This Week in Maine Politics: Oct. 16, 2022

Early voting by absentee ballot; litter boxes; the environment; housing were among the most notable political topics in Maine over the last week.

by | October 16, 2022

Today, we continue a periodic compilation of reporting on the state’s politics leading up to the Nov. 8 elections.

In person absentee voting starts

Early voting via absentee ballot began last week around Maine. Here are the details.

According to the Maine Secretary of State’s office, “You can request your ballot online or fill out an absentee ballot request application and send it to your municipal clerk. You can find the application on the Secretary of State’s website. You can also call your town clerk directly to make a request over the telephone.”

You can request an absentee ballot right here and you can find your polling place with this handy tool right here. 

Maine Public reported that, as of Tuesday, Democrats had requested about 60 percent of the 85,000 absentee ballots distributed at that point. Republicans tend to vote on Election Day.

Maine Public offers a question and answer feature right here.

Issues: LePage and Mills on the environment

The Press Herald took a look at the environmental records and plans of the candidates for governor. 

After eight years of Paul LePage’s administration, Janet Mills rolled back a lot of his policies and sought to expand solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. 

In an interview with the Press Herald, LePage said he is both pro-business and pro-environment.

“We’ve never had the environmentalist elites and we never will,” LePage told the Press Herald. “Well, I don’t want them, OK? The blue collar guy, the working man, the small business guy. They’re my people. They’ve been my great supporters in 2010 and 2014 and I suspect they’ll be there again for us this year.”

Politically, the Press Herald noted, it would seem Mills benefits because the environment is a leading issue for Mainers. But so is the economy.

“. . . twice as many respondents identified the economy as their top concern as those who said environment or climate change. That total number grows higher when all the inflation, cost of living and unemployment respondents get added in.’’ the Press Herald reported.

Fact checking 

Maine Public’s Steve Mistler and Kevin Miller did the important work of reviewing some of the political ads inundating the airwaves this month, and found inaccurate and misleading commercials about the gas tax, Social Security and immigrant policies. Read it all in their Political Pulse newsletter here. 

The Bangor Daily News also took on a Maine Republican Party that falsely claims Mills wants to raise the gas tax. Not true, the BDN reported. 

Abortion politics

A Christian, anti-abortion group that’s an ally of LePage attempted to calm members concerned about his abortion stance, despite his statement at a debate that he wouldn’t support legislation enacting a 15-week ban.

Maine Public reported that the Christian Civic League wrote in its newsletter that the former governor’s answer was “concerning,” but that “politicians are notoriously inconsistent especially on this issue.” 

According to Maine Public, the newsletter went on to say:  “First, we must remember their (LePage and Mills’) histories. Both may have sounded the same on the debate stage, but both of them have notably different records. Not only has Paul LePage given us written acknowledgement that he opposes taxpayer funding of abortion, but he has a history of pro-life statements that have been consistent with him and his administration while in office.”

At a debate, LePage said he would veto any bill that would change Maine’s abortion law. That law allows abortion up to viability, which is about 28 weeks. 

Housing

The Bangor Daily News took a look at LePage’s plan alleviate the housing shortage.

LePage “wants to increase the housing supply by getting school districts to consolidate and use old buildings for homes,’’ the news outlet reported. 

“I could name you dozens of schools that could be converted into affordable housing,” LePage said at a debate with Mills and independent candidate Sam Hunkler. “And we did it in Waterville, and it could be done all over the state.”

Kevin Bunker of Portland-based Developers Collaborative told the BDN that the approach was more complicated than LePage suggested. 

“It doesn’t make a lick of sense, frankly,” Bunker said of LePage’s idea.

The legislature passed a housing bill last spring. 

Phrase of the week: “Litter Box.’’

Republican congressional challenger Ed Thelander, on a conservative website over the summer, “repeated a debunked social media myth that litter boxes are being put in school bathrooms to accommodate ‘furries’ — people who dress in animal costumes,’’ the Press Herald reported. 

Thelander backtracked last week when the clip resurfaced. No litter boxes, it turns out. No furries, either.

“I don’t believe it now,” Thelander told the Press Herald, explaining why he raised the myth. “I’ve been asking for pictures, for confirmation, and no one has provided me a picture, so I can’t believe it.”

As for more information on the rest of the District 1 race, you can watch the debate between Thelander and incumbent US Rep. Chellie Pingree here.

 

David Dahl is the editor of The Maine Monitor. He can be reached by email: david@themainemonitor.org.

A banner ad encouraging people to donate to The Maine Monitor newsroom. The text reads "Your trusted nonprofit newsroom" and features a donate button. Composite images in the banner include the state house, a teacher reading a book to her young students, a woman gardening, an electric car charging and lobster traps sitting near the edge of a dock

David Dahl

David Dahl

Veteran journalist David Dahl serves as the editor of The Maine Monitor, overseeing its daily operations. David was most recently a deputy managing editor at the Boston Globe. Before joining the Globe, David worked for 20 years at the St. Petersburg Times. He was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University and a fellow at the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University. He has also been an adjunct professor of journalism at Emerson College, Boston College and Boston University. David and his wife, Kathy, enjoy tennis and kayaking at their home in Friendship. They have two adult children.


RECENT ARTICLES