Libby Mitchell will challenge other Dems for Blaine House

Senate President Libby Mitchell filed yesterday to run for Governor. The South Carolina born, Vassalboro senator will join 5 other Democrats and 15 contenders overall. Senator Mitchell has released a statement on her run, which has been provided in full below. Continue reading

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Dawn Hill hits Twitter

Dawn Hill is finally on twitter. 20 following, 23 followers, and 1 update. Website up too.

Is it just me, or is Election Mall doing a lot of work here in Maine this season?

The Bolt to the Blaine House ’10 – Dawn Hill (D)

Well, it was only a matter of time before Democrat Steve Rowe had some competition for the gubernatorial primary. Rep. Dawn Hill has stepped up to challenge the Dem favorite.

Dawn Hill serves district 149 (Part of York, Kittery, Wells, and all of Ogunquit). Rep Hill has served two terms in the House. While in Augusta, Hill has sponsored or co-sponsored 83 bills, orders, or resolutions. We’ll get into a few of those votes later. Having that legislative history can be a double edged sword for a politician. Dawn Hill can reference votes she has made and has political experience under her belt. She is an Augusta insider of sorts. Opponents can use Hill’s voting record as fodder. A yea or a nay on a key bill could ruin a campaign, depending on how her opponents spin it.

Let’s dissect Rep. Hill’s website. Now technically this is her House member website, but it seems to be serving some campaign purpose at this point. The site is informative with news, legislative updates, and a breakdown of her positions on education, environment, economy, healthcare, and consumer protection/animal rights. Considering some sites have already touted Hill’s challenger Steve Rowe as the Democratic front runner, Hill’s web site does little to show what she will bring to the table that Rowe can’t or wont. She says she is a “fiscal moderate and a social progressive.” I will not dispute those positions, but I will say that I don’t see how that is all that different from Steve Rowe’s stance.

Hill’s campaign is borrowing a page from President Obama’s play book. Is this page his deftly executed grassroots campaign? Or maybe his keen fundraising machine? No. Hill is choosing to ride the Change Train.

from Seacoast Online:

“All of the rules have been broken,” she said. “Look at Barack Obama. If everyone followed the people who think traditionally, he would not be there. People are looking for change. Coming up the standard ladder is not expected by the populace anymore. Party officials think that way, but the people ask, ‘Who can do the best job?'”

I may try to avoid painting myself as some rebel outsider in the political game when I clearly wasn’t. Hill would not be the first legislature who practiced law for ten years to run for governor, nor would she be in exclusive company. I one of the other candidates, who actually does come from outside this typical background, does not jump on Hill’s statement I will be surprised.

Obama did not only win on “Change”. He had a tide behind him that wanted to push out all remnants of the Bush administration. Obama also had the charisma to make people believe in change. The public opinion is against the current Democratic governor. Though I have not heard Hill speak, I would question if she has the level of charisma that President Obama does. You cannot just copy and paste Obama’s 08 campaign and hope to win an election.

Hill is not ignorant of Maine’s problems. How to we attract more and better paying jobs, how do we keep young graduates in Maine, and at the same time preserve Maine’s character? Her solutions are vague. We need to reinvent and innovate. How? Mine the collective experience of business , agriculture, fishermen, retailers, and tourist industry successes? Yes, we do need to cull advice from all those involved. I’m going to need more than that from a self proclaimed “mover and a shaker” and an “independent thinker“.

Perhaps most disturbing is Hill’s use of Maine as a “brand”. In support of protecting the environment Hill refers to the natural beauty as a brand we must market. Our special memories of Maine are a brand. Even you, presuming you are a Mainer too, are part of that brand. See what I just did there. I took something that is a clear truth and turned it sour. Of course we want tourists to come visit the natural beauty of Maine. That’s a big part of our economy. We sell that “brand” just like Tim Allen is hawking Michigan or Missouri markets Branson as a squeaky clean Las Vegas. Words are so important in politics. How something is said can make or break a candidate. Will voters warm up to the idea of being a brand? Will those who battled against Plumb Creek, Poland Spring, and Wal-Mart buy into that phrase. Even if, economically speaking, it is something we sell?

Hill is not devoid of concrete ideas on improving Maine. Hill sponsored a bill to protect Maine’s shoreline bodies of water and forests in LD-340. Hill also supported low-interest loans for geothermal heating, swifter approvals for wind turbines, and efforts to reduce carbon emissions. This stance could swipe votes from Lynne Williams should Hill win the nomination. It also helps preserve that brand.

When it comes to education Hill is hardly innovative. Hill did vote against the school administrative consolidation, which is sure to sway some votes. During the legislative life of the bill, Hill fought for greater flexibility in the consolidation and fair economic burdens on each town. Hill did vote against the recent charter school bill LD 1438. The rejection of the cutting-edge virtual charter schools in such a rural state is nearly unforgivable. It’s a disappointing blow to the state, especially when we are struggling to prove we can be an innovator and a leader.

A peak at Project Vote does show some of Rep Hill’s strengths. Hill received an 80 out of 100 from the Maine League of Conservation Voters. The Maine AFL-CIO gave hill a 100 in support of labor. Hill scored high in civil rights (75) from the Maine People’s Alliance. Hill voted for LD 1020 the same sex marriage bill, giving us the only clear gay marriage stance from a candidate. Hill did not fair so well when it comes to business however. Hill scored 25 out of 100 from the Maine National Federation of Independent Business. That is a poor rating considering Hill is a small business owner.

You might think from my harsh treatment of Hill I think she has no chance against Rowe. That’s not true. She has the voting record to promote her cause in some cases. From her writing, it’s clear that her heart is in the right place. Hill understands what is wrong in the state and broadly what it needs to get there. Can she connect with voters statewide and give them some concrete examples of how she will improve the state? More importantly, can Dawn Hill convince voters she is a superior choice to Steve Rowe? Don’t underestimate Rep. Hill. If Hill can get her ducks in line she could mean trouble for Rowe. Hill has plenty of time to get her game plan together. Then again so does Rowe.

The Bolt to the Blaine House ’10 – Steve Rowe (D)

I’ve already detailed the early campaigns of Bruce Poliquin (R), and Lynne Williams (G). Today former Maine Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor Steve Rowe steps up to bat.

Rowe, like the other candidates, has embraced the need for social networking. Frankly, any candidate who does will never get elected. Rowe tweets, facebooks, and blogs. There isn’t much to look at yet. Rowe’s twitter and facebook basically direct you to his blog, well welcome message really. It’s early still though, so I’ll let it slide. It doesn’t make my job easy though Mr. Rowe.

Rowe’s message is not all that different from what I read on Bruce Poliquin’s site. Improving education, keeping graduates in Maine, creating jobs, lowering healthcare costs, pursuing alternative energy, and helping improve conditions for all Maine families are all on Rowe’s plate. Little has been said about how Rowe seeks to accomplish those goals as governor. I’m sure the differences between Rowe and Poliquin will become evident when Rowe’s methods are presented. Williams, however does present a distinct differences between the goals and methods of the other two. It may be too radical for most voters though.

Rowe has not won any points with conservative Christians. You may remember the contraception fiasco at Portland’s King Middle School in 2007. Rowe’s wife, Amanda Rowe, had been Portland’s school nurse coordinator and Rowe Attorney General at the time. The Christian Civil League were concerned that Amanda Rowe knew children from King Middle under the age of 14 were having sex, a crime in Maine. “By her own public admission, Amanda Rowe knows of a number of pregnancies in Portland’s middle schools,” said the League’s Administrator Mike Hein. Rowe made no statement on the contraception, or legal case filed by the CCL. Many reasoned that Steve Rowe could not have claimed ignorance on the issue. This could cost Rowe some social moderate votes. The majority of those who would object to his silence while AG wouldn’t have voted for him anyway.

If Baldacci is still unpopular when campaigning gets into full swing that could hurt Rowe and any other Democratic runners. Baldacci’s approval rating went from 72% near the beginning of his first term to 42% as of last October. Challengers could incorporate a bit of Obama’s “Change” mantra against the Democrats. Rowe could still distance himself from Governor Baldacci and propose a little change of his own. Without a doubt, Rowe will be there to put up on Hell of a strong challenge.

Is This Stimulus for Us? – Economic stimulus or government stimulus

I am an advocate for sensible stimulus spending. Spending that creates jobs, repairs our failing infrastructure, and reduces our dependence of foreign oil is fine. You’ve got to spend money to make money. For those who’ve had the time, and lack of sanity, to pour over the 700 page American Recovery and Investment Act there are big concerns over how much of this money is going into the government. Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal is one of those concerned citizens.

from Wall Street Journal:

Check your PC’s virus program, then pull down the nearly 700 pages of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Dive into its dank waters and what is most striking is how much “stimulus” money is being spent on the government’s own infrastructure. This bill isn’t economic stimulus. It’s self-stimulus.

(All sums here include the disorienting zeros, as in the bill.)

Title VI, Financial Services and General Government, says that “not less than $6,000,000,000 shall be used for construction, repair, and alteration of Federal buildings.” There’s enough money there to name a building after every Member of Congress.

The Bureau of Land Management gets $325,000,000 to spend fixing federal land, including “trail repair” and “remediation of abandoned mines or well sites,” no doubt left over from the 19th-century land rush.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are getting $462,000,000 for “equipment, construction, and renovation of facilities, including necessary repairs and improvements to leased laboratories.”

The National Institute of Standards gets $357,000,000 for the “construction of research facilities.” The Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gets $427,000,000 for that. The country is in an economic meltdown and the federal government is redecorating.

The FBI gets $75,000,000 for “salaries and expenses.” Inside the $6,200,000,000 Weatherization Assistance Program one finds “expenses” of $500,000,000. How many bureaucrats does it take to “expense” a half-billion dollars?

The current, Senate-amended version now lists “an additional amount to be deposited in the Federal Buildings Fund, $9,048,000,000.” Of this, “not less than $6,000,000,000 shall be available for measures necessary to convert GSA facilities to High-Performance Green Buildings.” High performance?

Sen. Tom Coburn is threatening to read the bill on the floor of the Senate. I have a better idea: Read it on “Saturday Night Live.”

Such as the amendment to Section 2(3)(F) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which will permit payments to guys employed to repair “recreational vessels.” Under Incentives for New Jobs, we find a credit to employ what the bill calls “disconnected youths,” defined as “not readily employable by reason of lacking a sufficient number of basic skills.”

President Obama is saying the bill will “create or save” three million new jobs. The bad news is your new boss is Uncle Sam.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says, “Everybody agrees that there ought to be a stimulus package. The question is: How big and what do we spend it on?”

Sen. McConnell should reconsider. He knows that the Bush-GOP spending spree cost them control of Congress in 2006. Thus, “How big?” is not the question his party’s constituents (or horrified independents) want answered. This is a chance for the GOP to climb down from its big-government dunce chair. Until that reversal is achieved, there is no hope for this party.

I think that behind the bill’s sinking public support is the sense that it won’t work and its cost is dangerous. The bill’s design, an embarrassment to Rube Goldberg, is flawed. Even were one to grant the Keynesians their argument, this is a very mushy, weak-form stimulus.

Rather than try to “reform” it, which won’t happen, Sen. McConnell should ask President Obama to pull it and start over. One guesses that privately the president’s economic team would thank the senator. If he won’t pull it, the Senate Republicans should walk away from it. This bill is a bomb. It may wreck more than it saves.

This could go a few ways for the Republicans if they return to their smaller-the-government-the-better roots. If the stimulus should succeed without Republican intervention they will look like out of touch ideologues. Or the stimulus fails without Repubs help. They say I told you so, the people say that’s nice but why didn’t you do anything about it earlier. Those two scenarios aren’t likely. There are Republicans who are keen to do more than partisan posturing and are working hard on cutting the fat from the stimulus bill already.

If they Republicans can work with the Democrats to get this bill trimmed down to be most effective for the crisis they will be in prime shape. Faith will be restored that Repubs have left the big spending ways of George W. behind. I disagree with Henninger that this bill can’t be saved. Republican reform, or financial conservative reform rather, is just what we need to difuse this “bomb”

Long Division Takes Its Time – Getting the stimulus right.

David Broder of the Washington Post wrote today urging time be taken to get the best stimulus package we can get. The Dems have the power to push through whatever they want, but should they? Should Obama be more Reagan or Clinton? Read the article and see for yourself.

Take Time to Get the Stimulus Right

By David Broder

WASHINGTON — When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced in early January that there would be no mid-February recess for Congress unless the giant economic stimulus bill demanded by Barack Obama were on its way to the White House, she accomplished two things.

On the positive side, she clearly signaled to Republicans that delaying tactics could cost them vacations and campaign time in their home districts. But conversely, her hard line was a tacit green light to her fellow Democrats to ram the staggeringly expensive piece of legislation through, whatever objections the GOP raised.

Last week the $819 billion tax and spending bill passed the House with all but 11 Democrats supporting it and not a single Republican voting yes. The first important roll call of the Obama presidency looked as bitterly partisan as any of the Bush years.

It was not for lack of effort on the part of the new president. Obama went to the Capitol to visit Republican as well as Democratic lawmakers, and even encouraged the Democratic draftsmen to scrap a couple of egregiously irrelevant spending programs they had penciled into the bill.

But the complaint I heard from Republicans was that Pelosi and her lieutenants, committee chairmen Charlie Rangel and David Obey, had used the tight timetable and their control of legislative procedures to block virtually all efforts to open the bill to compromise.

In the floor debate, Rangel and Obey rebutted the claim effectively, I thought. Nonetheless, there are compelling reasons, both substantive and political, to hope that the Senate consideration of the bill, which begins this week, is far more open, even if that means spending more time than Obama and the Democrats would prefer.

This bill, so much larger than ordinary legislation, even the wartime defense appropriations, is almost certain to be the biggest if not the last weapon the government employs to halt the sickening economic slide that has gripped the country in the past five months. So much is uncertain, and so much is riding on it, that it’s worth taking time to try to get it right.

Professional economists from both the right and left have raised questions that are anything but frivolous about its design. Martin Feldstein, a top Reagan adviser, has questioned the efficacy of the current menu of tax cuts and spending proposals to generate consumer demand and produce jobs. Alice Rivlin, who played a similar role for Bill Clinton, has called for a sharper focus on short-term job growth as distinguished from slow-acting steps for energy independence or health care quality. Even the Congressional Budget Office has challenged how quickly this massive infusion of dollars will be felt in family budgets and the marketplace.

Beyond these policy challenges, there are political considerations that make it really important for Obama to take the time to negotiate for more than token Republican support in the Senate.

Nothing was more central to his victory last fall than his claim that he could break the partisan gridlock in Washington. He wants to be like Ronald Reagan, steering his first economic measures through a Democratic House in 1981, not Bill Clinton, passing his first budget in 1993 without a single Republican vote.

The first way leads to long-term success; the second foretells the early loss of control.

This vote will set a pattern for Obama, one way or the other. He needs a bipartisan majority because, tough as this issue is, harder ones await when he turns to energy, health care and entitlement reform.

The good news is that Obama can find such support in the Senate, if his allies are smart in the way they handle the bill and allow the Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander, Chuck Grassley and John McCain, to have a real voice in reshaping it. And then the dozen or so House Republicans who wanted to vote yes before the process turned ugly will finally be able to do so, when the bill comes back to the House.

What Obama can’t allow is for Majority Leader Harry Reid to become impatient and force a showdown or pull the bill off the floor, as Reid did with immigration reform in the last Congress. So much is riding on this — both substantively and politically — it’s worth taking the time to do it right.

It would be devastating for Obama and the country to push this stimulus through as fast as possible. Bullying the Republicans to pass anything the Dems want will not get us through this. Nor will the Repubs bucking everything Obama sends their way just on the basis of ideology. It seems like I am reading a lot on taking the stimulus slow and steady. Is our government listening?

Blogs for Lunch – Stimulus Opinion, Conservative Keynesians, Red States, Obama or Rush

Purple Center: Stimulus plan short on stimulus

The Moderate Voice: We’re all Keynesians down here

Donklephant: The Red State shuffle

Balloon Juice: Dumb cat, smart cat

I think it goes without saying, but the opinions found at these blogs do not necessarily reflect those of The Maine View.