Maine GOP proposes moving its 2nd District candidates out of the district -- for now

·4 min read

Sep. 17—Good morning from Augusta.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "They are quite harmless," said Jeremy Bullock, the president of the Maine Herpetological Society, on baby snakes active in Maine right now. "If you want to pick one up, you can and if you found it under a rock you moved, place it back gently because it has worked hard to find that place." Here's your soundtrack.

What we're watching today

The former congressman and his primary challenger would be moved out of the 2nd District — at least temporarily — under their party's plan. Democrats and Republicans released their long-awaited congressional and Maine Senate redistricting proposals on Thursday. More analysis is coming, but the big fight over moving 23,000 people into the swing 2nd Congressional District is going to focus on Democrats' plan to move Waterville in. That is a red line for Republicans, who submitted a more restrained proposal for the district.

That overshadowed a wrinkle in the Republican plan — shifting Oakland from the 2nd District to the solidly liberal 1st District. The town of 6,200 is notable as the place former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, the Republican gunning for a 2022 rematch with Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, ran from during his tenure. Poliquin's primary challenger, state Rep. Mike Perkins, also lives there.

Members of Congress do not have to live in their district, only the state they are representing. But Poliquin, who won the seat in 2014 before Golden beat him four years later, faced controversy over his residence in his first run. He owns a waterfront mansion in the 1st District town of Georgetown on a property assessed at $3.4 million last year. He grew up in Waterville and switched his residence to a family home in Oakland when he ran for Congress.

He sold that home in 2018 but said he inked a rental agreement to keep an apartment there throughout his time in office. Poliquin's political strategist, Brent Littlefield, did not answer a question about where his residence is now. But an updated campaign filing this week listed Poliquin's address as a P.O. Box in Oakland, even though his campaign is now based in Bangor in a change from his earlier runs.

Poliquin's primary opponent brushed off the plan, which was likely coordinated with the former congressman. Perkins, whose campaign has raised little money in an underdog challenge to the former congressman, laughed when asked about the potential change, saying he thought courts would ultimately decide the redistricting plan. He felt voters would still support him even if the district moved, noting Poliquin's Georgetown home.

"I haven't moved, they moved the district on me," he said.

Republicans have plenty of reasons to dangle Oakland. They could be trying to negotiate Waterville out of the ultimate deal or insulating Poliquin from the challenge. But it was party insiders who developed the plan and it's virtually impossible that he did not assent to it.

The Maine politics top 3

— "State prison officials to announce leadership shakeup over troubled youth prison," Callie Ferguson, Bangor Daily News: "There have been multiple violent incidents since Aug. 2nd that have led toward investigations by the [attorney general's] office, potential criminal investigations and people stepping down or being moved," said Rep. William Pluecker, I-Warren, summarizing what Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty told lawmakers.

The response at the troubled Long Creek Youth Development Center came after advocates cited 'urgent safety concerns' there. A letter sent early this month by Disability Rights Maine to the state, which was first reported by the BDN last week, said guards continue to use dangerous "prone restraints" — or holding someone in a belly-down position in a way that increases risk of serious injury. In August alone, guards used these restraints six times in an hour, the advocacy group said. A 2017 report said low staffing and high population are creating "dangerous and harmful conditions" and led to calls to close the prison. Gov. Janet Mills vetoed a bill to do so this year, but her administration is also taking steps to make it obsolete.

— "Portland bar owner trying to reopen slapped with $18,000 liquor license application fee," Troy R. Bennett, BDN: "It all comes down to Portland's amusement permit fees. To get a liquor license, bar owners must pay $153 per amusement — which includes things like pool tables, pinball machines and even 40-year-old video games."

— "Unemployed Mainers cite skills mismatches, COVID-19 concerns as top job barriers," Lori Valigra, BDN: "The July survey of more than 2,600 unemployment insurance claimants and active job seekers found that 34 percent cited job and skill mismatches and 31 percent cited COVID-19 concerns. Job quality concerns also were among the top complaints, with 29 percent citing insufficient wages. Another 15 percent cited lack of child care."

Today's Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Michael Shepherd. If you're reading this on the BDN's website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting