Swing Left Maine: News Digest April 7, 2020
Welcome to the fourth edition of Swing Left Maine’s News Digest. Between now and the November election we will periodically offer concise summaries of news stories related to the state of play in Maine electoral politics, with special attention to the race for the United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Susan Collins. This marquee race will have consequences far beyond Maine and is being prioritized by both the Republican and Democratic parties because control of the U.S. Senate could well be decided by Maine voters. We will also be keeping an eye on how the presidential contest is playing out in Maine, and on the two congressional races, especially the competitive second congressional district currently represented by freshman Congressman Jared Golden.
Of course there’s only one issue dominating everyone’s lives and the news right now: the rapidly growing coronavirus crisis, and we’ll be sharing some of the headlines from Maine, though they will be familiar to you whether you live in Maine or elsewhere. The 2020 election season is sure to be unlike any we have ever lived through.
In each issue of this News Digest, to be distributed by email, we will digest news stories, mostly from the Maine press but occasionally from the national media, that we think will be of interest to those working to help Maine swing left. Each story summary will include a link to the full story so you can easily read more about those that interest you. (Note that you may need a subscription to view the full article depending on the source.)
If we miss a story (we can’t read everything, after all!) that you think should be shared, please email either Tom Redburn at email@example.com or Peter Zheutlin at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. Thanks!
• Maine’s primary election is likely to be pushed back a month, to mid-July, as Governor Mills works with the Secretary of State and Maine’s political parties to ensure that all Maine voters can safely cast their vote amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. (Portland Press Herald, April 7, 2020)
• As popular vacation destinations, many Maine communities are facing a dilemma: how to respond to an influx of second-home owners and others seeking to flee densely populated urban areas during the pandemic. It’s a story being played out throughout the nation from the Oregon coast, to the Berkshires and Nantucket, and to tiny North Haven, Maine which voted to ban all non-residents, even property owners. A major concern: little to no health care infrastructure to address an outbreak. (Politico, March 28, 2020) This has led to calls by many southern Maine communities that out-of-state visitors self-quarantine for fourteen days after their arrival. (Portland Press Herald, April 2, 2020)
• In an interview with The Bangor Daily News, Senator Susan Collins pronounced herself largely satisfied with President Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis, despite the fact that three months passed between the time he was first briefed that the pandemic could hit the United States and the time he finally took the threat seriously. During those months he derided the threat as a “Democratic hoax,” assured the nation that fifteen known cases would soon be zero (they have now surpassed a quarter of a million with no end in sight), and said that come April the virus would magically disappear. The United States now has more cases of COVID-19 than any other country in the world, testing for the virus lags that in many other advanced nations, and ten million new unemployment applications were filed in the past two weeks. But Senator Collins is largely satisfied. (Bangor Daily News, April 3, 2020)
• Maine Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree have sharply criticized President Trump’s refusal to open enrollment for Obamacare, a move that would have helped those who have suddenly lost their jobs and health-insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (The Maine Beacon, April 2, 2020)
• In a Free Press guest column by Leslie Poole of Rockland, the author takes a critical look at Susan Collins’s identification as a moderate with a detailed review of the ultra-conservative federal judges she has voted to confirm in the Trump years. (The Free Press, March 24, 2020)
• Nigel Calder of Newcastle, in another Free Press guest column, writes, “For three years the Republican Senate, including our own Susan Collins with barely a whimper of protest, has been complicit in a dismantling of the normal checks and balances in our political system. An unconstrained presidency has driven the national bus into a wall.”