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Big Talk: Election Aftermath

Big Talk host Al Brewer and I discuss the results of Tuesday's election, with a focus on the Portland mayoral race and Question One on the statewide ballot.

For the poll numbers we discuss, see these posts over at Down East.

For the full results of the mayoral race, including the IRV rounds, see this detailed spreadsheet courtesy of Jack Woods.

Download the episode here. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Maine Health Care Showdown Looms

In case you haven't heard, this morning the Maine House will vote on a proposal to roll back health insurance laws in Maine. The bill would allow insurance companies to charge more based on age and area of residence and to bypass regulations by setting up shop in another state with weaker protections and selling across state lines.

It will likely harm seniors, people with pre-existing conditions, small business owners, and people who live in parts of Maine with less access to health care.

I say likely because at this point, Maine people haven't actually seen the whole bill, much less been given time to understand it. These provisions were rammed through as an amendment on Friday, increasing the bill (LD 1333) from four to 29 pages without a public hearing. Then, more changes were made yesterday afternoon after it was discovered that portions of the bill violated federal law.

In fact, the only people that seem to know everything that's in the law at this point are the insurance companies and the right-wing Maine Heritage Policy Center, both of whom bill supporters admit had a hand in writing the legislation. Read more »

Maine's Child Labor Law on Hardball

MPA's new ad on the attempts by Governor LePage and Republicans in the Legislature to roll back child labor protections was featured on Hardball with Chris Matthews last night:

LePage Offered Free Vacation Reading Material

I think I'll set aside my "no press releases on the blog" rule for today to share this:

The Maine People’s Alliance and Longfellow Books are offering Governor Paul LePage some light vacation reading as he leaves the snowbound State of Maine for a golf vacation in Jamaica.

“No one should judge Governor LePage for taking a break. He’s had a tough couple months in office,” said Maine People’s Alliance communications director Mike Tipping. “We hope that he takes the opportunity to engage in some self-reflection, learn a little more about the world, and come back to Maine more ready to work with others.”

Books on the list include a collection of essays about former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, Silent Spring, the book that sparked the modern environmental movement by exposing the dangers of DDT, and self-help books on how to resolve chaos and conflict.

“We will provide expedited, free shipping to either the Blaine House or Jamaica for any of these books,” said Chris Bowe, co-owner of Longfellow Books and a member of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “Perhaps spending a little time relaxing on the beach reading up on conflict resolution, labor history and environmental science will change the governor’s attitude and tone.” Read more »

Progressive Backlash Begins

Last week, Governor Paul LePage went out of his way to identify himself with besieged Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. He told Politico "[...]quite frankly, once they start reading our budget they're going to leave Wisconsin and come to Maine because we're going after right to work."

Today at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, I discuss LePage's comments, the situation in Wisconsin and the beginnings of Maine's own progressive backlash. Despite the title of the piece, it isn't just about teachers' pensions vs. tax cuts for millionaires. I believe the broad opposition to LePage's agenda will likely grow as LePage and his allies continue to push a a series of ideologically-based bills aimed at undercutting his political opponents and rewarding his corporate and conservative friends.

I also talk a bit about the lack of a response from the Tea Party, which seems to have quickly withered after their victories last year. This isn't just true in Maine. As Charles Blow writes in the New York Times this week, it's the same all over the country. His thesis: "The Tea Party is synonymous with anger. Anger defined it. Anger fueled it. Anger marred it. Anger became its face and its heart. But anger is too exhausting an emotion to sustain."

I also mention an event on Thursday at the capitol hosted by the Maine People's Alliance. It's not a protest or a rally, but a chance for progressives to educate themselves and lobby their legislators on a wide range of important issues. More information and a form to RSVP can be found here.

Read more »

Playing Defense Without Being Defensive

This time last year, my biggest pet peeve was that every story about a progressive victory inevitably included a quote from Tarren Bragdon of the Maine Heritage Policy Center. In those days, I often ranted about how "fair and balanced" reporting was giving Bragdon a free press hit every time we scored a win. (This is a great example of a Bragdon freebie from the not-so-good ol' days).

A year later, I wish I had such a pleasant gripe.

With Bragdon now ensconced in the new administration, there are many more things to complain about. Defense will be our top priority for the next two years, as evidenced by the list of bill titles put in for this session. Even our best work won’t be able to fend off all of the ugliness in this listRead more »

Articulating a Positive Vision of Maine

Prior to moving to Maine in February of last year (yes, I moved in February- thank goodness it was a soft winter), I spent four lucky years travelling around the U.S. working with grassroots organizations to build their state and local organizing campaigns. I spent the majority of my time moving between New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and our great state of Maine. While, I had a deep respect for the struggles, and successes of organizers in each of these states, Maine was always an outlier. The activists and organizers in Maine were able to reach a level of discourse, collaboration and outcomes that few other states are able to reach. That’s one of the major reasons I chose to leave Brooklyn, DC, Chicago and other places in the dust and moved to Lewiston.

True to Maine, whenever I’ve tried to explain this phenomenon to folks living in the state, they often shrug and smile- very humbly. Perhaps that’s because we can never be satisfied by our social justice work. It can feel like there is always work left to be done. Or, perhaps we have not yet had many opportunities to observe just how strong and productive our community is in the face of real and immediate opposition that is on the attack. Read more »

The MPA Straw Poll

I'm very excited about how well MPA's text message based straw poll of the gubernatorial race is going.

I was excited to try out some new technology but was worried that our membership and the general population of Maine, both of which skew a bit old, might not be into the whole "texting" thing.

It seems I was wrong. We've had hundreds of responses, coverage in the Keenebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, and it was great to see volunteers for all the candidates at the recent Democratic convention wearing stickers asking delegates to text in a vote for their candidate.

If you haven't yet voted, just send a text message to 978-242-6207 with the last name of any of the 11 candidates in the gubernatorial primaries. If you'd like to round up more votes for your preferred candidate, feel free to invite your friends to this Facebook event.

Results will be announced this Thursday.

You Know You're Doing Something Right When...

During the weekend GOP debate, Steve Abbott announced in his closing statement that the main consideration for Republican voters should be electing a nominee who can "do battle" with "issue entrepreneurs" like the Maine People's Alliance.

I imagine this will get some play around the office today. Thanks, Steve.

Bill the Beer Guy

Obama giving a shoutout to Bill Milliken, member of the Maine Small Business Coalition: