Thirteen Republicans in the Maine Senate recently filp-flopped to sustain Governor Paul LePage's (R) veto of a bill designed to help local farmers and fishermen. LD 1254 was sponsored by Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) and would have encouraged schools and state agencies to support local businesses by purchasing more food produced in Maine.
In a special election both parties described beforehand as a tossup, voters flocked to the polls yesterday in Maine's 19th Senate District to deliver another stern rebuke to right-wing Governor Paul LePage and his Republican allies in the legislature.
All day long, local elections officials described turnout as "huge" in the race to replace former Senator Seth Goodall (D), a race ultimately won by Democrat and Senator-Elect Eloise Vitelli. But as the Portland Press Herald explains, Republicans started out with a crucial advantage in this district: "In Vitelli, Democrats found a candidate with policy experience but little public profile next to [former Republican Senator Paula] Benoit, who won election to the seat in 2006 but lost to Goodall by 162 votes in 2008."
In the end, though, Gov. LePage - who "causes Maine national embarrassment," according to two-thirds of statewide voters - was unable to install another GOP ally through this special election, which "has been pitched as a bellwether for 2014." Voters can get rid of LePage next fall, but until then, they refused to send yet another LePage rubber stamp to the legislature. Congratulations to Senator Vitelli and Maine Senate Democrats for running an outstanding campaign.
Maine Republicans, like those in many other states, rabidly oppose expanding Medicaid under the President's Affordable Care Act. So a recent study by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation (and confirmed by the conservative Heritage Foundation), which found that "Maine would save $690 million over the next 10 years if the state expanded eligibility," is a serious political problem for them. It's so much of a problem, in fact, that "Republicans have since attempted to discredit the study" by claiming "that the study is based on every state participating in expansion... so the study, and the savings, are flawed."
What's "flawed" is the GOP logic in this case, as it is with most Republican objections to Medicaid expansion: As a Kaiser spokesperson points out, Texas rejecting Medicaid has no impact on the savings Maine would realize by accepting it. But if Maine Republicans are under the impression, at least, that obstructing implementation of Obamacare will increase the cost of health care (which, despite missing the mark in this instance, is true overall), then why are Maine Republicans obstructing implementation of Obamacare?
Fulfilling their commitment to help working families in Maine, Senate Democrats today pushed through legislation to “increase the minimum wage of $7.50 per hour by 50 cents.”