Cathy Breen of Falmouth (Finally) Wins Long-Contested Senate District 25 Race

Posted on December 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Was the dispute less about the Senate and more about back room shenanigans?

Chair Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) asks Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn a question during Tuesday's hearing. Also pictured (L-R) Senators Stan Gerzofsky, Garrett Mason, Bill Diamond, Dawn Hill, Andre Cushing and Tom Saviello.

Chair Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) asks Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn a question during Tuesday’s hearing. Also pictured (L-R) Senators Stan Gerzofsky, Garrett Mason, Bill Diamond, Dawn Hill, Andre Cushing and Tom Saviello.

Maine got a preview of what to expect in 2015 thanks to the now-resolved “Who won Senate District 25?” question last week. For a month, Mainers had speculated as to what occurred. It seemed impossible that 12% more ballots than actual participating voters materialized out of thin air; something funky had to have happened. But what? No one knew for sure, but everyone had an opinion.

A petition calling for officials to “investigate potential voter fraud” garnered 3200 signatures. Representative Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) took a sterner approach:

    “One of two things has to happen to put this matter to rest: the state attorney general or the U.S. Attorney should immediately conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation of the circumstances of this discrepancy, one that involves questioning all relevant witnesses under oath and forensic experts.”

Senate President Mike Thibodeau went against Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s recommendations by provisionally seating Manchester:

    “The fact of the matter is that we have had a recount and the results of that recount left Cathy Manchester as the apparent winner. Because some folks are not happy with that outcome, they’re throwing around some pretty wild accusations.”

Why the rush? Simply put, Republicans needed her vote later that same day on the Constitutional officers, as they were within one vote of replacing Attorney General Janet T. Mills. Seating Manchester gave one more vote to their surprise candidate, Bill Logan, the GOP recount attorney.

Got that? Manchester was quickly shoved into office so she could vote for her own lawyer. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Thibodeau eventually named a seven member Investigative Committee. Spoiler alert: Democrat Cathy Breen’s originally reported 32 vote lead held.

Tuesday’s public hearing was held in the packed Legislative Council chamber with only live audio feed available for those not in the room.

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn was the first witness. Sworn in before a room full of media, lawyers, candidates and election officials, armed with a 4″ binder full of documentation and 25 years of recount experience, she confidently gave detailed testimony for hours. Frankly, it was pretty dry stuff and with 30 people scheduled to speak after her, a quick resolution seemed unlikely.

To break it down, imagine the 171 ballots as a deck of cards, but divided into 3 piles of 50 with a leftover stack of 21. Take each stack individually and divide into 3 smaller groups: Breen, Manchester and Other (No Votes). Write down the results from that first group, rinse and repeat for the rest of the stacks, then add them up. Long Island officials tallied 95 Breen, 65 Manchester and 11 Other equaling 171 votes cast, but the Augusta recount team came up with 21 more for Manchester, totaling 192. The ballots had been bundled with tally sheets designated as “A1, A2, A3 and A4″.

One 50 ballot lot had a total of 21 votes for Manchester, catching the eye of former Secretary of State Senator Bill Diamond (D-Windham). He remarked to Flynn, “On A3… it just jumped out at me, because Manchester had 21 votes … is there any way… that number could be, could have been… is there anything unusual about that number?”

Flynn had no answer and appeared momentarily flustered. She did not answer and continued to discuss the next lot.

The committee decided next to examine the ballots and it was quickly surmised that Diamond’s instincts had been spot-on, as the first lot had only 29 ballots instead of 50. A second recount immediately confirmed the 21 A3 ballots had been added in twice.

Manchester addressed the senators to announce her intention to offer a formal letter of resignation to President Thibodeau and congratulated Senator-elect Breen on her win.

The governor issued a statement, “I thank Senate President Thibodeau for his integrity throughout this process, in which liberals falsely accused Republicans of trying to manipulate the election with so-called ‘phantom ballots’. President Thibodeau followed the proper procedure to ensure the electoral process was upheld while awaiting the final decision from the Senate committee. It is unfortunate that Cathy Manchester had to endure a situation that was created entirely by the Secretary of State’s office during the recount.”

As for Thibodeau, his only response was, “You can’t read my word balloon, man.”

The Senate will meet in January and will have to vote to seat Breen.

—–

(Published in the 12/18/14 edition of DigPortland)

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Louis Sigel Announces Senate District 14 Run

Posted on February 24, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Gardiner resident Louis Sigel has thrown his hat into the open SD 14 race. A reminder: The seat is currently held by Senator Pat Flood (R-Winthrop), who recently said he does not plan not to run for re-election; former State Senator Earle McCormack (R-West Gardiner) has decided to run for his old seat again. Former Hallowell Mayor David Bustin made his intentions to run for the Democratic slot known recently as well, setting up a primary race.

The candidate took to Facebook last week to make his announcement:

louis sigel

    I am running for the Maine State Senate District 14–Gardiner, West Gardiner, Chelsea, Randolph, Pittston, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Manchester, Winthrop, Readfield and Monmouth.

    I am running to assure future budgets always include full 5% revenue sharing and full 55% state aid to local education–it is definitely not ‘welfare for towns and cities’, but it is clearly spelled out in Maine law and yet it is ignored and cheated on!

    I want Medicaid expansion to provide health insurance for the 70,000 left out and with no options simply because their incomes are too law for the health insurance marketplaces–and that includes 3,000 veterans.

    As far as veterans are concerned, I want veterans’ pensions treated the same as Social Security and thus exempt from the state income tax; and I want the state Bureau of Veteran Services to adopt a commitment to coordinate federal, state, and local services, both public and private to end veteran homelessness in Maine.

    I want to fulfill and extend the Affordable Care Act in Maine with a Maine health insurance mandate, Maine-run health insurance marketplaces for individuals and for small businesses [preferably set up by the proven winners–Deloitte Consulting], adopting a Maryland-style hospital rate-setting board [so all Maine hospitals charge all patients the same for the same procedure]’ and abolishing the Certificate of Need procedure for investment in the healthcare sector.

    I want to extend and expand campaign finance reform in Maine to include referendum and People’s Veto campaigns and require corporations to poll their stockholders each and every time they want to make campaign contributions in Maine political campaigns.

    I want to promote tax reform based on Democratic principles of focusing on fairness, transparency and the ability to pay.

    I will actively oppose any efforts that restrict women’s reproductive rights, suppress or discourage voting, or weaken necessary environmental protections.

    So anyone interested in donating to my seed money to launch my campaign is very much appreciated–I can raise up to $1500 from any individuals who are US citizens with a $100 limit on contributions. My intention, of course is to run as a Clean Elections publicly-financed candidate!

He elaborated further:

    Why am I running? I am running because I have been active on the Democratic Platform Committee and want to see that the platform becomes policy through legislation–especially a compact between the state and the towns and cities.

    I would welcome any support for my candidacy for Maine State Senate District 14:
    Make it Legal with Sigel!

    I am attempting to run as a Clean Elections candidate, so at this point contributions up to $100 from any US citizen are welcome toward the ‘seed money’ total of $1500 maximum

    So any contributions to: Sigel for Senate 2014 are greatly appreciated.

    As I said previously ‘Make it Legal with Sigel’ means following the law by
    1) Full 5% revenue sharing
    2) Full 55% state aid to local education
    3) State assuming its responsibility for teacher pensions and not pushing any part on to local education budgets
    4) Medicaid expansion
    5) Reinvigoration and extension of the Maine Clean Elections system–restoring gubernatorial coverage and providing for additional funding
    and more
    and yes, of course, I fully support a sensible, Maine-based approach to marijuana and recognize that the current prohibition is a failure!

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Introducing New & Improved Maine State Senate Site!

Posted on October 3, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

mss

Long overdue and looks terrific- well done and kudos to the many talented people who took on this task. Direct link to site here; the page is also added to our “Gov’t/Politics” tab above.

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BREAKING: Troy Jackson Announces Maine 2nd Congressional District Run

Posted on July 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Here is the press release sent out this morning.

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Silly Season Continues in Augusta, As Fredette Mansplains and Hamper Croons Hotel California

Posted on June 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

UPDATED: Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough)’s “American Pie” speech had some jaws dropping in the House.

Some days, one only needs a camera and popcorn when reporting on the Legislature…

MPA captured this moment from the floor of the House, in which Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) explained in an especially sexist and misogynistic, out-dated and irrelevant way his objections to LD 1066, the Medicaid expansion bill, that later went viral:

    “As I listen to the debate today and earlier debate on this bill, I can’t help but think of a title of a book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. And it’s a book about the fact that men sort of think one way in their own brain, in their own world. And women think another way in their own brain and in their own world. And it really talks about the way that men and women can do a better job at communicating.

    Because if you listen to the debate today, in my mind — a man’s mind — I hear two fundamental issues. From the other side of the aisle, I hear the conversation being about: free. ‘This is free, we need to take it, and it’s free. And we need to do it now.’ And that’s the fundamental message that my brain receives. Now, my brain, being a man’s brain, sort of thinks differently, because I say, well, it’s not — if it’s free, is it really free? Because I say, in my brain, there’s a cost to this.”

MPA, who shared the above clip, had this response from organizer Jennie Pirkl:

    “This isn’t about women and men; it’s about life and death. Rep. Fredette would probably say that I only think this way because of my ‘woman’s brain’, but I find it incredibly distasteful for him to use offensive, gender-based stereotypes to advance his anti-health care agenda,” said Maine People’s Alliance Health Care Organizer Jennie Pirkl.

    “What’s more, he’s lying about the bill. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation admits that accepting federal health care funding will save the state $690 million over the next decade while providing health care coverage for 70,000 more Maine people.”

To say that Fredett’e choice in tone and language in delivering his floor speech got some national attention would be an understatement… Think Progress picked it up immediately and from there, well… Jezebel had a bunch of fun with it!

Democratic Underground was next… and then Rachel Maddow:

    For the record, Fredette, the leader of Maine Republicans in the state House, did not appear to be kidding.

    After having watched it a couple of times, I’m still not sure what this state lawmaker is trying to say. Does he believe women are confused by federal-state partnerships in providing health care benefits? Does he think men necessarily oppose Medicaid expansion because of their male brains? Fredette certainly seems to be under the impression that he — with his “man’s mind” — is better able to understand health care costs that women apparently can’t see.

    And if that is what Fredette believes, there may be something wrong with his brain.

    As for the politics of this, I’m beginning to wonder if some kind of secret memo went out to Republican policymakers, telling them to be as offensive as possible so that women vote Democratic in even larger numbers. Just consider the recent evidence.

    For what it’s worth, later in the day, Fredette apologized for his “inartful” remarks. His man’s brain apparently came to realize he’d made an embarrassing mistake.

Rep. Diane Rusell, wearing her  "FIGHT LIKE A GIRL" pin on her lapel.

Rep. Diane Rusell, wearing her “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL” pin on her lapel.

Then we have Slate. And Huffington Post. And Glamour.

Political Wire. National Memo.

This list goes on and on…

As Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) said, blasting Fredette’s remarks:

    “I thought it was 2013, not 1813. Apparently, I was wrong.”

Word to the wise: Do NOT click on the Jezebel link and read that while recording video live on the floor of the House, like I did- think I bit right through my lip, trying to keep quiet!

Onward to the Senate…

This has got to be one of the strangest moments I personally have witnessed, bar none, in the Senate. Not sure if Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) was denouncing Medicaid expansion or if he thought it was Karaoke Night!

Who would have thought that an Eagles song, released in 1976, was in actuality penned as a take-down argument against Medicaid expansion…

The quoted lyrics:

    “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
    Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
    Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
    My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
    I had to stop for the night”

    “There she stood in the doorway;
    I heard the mission bell
    And I was thinking to myself,
    “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”

    “Mirrors on the ceiling,
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”

    “And in the master’s chambers,
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives,
    But they just can’t kill the beast”

    “Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    “Relax, ” said the night man,
    “We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave! ”

Oh, to have one of the Democratic Senators stand and deliver the line: “You can’t hide your lying eyes”… or even better, this.

A reminder: Session supposedly ends this week. Stay tuned!

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