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John Baldacci

Senate Maneuvers Intensify

Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud both say they're likely to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe. Former Governor John Baldacci has also taken out papers to run. If no one turns away, it could become one of the biggest and most important Democratic primaries in Maine history.

According to the Huffington Post, Pingree and Michaud huddled on the House floor yesterday to discuss the race, with neither backing down from their plans.

Pingree also went on MSNBC last night, sounding very much like a candidate:

Read more »

Richardson Runs, Resigns

Newly minted gubernatorial candidate John Richardson's morning rally in Brunswick:


The former Maine House Speaker announced today that he intends to seek the Blaine House and will be resigning from his position as Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development to do so. Governor Baldacci has announced that Richardson will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Thaxter Trafton.

Richardson's campaign has the beginnings of a website up at www.johnrichardsonformaine.com. He will run as a clean elections candidate.

And speaking of succession, Augusta Rep. Patsy Crockett has announced her intention to run for the State Senate seat being vacated by Senate President and gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell. Mitchell has endorsed her bid.

Baldacci Signs Equal Marriage Bill

I have the video of the entire House debate of the equal marriage bill and I'll have it online as soon as I can wrangle the file.

In the meantime, things have advanced pretty far since yesterday. The Senate had a procedural vote on the bill and Governor Baldacci quickly signed it, ending weeks of speculation on his position on gay marriage. Baldacci said that he has come to believe that "this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage."

Full statement here.

Budget Hearing Today

The Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on Governor Baldacci's new budget plan at 9am this morning. The proposal seeks to close a new $570 million gap with cuts to education, health care and state employee salaries and benefits.


You can view the details of the package here.

No Easy Choices on Budget

A good summary of the new budget outlook:


No easy choices here. Most agree there will have to be big cuts to important programs as well as tax increases. Turns out the federal stimulus money didn't actually solve all our problems.

Political Party

One letter to the editor in the Portland Press Herald caught my eye this weekend - a short note that managed to impugn both the governor and the state's largest newspaper in less than 100 words:

I was initially surprised to see that the Press Herald and Sunday Telegram did not provide any coverage of the fall of Washington lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti (as detailed in The New York Times on March 29 under the headline, "Star Lobbyist Closes Shop Amid F.B.I. Inquiry"), especially since the article points out the close relationship between Gov. John Baldacci and Magliocchetti.

On further contemplation of your newspaper's situation, I realize that the lack of coverage should not be all that surprising.

Ralph Dean
Freeport


Dean is apparently a retired Navy captain who serves on some town committees in Freeport and has contributed to Susan Collins' senate campaign.

The New York Times article he references makes clear that the lobbyist in question engaged in a wide range of questionable (if not yet proven illegal) practices. Whether he had any significant relationship with the governor is much less certain, however. Here's the part where Baldacci is mentioned:

The background of a December 2001 article in Vanity Fair about the social life of a young Congressional aide captured a snapshot of Mr. Magliocchetti in his element. Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, he and a PMA colleague, Daniel Cunningham, were hosting a rowdy table of lawmakers at dinner in a private room in the Capital Grille that included Representatives Mike Doyle, Tim Holden and Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania; Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey; Representative Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts; Representative John B. Larson of Connecticut; and former Representative John Baldacci of Maine, now governor. (Mr. Larson reportedly led the group in a sing-a-long of Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Rolling Stones songs.) All were members of an informal group that followed Mr. Murtha’s lead. Asked recently about the night, representatives of the lawmakers declined to comment.


The Vanity Fair piece, while an interesting read, doesn't provide much more in the way of details, except to note that then-Representative Baldacci was at one point "sitting silently at the head of the table" on the evening being described and that by the end of a night of eating, drinking and singing, he had agreed to write a medical school reference letter for one of the young, female Washington interns who were the subjects of the feature.

It'll be interesting to see if anything more surfaces as the investigation of Magliocchetti continues.

Watch the State of the State

Video of yesterday's State of the State, from MPBN.

More on Bonds

WLBZ/WCSH has a good breakdown of the governor's proposed bond package:

Bondage

Governor Baldacci has proposed a $306 million bond package to invest in Maine's infrastructure and economy. The proposal is meant to complement the federal recovery package recently signed into law by President Obama.

If the legislature were to pass the package as it's currently formulated, the bonds would go to voters in two chunks - $265.8 million this November and $40.4 million on the June 2010 primary ballot.

Update: Susan Cover has some initial reaction from Republican House leader Josh Tardy:

"We are open to gaining a full understanding of the governor's proposal and will review it carefully, keeping in mind that bonds represent just one component of the action we must take to protect the jobs of Maine people and foster a climate that will create new ones. Maine state government cannot simply borrow our way to prosperity. It must be just part of a strategy that includes working to improve the business climate and relieve Maine's high tax burden and energy costs."