Political news

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

With the filing deadline of June 1, it’s not clear whether a record number of Maine independents will qualify to seek office this year. But many of them feel they have an advantage, even though they have to work harder to get elected.

By their very nature, independents are a diverse group ranging in philosophy from more conservative to strongly progressive. And they face several obstacles in getting elected over party nominees.

(ExplainMaine: Why is Maine so Politically Independent?)

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told a meeting of the Senate Health Committee Tuesday that more needs to be done to encourage health professionals to specialize in caring for seniors.

“Within the next two years, our seniors will outnumber our children,” she says.

Collins says the rest of the country will reach that milestone by 2035.

Maine's Department of the Secretary of State

A federal judge will hear arguments Wednesday in yet another case involving Maine’s landmark ranked-choice voting law.

Independent candidates for governor, Congress and the Legislature were at the State House in Augusta Monday to compare notes on running as independents.

Several candidates pointed out that while they are all unenrolled, they don’t all agree on issues. But state Rep. Kent Ackley of Monmouth, who is seeking re-election, says they do share an overarching belief.

“One of the things the independents all agree on is that we should keep talking. And that is what is missing from Augusta,” he says.

Democrats and Republicans who have led the Justice Department's criminal division are writing to Congress to push for a vote on the Trump administration's nominee for the post.

The five former government officials are urging senators to advance the nomination of Brian Benczkowski, whom they praise for his "professional experience, temperament and integrity." The officials said Benczkowski respects the Justice Department and "will work hard to protect the independence and integrity of this important institution."

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

The seven Democratic candidates vying to replace Gov. Paul LePage next year made their case Saturday to the party faithful during a heavily attended Democratic state convention.

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

Maine Democrats are in Lewiston this weekend for a state convention that the party hopes will energize activists for the upcoming elections. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a finding that Russia did try to influence the 2016 elections in support of Donald Trump. Both Maine senators, who serve on that committee, expect the threat of interference to continue in future elections.

Both Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King say that they think the Russians will again attempt to influence elections this year.

Collins says she expects to see more false stories and websites aimed at increasing political tensions.

It's Thursday and time again for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on Maine politics.

This week, Cynthia Dill, an attorney and former Democratic state lawmaker, Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertizing and Marketing, who served in Augusta as a Republican, and Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the legislature as an independent spoke with Keith Shortall.

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House are expected to vote Thursday or Friday on the merits of this year's farm bill. The bill makes numerous changes to ongoing programs, including strengthening work requirements for people who receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

Republican Second District Representative Bruce Poliquin says the bill will also offer some exemptions for Maine families who currently receive those SNAP benefits.

The LePage administration says state lawmakers must appropriate funding before a voter-approved Medicaid expansion can be rolled out.

The court filing this week says the Legislature must act because a statewide referendum did not specify where the money to expand Medicaid would come from.

Groups that support the Medicaid expansion sued after the administration missed an April 3 deadline for an application to receive an additional $525 million in annual federal funding. The LePage administration contends the deadline doesn't commence until money is appropriated.

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

Eleven candidates are vying for the major party gubernatorial nominations. Four more are running for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. But those numbers have yet to lead to saturation broadcast advertising.

“Morning Edition” host Irwin Gratz talks with Sam Surprise of Surprise Advertising and Brenda Garrand, a founder of Garrand Mohlenkamp. Both have years of experience in crafting political advertising and devising ad strategies.

For disclosure, Brenda Garrand is a board member of Maine Public.

The director of the LePage administration's Office of Policy and Management has resigned, and all but one member of the office has been reassigned to other state agencies.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the LePage administration did not announce Jonathan LaBonte's April 10 departure. A spokesperson said the administration does not publicize every resignation.

Maine Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin is backing President Donald Trump's plan to cut $15 billion in federal spending on children's health insurance and other programs, saying the money would be "wasted" otherwise.

Close to half of the proposed cuts target the Children's Health Insurance Program, canceling $5.1 billion in funding that wasn't used and $1.9 billion in what operates as a 'rainy-day' fund for states.

Poliquin tells the Lewiston Sun Journal the cuts will not affect federal spending or enrollment in the program.