Matt Gagnon has posted an as-yet-unconfirmed rumor that Democratic State Senator Lisa Marraché has decided not to pursue the Senate Presidency and to also drop her own campaign for re-election in District 25.
Susan Cover reports that a caucus will be held on June 30th to choose a replacement for Democratic District 21 Senate candidate Nancy Smith, who left the race after accepting a position as executive director of GrowSmart Maine.
Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland, put on pink bunny ears and walked around with stuffed ducks saying she "had all her ducks in a row."
(from Susan Cover's Statehouse Notes)
In his statement on Specter's switch, Maine Republican Party Chair Charlie Webster lays out a bold agenda for 2010:
I like a good challenge. The Maine Republican Party is ready for a good fight in 2010 and we are dedicated to capturing the Blaine House, the State Senate and making large gains in the Maine House.
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."
The site features a series of videos of Bishop Richard Malone of Portland answering questions from a group of what appear to be well-lit actors and a message to Maine from Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. The site also has a well-designed form visitors can use to contact their state legislators.
The site doesn't list the backers of what it calls the "Maine Marriage Initiative," but it appears to be a product of the Portland Catholic Diocese and groups associated with James Dobson's Focus on the Family, which is a parent organization of both the Family Research Council and the Maine Family Policy Council, headed by Mike Heath (which until recently was known as the Christian Civic League).
Tony Perkins will be visiting Maine on Sunday to speak at an anti-same sex marriage rally in Augusta. Here's a clip from his recent appearance on the Colbert Report:
Susan Cover at the Kennebec Journal has posted an interesting question on her blog today:
Turning to Maine politics, who was the best villain of our 2008 election cycle?
Tom Allen? Susan Collins? John Frary? The beverage industry? The Legislature?
How about Pat LaMarche and the casino folks? Or on the flip side, Dennis Bailey?
From her list, I'd definitely vote for the beverage industry.
For pure cartoonish villainy, however, I'd have to go with puppy mill aficionado Lois Snowe-Mello.
Here's a good first look at the budget from WLBZ/WCSH:
The main opposition so far seems to be focused on the plans to fire a large number of state employees and to transfer some inmates in the Maine prison system to private, out-of-state institutions.
Susan Cover adds up the state jobs lost in this article in the Kennebec Journal. You can see Tim Belcher, the executive director of the Maine State Employees Association, respond to the cuts in the clip above, where he predicts that they "will result in lives being shattered."
The prison plan is similar to one that was rejected by the legislature in 2007, and there's already been pushback from some Democratic legislators and the Maine Civil Liberties Union.
The Republicans, on the other hand, seem to be quietly supportive of the Baldacci plan so far.
There's still a long way to go on this one and the budget that actually passes may look very different from the governor's current proposal.
Susan Cover asked Governor Baldacci today whether he would consider seeking Olympia Snowe's senate seat in 2012. His response:
"Right now I love Maine. I was in Washington for eight years. I loved and was honored by the work I did in Washington, but my heart is here.
"My wife and I bought a place in Holden and we're gradually getting ready to move on, get Jack (their teenage son) in college, trying to encourage my wife to look at kindergarten teaching.
"There's an easy chair out there that has my name all over it.
"In terms of any other politics, I've told people I'm not running again. There's enough challenges right here in Maine."
Dennis Bailey, executive director of CasinosNo!, has taken aim straight at pro-casino spokesperson and Green Party stalwart Pat LaMarche with a new recurring feature on the group's website "The Daily Pat Down," which will be used to respond to her public statements.
Susan Cover reports that LaMarche says bring it on, asserting that "we're more than happy to go source for source with what we've got."
Susan Cover discusses a mysterious announcement from the Obama campaign.
The Maine campaign for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama will announce on Friday in Lewiston that "a prominent Maine leader" is endorsing the Illinois Senator.
Former Senator George Mitchell and Co-Chair of Maine Republicans for Obama, Sherry Huber, will also join the campaign for the endorsement at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College, according to the Obama camp.