victims that they are indifferent to the legal consequences, according to Kim Roberts, executive director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence.

    Maine has had no death penalty since 1887 and is one of six states in which a prisoner serving a life sentence is not eligible for parole.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    "Political Thugs"

    A trial date has been set for James Tobin of Bangor, head of Bush's re-election campaign in New England, for his alleged involvement with jamming Democratic phone lines three years ago. Andy has more.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Snowe is not "against the president's plan" to cut Social Security

    It looks like Snowe has taken some heat from Republican leaders on her Social Security position, possibly because of the Washington Post article reporting that she didn't clap for it during the SOTU. MB doesn't think Snowe will support privatization, and neither do I, but the Senator does seem to want to have it both ways. Her press secretary on Friday painted her as open to Bush's privatization scheme (via Raw Story).
    Hartman said the senator had been unfairly criticized as being against the president’s plan[...]

    I wouldn't say it's fair to say that she's against the president's plan, he told RAW STORY. She's cautious and she wants to examine all the options out there.

    Snowe's press secretary mentioned no specific parts of the president's plan Snowe agreed with, however, simply saying that aside from diverting the Social Security payroll tax into private accounts, all options were still on the table.

    Whatever other details of the plan she hasn't said anything about, he remarked. She's said something about payroll tax, not about personal accounts."

    If I were a republican, I might call what he's doing "flip-flopping".

    Josh Marshall is considering her status within the Consciense Caucus.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Weblogs in Maine

    They aren't always easy to find, and they're usually talking about national issues, but Mainers having left-leaning political discussions on-line do exist. I've scoured the net and added a new category in the side bar listing five progressive, in-state weblogs. Join the Discussion is the new blog launched by Sam Spencer that I hope he will continue, Wampum has done an excellent job discussing a wide range of topics and is known for in-depth analysis of national politics, Cheers and Jeers is the most recommended diary at DailyKos, a website that receives upwards of 400,000 visitors a day, Progressive Reason is a new blog discussing national issues with a Maine perspective and a focus on activism and Starting Point (which started one day after Maine Politics) is Lewiston Sun Journal executive editor Rex Rhoades' daily discussion of the news. None of these sites write much about state and local politics right now, but there's always hope. Perhaps a state Democratic Party weblog will be joining the list soon as well.

    Those aren't the only left-leaning bloggers in the state. Nascence, Ross Kaplan, and Spinning Plates are just a few examples of some of the personal web spaces that offer an occasional tidbit of political commentary from their Maine writers as well as other posts on a wide range of topics.

    The internet is being used more often as a medium for discussion and action in local politics and that's a good thing for democracy. A timely example of this is the Equality Maine online pledge, which has already gathered 225 signatures since yesterday.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Postcards from Buster

    Maine Public Broadcasting is asking for viewer input about whether or not they should run an episode of the television show "Postcards from Buster" that briefly includes two Vermont families headed by lesbians (press release here).

    The show recently came under attack from the new U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. She insisted to PBS that "Many parents would not want their young children to be exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode." The episode was subsequently pulled from national rotation, but has been showed on WGBH Boston and other local markets. There was a Portland Press Herald article on the controversy yesterday, and there is an editorial today in the Portsmouth Herald urging stations to air the show. From that link:
    The Portsmouth Herald strongly supports the right of public television stations in Maine and New Hampshire to air the "Sugartime" episode of "Postcards from Buster" and encourages them to do so.

    We feel confident that when these stations hear from their viewers, the message will come through loud and clear: Stand up for tolerance and reject the fictional notion that only one kind of family is good for America. Common sense and decency have long been the tradition in New England [...]

    The episode’s critics seem to believe that the mere presence of a household run by two women in some way advocates a homosexual lifestyle to our children. We’d remind these critics that there are many different kinds of families in America, and some of them are led by same-sex couples. In Vermont, where these women live, the state bestows full legal rights on their civil union.

    Maine PBS can be reached by email at or by calling 1-800-884-1717.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Snowe, Collins Condone Torture.

    Both Senators voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales yesterday.

    From Today's NYT:
    The confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general yesterday was depressing. The president deserves a great deal of leeway in choosing his own cabinet. But beyond his other failings, Mr. Gonzales has come to represent the administration's role in paving the way for the abuse and torture of prisoners by American soldiers and intelligence agents. Giving him the nation's top legal post is a terrible signal to send the rest of the world, and to American citizens concerned with human rights...

    It was Mr. Gonzales who asked for the original legal advice from the Justice Department on the treatment of prisoners in the "war on terror." There was no need to go through that exercise; the rules were clear. But Mr. Gonzales gave the president the flexibility he wanted, first in the Justice Department memo outlining ways to make torture seem legal, and then by offering the Orwellian argument that the president can declare himself above the law and can order illegal actions like detaining prisoners without a hearing and authorizing torture...

    Republican senators argued that it was unfair to say Mr. Gonzales was personally responsible for the specific acts of torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib. That would be a fair defense if anyone were doing that. The Democrats simply said, rightly, that Mr. Gonzales was one of the central architects of the administration's policy of evading legal restrictions on the treatment of prisoners. He should not have been rewarded with one of the most important jobs in the cabinet.

    They chose partisanship over morality.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Baldacci, Gay Rights, Patriots Do Well in Poll - Bush and Eagles Get Cool Reception

    The BDN reports on a Strategic Marketing Services state-wide poll released yesterday.

    67% of those polled rated Baldacci's performance as governor as either good or excellent. The poll also found that 69% of Mainers supported at least same-sex civil unions and more than half of those supported full marriage rights. Support for Bush's partial privatization of Social Security was at 24%. 79% of those surveyed predicted the Patriots would win the superbowl.

    The poll surveyed 400 Mainers and was conducted between Jan. 24 and Jan. 29. It has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

    In tangentially related news, Baldacci has hired a new spokesman (AP story here).
    Former freelance reporter Lynn Kippax of Kennebunkport will become Gov. John Baldacci's chief spokesman as of Monday, the administration announced.

    Kippax will replace Lee Umphrey, who has headed the governor's communications office since Baldacci took office in 2003. Umphrey will oversee the governor's constituent services staff and become legislative liaison for Baldacci.

    Kippax's website is

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Thursday, February 03, 2005


    From a recent newsletter:
    As staff members at the Maine Democratic Party have worked to update the party's website recently, plans for more significant changes are underway. Pat Colwell and Executive Director Rich Pelletier-Simpson have begun exploring what the party can do to make the website a more accessible and engaging tool for Democratic activism.

    "With the recent presidential campaign of John Kerry and especially with Governor Howard Dean's campaign, we've seen how a good website can be a powerful tool to connect individuals to the larger network of activists throughout the state and across the country," said Colwell. "It's about time the Maine Democratic Party has a website that really works for Democrats who want to get involved."

    Since the party website was first posted in the late 1990's, there have been significantly more user-friendly options made available to organizations that need a website. After the complete renovation, the site will be more visually appealing, easier to navigate, and easier to update.

    This is great! The current website is a dinosaur and the Republicans are using the internet much more effectively in this state. For instance, they had a menu on the front of their website during the last election that allowed Republicans to find the candidates in their area and quickly sign up as a volunteer. On the Dem's site, the link to sign up for the state-wide email list doesn't even work (go try putting in your email right now if you don't believe me).

    I hope this also means they'll be using a weblog or a similar system to better communicate with democrats across the state. I've seen how well it can work. In just the two and a half weeks this site has been up, I've had emails from prominent Democrats, other bloggers, and members of the media in Maine, the site's gotten thousands of hits and the logs show there's a large and growing number of people that check in several times a day (you know who you are - thanks for stopping by).

    Making a website "a more accessible and engaging tool for Democratic activism" isn't just about the software, however. It's going to take a commitment from Democratic leaders to be more open and engaged with the members of their party. Dean didn't get netroots support because he had a cool website, he got it because his campaign manager and members of his staff were willing to actually get online and talk with their supporters.

    For an example of how this can work in Maine, one needs look no further than Sam Spencer's open forum he created to discuss the race for DNC Chair, where hundreds of democrats came together to discuss the future of their party. Yesterday, Spencer announced that all four Maine members of the DNC have backed Howard Dean (press release here) - by the way, there's still nothing about that on the Maine Democratic Party site. I hope Spencer continues to communicate with Maine democrats online (one post does not a weblog make) and I hope the rest of the party leadership follows his lead.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005


    The State of the Union will be on at 9 tonight.

    Here's the drinking game.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Maine's Government Gets a B-

    That's the word from the Government Performance Project as reported by the Morning Sentinel today. This is the second-highest grade for New England, with Vermont rating the highest with a B and New Hampshire rating the lowest with a C.

    In the report, which can be read here, Maine ranked high in the "money", "people", and "infrastructure" categories while scoring a lower mark in "information". This anecdote from the report helps to explain that lower score:
    Maine is a law-abiding state, and its laws require that the Governor’s Office insert into the budget at least three performance measures for every one of the state’s thousands of programs. The administration of Governor John Baldacci dutifully complied with the rules upon taking office in January 2003. The budget was then submitted to the legislature, where a clerk removed the performance measures and printed the budget bill without them, because the legislature’s computer system can’t support the measurement data.

    Of course, the information still exists, and enterprising legislators can get access to it. But the whole charade highlights the chasm between performance budgeting as a paperwork mandate and as a useful instrument of the governmental process. The most telling point is that the state’s Performance Budgeting Commission has had one meeting in the past four years.

    The project also faults term limits for reducing efficiency, reporting that "the underexperienced and overworked Maine legislature has been almost entirely consumed with making sure it produces a balanced budget under ruthless pressure".

    It could be, however, that they just spend too much time arguing about their license plates.

    [Update]: The BDN has an article on the report as well, titled "Study: Term limits compound state's fiscal woes".

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Free Trade and Maine

    The Bangor Daily News has an editorial today discussing the impact of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and what role Maine citizens can have in the process. Our role is greater than you might think.
    International agreements usually don't give a hoot what states think - trade negotiations are mysterious and Congress has prevented itself from amending the agreements; it merely can vote yes or no. Maine last year, however, gave the state a voice - not a powerful one, but at least an informed, bipartisan one - in trade agreements by approving the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission, the only one of its kind among states. Thursday, it will be in Bangor (from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Husson College) to gather the thoughts of Maine residents on CAFTA. Even if you are just hearing about the trade agreement for the first time, it would be worth attending to find out what others are thinking.

    These kinds of agreements are important, not just because of the broad effect they can have on people across the world, but also because of the ways in which our state can be affected directly.
    Like all states, Maine receives frequent requests from other nations to adjust its laws and procedures based on the language of trade agreements. These changes may be minor or substantial; either way, they are largely out of the hands of the state.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    DNC Race All But Over.

    It's more than a week until the votes will be cast, but with Frost dropping out of the race, allegations regarding Fowler's handling of the 2004 campaign in Michigan, Webb giving his endorsement, and a quarter of DNC members already pledged to the man from Vermont, it looks like Dean will be the new chair.

    This looks to be good news for Maine, where a huge number of vocal Democrats recently expressed their support for Dean at an online forum. Dean's plans for the DNC include an increased focus on the strength and voice of state parties including greater support for interactive technology.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.

    Possible Possibles

    The PPH speculates today on who will be the Republican challenging Governor Baldacci in 2006.

    Most of the prospective candidates who were interviewed Monday said it is too early to make such a decision, although former Republican state Sen. Philip Harriman, who helped to lead the failed campaign for a tax cap in November, ruled out a bid for governor in 2006.

    Topping the list of possible Republican contenders is Peter Cianchette, who placed a credible second to Baldacci in 2002. Cianchette said Monday that he is "certainly going to give it consideration" but does not expect to make a decision before September.

    Other Republicans mentioned as possible candidates include former U.S. Rep. David Emery, former state Senate President Richard Bennett and the current minority leader in the state Senate, Paul Davis of Sangerville.

    Bennett could not be reached for comment Monday. Davis said he will not decide what to do until late this year. Emery said it is "highly unlikely" that he will run.

    That's bad news to any of you who had Harriman at the top of your roster for the Maine Republican Politicians Fantasy League.

    The article also mentions Jonathan Carter, Roxanne Quimby, and John Eder (who describes Baldacci as an "awesome politician") as possible Green party candidates.

    Visit the new Maine Politics.