Otten is in

It’s now official. As of this morning (Monday) Maine Energy Systems CEO, former American Ski Co. CEO, and part Red Sox owner Les Otten has announced he will challenge Bruce Poliquin and Matt Jacobson for the Republican nomination to run for governor.

My profile of Otten will be coming in a few days. In the meantime that lovely curmudgeon Al Diamon weighs in on Otten’s campaign, as well as Dawn Hill, Eliot Cutler, Rosa Scarelli

What’s happening Wednesday?

The price of gas in Maine is going up. The gas tax is rising from 28.4 cents per gallon to 29.6 cents. I was just saying the other day that $2.79 is far too little to pay for gasoline. Why someone ought to increase the cost!

The summer tourists are just going to love this.

November is still months away…

But here are your state ballot referendums. There are some hot items to make this off year interesting.

Proposed Ballot Questions

An Act to Decrease the Automobile Excise Tax and Promote Energy
(Legislation HTML version; Legislation PDF version)

“Do you want to cut the rate of the excise tax on newer vehicles that owners pay to towns by about half and exempt some energy-efficient vehicles from the sales tax?”

An Act to Establish the Maine Medical Marijuana Act
(Legislation HTML version; Legislation PDF version)

“Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to expand the methods of distribution?”

An Act to Promote Tax Relief
(Legislation HTML version; Legislation PDF version)

“Do you want to change Maine law to require voter approval for state and local tax and spending increases over certain limits?”

An Act to Repeal the School District Consolidation Laws
(Legislation HTML version; Legislation PDF version)

“Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect?”

Maine is one of thirteen states already allowing marijuana to be prescribed for medicinal purposes. Maine first allowed medical marijuana in 1999 (the bill garnered 62% of the vote). In 2002 the amount a patient could possess increased from 1 1/4 ounces to 2 1/2 ounces. I think as long as the state maintains control of distribution and what marijuana can be prescribed for doesn’t become ridiculous this question will pass.

Tax relief is a popular topic for Mainers. Our taxes are high, there are no two ways around it. When you consider the average income in the state things look even worse. Voters rejected the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, in 2006 54% to 46%. Will voters buy it this time, or is the tax relief formula still not right?

School district consolidation has been a heated issue as of late. Dozens of districts and towns have refused to consolidate. Most of the opposition has come from small towns fearing an unfair tax burden will be levied on them because of merger into larger districts. While the consolidation measure will save the state and districts money, unless a provision to protect smaller towns from carrying an proportionals tax load I think we could see consolidation defeated.

If you have comments to make on any proposed question contact the Maine Secretary of State by email, regular post – Attn: Public Comment, 148 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0148, or in person at the Secretary of State’s office. You’ve got until July, 27th to comment. This is your chance. Make your voice heard.

A Maine Elephant Forgets

Times are tough for Republicans all over the nation. Election losses, scandals, and infighting have rocked the GOP. The GOP’s rusty battleship has been hit by torpedoes. All most can do is argue if the gaping holes in the hull are actually there or not, while there is a shiny new fleet waiting for them.

Maine republicans don’t have much to cheer about either. Despite Sen. Susan Collin’s reelection and Gov. John Baldachi’s continuing low approval rating, Maine Democrats control 64% (96 seats) of the house and 57% of the senate (20 seats). Maine Dems have also seized upon one of the Republican’s best vote grabbers, fiscal conservatism, in their new tax reforms. (Update: Now that tax reform is getting hit from the Greens and GOP, plus facing People’s Veto, that move could backfire on Dems) What’s a Maine Republican to do? According to DeAnne Rogan the answer is to get more conservative.

from Bangor Daily News:

As an active member of the Maine Republican Party I can no longer keep silent. Over the past years, I have watched the party spiral downward at an alarming rate. While some may say we are becoming more “inclusive” I see it as a tragic departure from our core values which will cost us greatly.

When we focus on financial issues and getting Republicans elected no matter what they believe we are doing a disservice to our party platform and the thousands of Maine conservative voters. Moral issues such as abortion and homosexual marriage have been brought into government by those of a more liberal agenda and we cannot shrink from taking a stand for righteousness.

Ms. Rogan illustrates how short the memory of the voter is. Tragically short. The shrinking tent of the GOP is what cost the White House and many senate and house seats. There will always be those with extreme views in each party, but neither Democrats nor Republicans can hope to maintain relevance if they ignore the tide of popular support. The Democrats are working hard to increase the size of their tent and younger voters with a different set of values are rising to voting age. Republicans cannot afford to appear like a crotchety old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

These “core values” that Ms. Rogan speaks of are not as old as she make think. In a Faustian deal with the religious right, Republicans traded their core values for wedge issues. When the Repubs. sought to pad the ballot box with votes from the religious right they were forced to put many good tenants second. Conservative big wigs like Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, or even Ronald Reagan would have a hard time living up to some GOP standards.

Ms. Rogan goes on to quote the traveling chronicler of the then new American Republic Alex DeTocueville.

from Bangor Daily News:

In 1830, Alexis DeTocqueville said, “I sought the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors, in her fertile fields, in her boundless forests, in her vast world commerce, in her public systems of education and higher learning. I sought for it in her democratic congress and her matchless Constitution.

“But it was not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness that I understood the secret of her genius and of her power. America is great because America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, then she will also cease to be great.”

Ms. Rogan is misinterpreting DeTocqueville’s quote. Ms. Rogan is judging the movement that DeTocqueville witnessed, the Second Great Awakening, by modern standards. First, churches during that time period were gathering places. In fact in most communities they were the only places for neighbors from miles around to meet. Naturally, having no other outlet, churches often became centers for news and political discussion.

The religious movement of the Second Great Awakening was vastly different from the majority of it’s modern day equivalents. While much of the current evangelical movement is conservative in nature, the evangelicals of the Second Great Awakening were progressive in nature. They believed it was God’s plan that they reform the world they lived in. Many religious charities aiding the poor, widowed, and orphaned began in this period. Progressive civil rights reforms were also started during the Second Great Awakening. Political movements for prison reform, women’s rights, and abolition were thrust onto the national scene by religious groups of the time.

Ms. Rogan is right to quote DeTocqueville as being a lover of America and American Democracy. DeTocqueville saw an America continuing to evolve. The Second Great Awakening was the religious catalyst for that evolution. Where Ms. Rogan is mistaken is the nature of that religious movement. It was not conservative, as she may believe, nor was it exclusive. The movement was decidedly inclusive and progressive.

I’ll end with two quotes, one from the great conservative thinker Edmund Burke and another from the philosopher George Santayana.

“I take toleration to be a part of religion. I do not know which I would sacrifice; I would keep them both: it is not necessary that I should sacrifice either.” Burke

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Santayana

Update: Here are some interesting comments from the Bangor Daily News on Ms. Rogan’s letter. This is just a small sampling of what the Maine Republican’s are going through. I think it is indicative of the state of the party on the national level as well. I welcome all and any opinions here as well.

from Bangor Daily News:

EJ Parsons – DeAnne Rogan – Your letter filled me with a renewed confidence that there are still some real conservative Republicans in Maine. Don’t let the opposition bully you into backing down. The party needs people like you to replace the RINOs that plague the party.

chersully2000 – I agree. Ms Rogan may not be impressed with “inclusivity” as she states, but her words sound very out of touch with some realities. In order to be more viable in the future, it is just undeniable that the Republican Party has to attract a lot more young people, Hispanics, among other segments of the population. I am a Democrat, but grew up in a Republican household. It is just not that difficult to see certain things, not just what one wants to see. To a certain extent, you have to work with some of the realities at hand (i.e. trends in population growth among certain groups,etc.) No one is saying that they have to change their core principles or philosophy,etc.

Ms Rogan. You can live with your head in the sand but, if so, you may very well continue to be disappointed with the outcome.

forHIMtoday – Seacoast, democrats have their gods, namely themselves. I as a conservative Christian republican would rather stand or fall on the principles of my God, than bow down and sell my soul for no other reason than to “fill my tent”.

Matt 4:8 -10Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;

and he said to Him, All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'”

What this country needs are men and women with some backbone, willing to do whats right in Gods eyes. Let the cards fall where they may.

markrc – DeAnne Rogan: So just what were the great social issues of DeTocqueville’s time? What % of the U.S. population was Hispanic? Was the U.S. actively marching around the world and spreading democracy as a red herring while REALLY looking for more oil? What about pro-life or pro-choice issues . . .under “Dubbya’s” administration, he would speak passionately about pro-life and yet DID NOTHING to stop the genocide in Darfur . . .now there is a REAL disconnect for ya!

The GOP has NO credibility any longer as there only political position seems to be to just oppose ANYTHING that comes from the Obama administration. The GOP has no voice, no spokesperson that can effectively communicate with our HIspanic population. The GOP has no credible person, or policy to address the nations gay and lesbian community. Many of the GOP’s potential frontrunners for the GOP presidential candidates for 2012 cannot keep their pants on or zippers closed and are running around on their wives and or banging staff members or delegates from other countries! But the GOP does have Sarah Palin! OMG, please spare us from that intellectual light-weight!

The GOP is still seen as exclusionary and not inclusive . . .still seen as the party of rich white guys . . .still seen as the party that says that poor people are that way because they chose to be poor!

If you and the GOP can fix / repair just some of the above issues, the GOP might once again be taken seriously. Until then, be prepared for SEVERAL decades of getting your butt kicked in elections at all levels!

Michael Jackson Dies

Wow. Michael Jackson has died of cardiac arrest! Unbelievable. Mr. Jackson collapsed at his home. Full story at the NY Times. Really, wow!

Matt Jacobson a phenominal candidate says Next Right

In a piece on Gov. Baladachi’s tax reform plan, the Republican blog The Next Right’s wanders away from policy talk and into the 2010 gubernatorial election. The Next Right believes that Matt Jacobson is the candidate to beat in the primary and election.

Jacobson, claims The Next Right, is in prime position to monopolize on his business stance. In these economic hard times a candidate with the nick-name the “human jobs machine” will be difficult to beat.

from The Next Right:

Rather than the tired, poor choices presented to Maine voters in the 2006 election, there is actually an impressive crop of Republicans running for Governor in 2010 – cheif among them is Matt Jacobson, President and CEO of Maine & Company, an organization aimed at bringing businesses to Maine.

Jacobson has been carving out a decidedly pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs economic agenda for his candidacy, and it is already starting to resonate. Indeed, Jacobson has been described as a “human jobs machine”, as his position is literally devoted to doing just that – creating jobs. In this environment, that type of economic message can quickly light on fire.

Since we are struggling to bring new business to the state and diversify our industry, Mainers can surely get behind a message like this. We need to stop the bleeding from the fading paper, fishing, and logging industries here in Maine. Mainers are going to vote pro-business this election, that is almost a given. Jacobson’s reputation in the business world does give him a bit of a leg up. Jacobson is already pushing this point his site. However, most candidates have been quick to realize that jobs will be the number one issue in the next election. The ones who can hammer home that they have the best solutions to Maine’s economic woes will likely be packing for Augusta.