Welcome to the ninth edition of Swing Left Maine’s News Digest. Between now and the November, 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. It’s 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 Democratic Congressman Jared Golden.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the news and will likely continue to do so for some time. It will also certainly play a major role in this year’s elections.
Each issue of the News Digest digests 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 summary includes a link to the full story so you can read more. (Note that, depending on the source, you may need a subscription to view the full article.)
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!
• Politico Magazine is out with a major piece titled “The Women of Maine vs. Susan Collins,” which poses this question: has Susan Collins changed or have the voters? Collins, who once enjoyed the highest level of home-state support of any U.S. Senator, now boasts the lowest. Today, she is…derided for her increasingly lockstep party-line votes and for the often belabored manner in which she has justified herself,” says the piece. “She’s been lampooned by ‘Saturday Night Live’; The New Yorker recently satirized her for taking hours of deep reflection before deciding to order whatever Mitch McConnell is having for lunch.” (Politico Magazine, May 7, 2020.)
• Susan Collins has announced she will vote to confirm John Ratcliffe, a staunch Trump loyalist, as Director of National Intelligence. Last year, when Ratcliffe’s name was first floated for the post, his name was withdrawn following a storm of controversy over his lack of experience in intelligence matters and false statements on his official resume. Maine’s other Senator, Independent Angus King, who, like Collins, serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has questioned Ratcliffe’s ability to deliver unvarnished, honest intelligence to a president who famously does not want to hear information that contradicts his personal views. (The Hill, May 6, 2020.)
• The Maine Democratic Party will hold remote elections to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention scheduled for later this year in Milwaukee. It remains to be seen if the DNC will be held as scheduled amidst the coronavirus pandemic, or whether an alternate means of conducting the convention will be found. (News Center Maine, May 7, 2020.)
• Congressman Jared Golden, who represents Maine’s second congressional district, is seeking three changes to the Payroll Protection Program passed by Congress to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic. Golden wants the program to give small business more flexibility by (a) explaining how businesses qualify to have loans forgiven so they are not saddled with new debt, (b) relaxing the rule that requires 75% of loan amounts to be spent on payroll so borrowers can cover other expenses (“a logging business” says Golden as an example, is “very capital intensive…this program wouldn’t work for them under that particular rule,” and (c) giving borrowers more than eight weeks to spend the loan and more than 24 months to pay it back with interest if it is not forgiven. (WMTW/ABC News, Portland, May 7, 2020.)