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Tuesday, May 18th, 2010, 11:12 am

On lawn signs and voter ID


After the much talked about polling results from Critical Insight showed that Les Otten enjoys twice the voter recognition, or voter ID, of the next most known candidate, Peter Mills, I started thinking about lawn signs.

Lawn signs are distributed by campaigns to supporters who are expected to post them at their homes and in public places. My friend Gabi, who has worked on political campaigns for as longs as I can remember, would have you know that lawn signs win elections. They are also a key factor in voter ID. (Remember, voter ID isn’t the ability of the voter to tell you anything about a candidate. They just need to know the name).

I live in Rockland, and at least three days a week I work in Bangor. That’s a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive. I pass a lot of lawn signs on the way. In Rockland, it’s been Mills (16 percent voter ID) and Bruce Poliquin (eight percent) duking it out at the few small grassy parks throughout town, but over the last few days some Otten (30 percent) signs have shown up as well.

I have to get to Camden before I see anyone else’s name (Abbot’s, eight percent, and LePage, seven percent) and I have to get to Belfast before I see any mention of anyone else (Matt Jacobson has signs on the Route 1 overpass in Belfast, and a 3 percent voter ID).

Notice any missing names? Bill Beardsly. The guy has no ground campaign, if lawn signs are any indicator. (Or, you know, a lack of any concentrated media campaign. No Peter Mills-style ads on Augusta Insider, no TV spots).

Also, no democrats until Bangor (Steve Rowe, 11 percent, in the window for the local Pakistani restaurant. I guess they really like the guy). I saw some Rosa Scarcelli (seven percent) signs somewhere along the way too, but only one, and I don’t remember where. Libby Mitchell (the most recognized Democratic candidate with 16 percent voter ID) has no signs on Route 1.

So from what I can tell, the voter ID numbers match roughly with what I’ve seen from lawn signs. Lots of Otten (even if not in Rockland) with Mills and Poliquin not far behind. On my daily commute, Jacobson exists in only Belfast, which makes the 3 percent ID make sense. Rowe is the only democrat I’ve seen signs from, which explains why he’s ahead of Democratic hopefulls Scarcelli and McGowan in Voter ID. The big mystery is Mitchell, but not really when you consider she is Senate President.

What about the rest of you? Have you guys noticed any lawn sign trends in your hometowns or commuter zones?

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Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Friday, May 14th, 2010, 10:45 am

Jacobson campaign links U.S. Chamber of Commerce to NYC bomb plot


After today’s announcement that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will run ads in support of Republican Steve Abbott for governor, fellow Republican candidate Matt Jacobson’s campaign manager Bill Becker had this to say in a press release:

On a day when an arrest has been made right here in Maine in connection with the attempted Times Square bombing and illegal immigration charges, Mainers should be wary of recommendations by the US Chamber of Commerce whose support of amnesty undermines the constitution and the security of our state and nation.

Of course, Becker didn’t link the Chamber directly to the Times Square bomb attempt (that would be insane), but to mention them in the same paragraph and say their legislative goals would make the country less safe, while hammering on the immigration issue, is a pretty clear attempt to get conservatives under Jacobson despite the Chamber’s support for Abbott.

(For the record: According to its website, the USCC wants immigration reform that includes “an earned pathway to legalization for undocumented workers already contributing to our economy, provided that they are law-abiding and prepared to embrace the obligations and values of our society.”)

The Jacobson campaign must view this endorsement as a serious blow, as their candidate has been promoting his past as a business leader and proponent of economic growth everywhere he possibly could. On the stump, he often recalls a “sleepless night” worrying about the future of Maine children because a manufacturing company decided not to come to Maine.

The guy really, really, wants to be the Republicans’ pro-business, pro-jobs candidate. That’s hard to do when the director of media relations for the largest nonprofit lobbying group, whose job it is to represent business, tells the Lewiston Sun Journal that Steve Abbott “understands what the issues are that are going to create jobs” in Maine.

This certainly doesn’t bode well for Bruce Poliquin or Les Otten, each of whom have also tried to establish themselves as the “business” candidate and ran TV spots about their jobs plans. Even if the Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement doesn’t directly translate to voter support, I’m sure they would’ve liked to have seen its money directed toward ads for their campaigns, not Abbotts.

For blog updates, follow Journalator on Twitter and Facebook.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Thursday, May 13th, 2010, 2:08 pm

Maine GOP turns toward the Tea Party


The Maine Republican Party has adopted a new official platform that contains not only the traditional conservative values of the party, but also new positions inspired by the Tea Party movement.

The platform includes support of abolishing the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve; opposition to Motor Votor, which allows people to register to vote when they get their driver’s license; and clarifies that “health care is not a right. It is a service.”

The platform as passed was an alternative to the proposed document that contained general conservative themes, according to the Bangor Daily News. Various news sources in Maine, as well as the AP, attribute the platform to a group of activists from Knox County. Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville, said delegates wouldn’t have approved the platform if they had understood its implications, according to the Kennebec Journal.

“This platform here can be used to defeat Republicans in the general election,” [Mills] said. “The convention this year attracted a number of people I think who had not been to a convention before and came to highjack the platform.”

(more…)

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Friday, May 7th, 2010, 4:56 pm

New domain, Facebook page


Because I’m better at promoting than I am posting (though I’ll post much more frequently after this weekend), Journalator now has a new domain (journalator.net) and Facebook page.

So become a friend on Facebook, where I’m sure I’ll be posting blog updates and links to news stories of interest.

Also, in case you didn’t know, the website is optimized for mobile use, so you can always check Journalator on the go.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 2:34 am

Holy crap full-page, A1 editorial


I’m not kidding.

The Arizona Republic, a huge newspaper in Phoenix, published today a wrap containing a full-page editorial regarding the recently-passed immigration reform bill heralded by critics as the “papers please law.”

Editorial wrap from the Arizona Republic. Photo from Charles Apple.

The editorial takes to task all those the Republic says are responsible for “failing Arizona,” namely Gov. Jan Brewer, Dept. of Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jon Kyl, former-Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, state Sens. Russell Pearce and Raul Grijalva,  Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Attorney General Andrew Thomas.

The paper accused these federal, state, county and city officials of pandering to their respective bases in an attempt to garner votes while abandoning their duty to lead. The authors write that the law “intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration.”

I just wanted to point out how much I love, love, ballsy and attention-grabbing editorials. Not only that, but the Republic managed to make a full page of text look beautiful without using any cheap tricks or gimmicks.


Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 3:32 pm

Update: Otten moves to play down plagiarism claims


The Bangor Daily News reports that Republican gubernatorial candidate Les Otten has fired a consultant in connection with Otten’s alleged plagiarism of a conservative think-tank employee.

According to the report from Christopher Cousins, Otten’s campaign manager, Edie Smith, has fired an unnamed consultant. The story makes no mention of how the consultant was involved in the alleged plagiarism or who the person was, and the campaign is making PR moves to get past the debacle altogether.

“As campaign manager, the buck stops with me,” said Smith. “Les and I and the whole team are feeling the pain of this and we are hoping to move on.”

The report also makes mention of previous allegations of Otten’s campaign website and logo imitating President Obama’s campaign aesthetic.

Obama's campaign logo (left) and Les Otten's (right). From the Bangor Daily News.

That logo is gone from the Otten for Governor website, but can still be seen in his “Jobs for Maine” campaign commercial.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Monday, May 3rd, 2010, 1:55 pm

Les Otten accused of plagiarism


Or, “The value of attribution.”

It seems one of Maine’s top gubernatorial candidates, Republican Les Otten, plagiarized a conservative think-tank in outlining his thoughts on education funding in Vacationland.

This morning, the Bangor Daily News led me to this post on Pine Tree Politics. In it, Editor in Chief Matthew Gagnon outlines how Otten plagiarized, purposefully or inadvertently, Steve Bowen at the Maine Heritage Policy Center.

Here are the first two paragraphs from Otten, responding to a questionnaire from Augusta Insider about the federal education grant program Race to the Top:

Under the Race to the Top program, $4.3 billion is being made available to states to help them fund promising education reforms.
The catch is that this is a competitive grant program.  States across the nation have responded by passing comprehensive reform legislation that moves their states forward in a dramatic fashion.

Here’s a selection from Bowen’s statement to the Maine Legislature regarding the same program:

Under the Race to the Top program, $4.3 billion is being made available to states to help them fund promising education reforms. The catch is that this is a competitive grant program, and states across the nation have responded by passing comprehensive reform legislation that moves their states forward in a dramatic fashion.

Otten’s response to the questionnaire goes on for a while longer to discuss why Maine must compete for Race to the Top funding, but it appears all of his answer was lifted nearly word-for-word from Bowen’s statement.

So far, the Otten campaign’s attempt at damage control has included a statement, posted as an update at Augusta Insider,  that “part of the answer” originated with Bowen. It states that the lack of attribution is an “inadvertent oversight” and an “error of omission, not an error of commission.”

The original author, however, isn’t having any of it. On a post to the MHPC’s website, Bowie highlights the selection of text that he says Otten stole. He writes:

Otten’s response is 419 words long. Of that, only the last eight words — “We can, and must, compete for these funds’” — originated with someone other than me.

And we are supposed to believe that this was an “inadvertent oversight”?

Please.

As Gagnon is quick to point out with great sensationalism, Maine’s mainstream media is just starting to pick up this story. I’m curious how bad this is going to be for Otten, who has already spent $1.2 million of his own money on his campaign, according to the Portland Press Herald. It is also yet to be seen if any of Otten’s six Republican opponents in the primary will pick this up as a line of attack.

The irony of all this is that  giving credit to the Maine Heritage Policy Center could only have played well with Otten’s base. This whole soon-to-be debacle could have been avoided easily by following the same rule every high school student is taught when quoting others: Cite your sources.

http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/142555.html
Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, 3:53 am

Gibbs: I Love the Press


So, Lloyd Grove over at The Daily Beast interviewed White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the warm-and-fuzzies (or lack thereof) between the press and the man standing between the media and the big man himself.

Gibbs said he loves the press corps, and even told Grove that he sometimes goes to bat for reporters.

“Any press secretary has to serve in both roles,” he says. “You have to be a spokesperson for the policies and decisions of any administration, and at the same time you have to protect the prerogatives of the press in what happens each day at the White House.”

In the course of the interview, they talk about Gibbs constant Twittering, the atmosphere in the Brady Briefing Room, and the secretary’s long relationship with the Obamas. Grove also brings up the president’s tendency to beat on the media during his speeches, something I can attest to personally. When I covered the president’s rally in Portland a few weeks ago, the big guy definitely took his fair share of jabs at my profession while attempting to frame the post-debate debate on health care reform.

At any rate, it’s an interesting read. Check it out.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Monday, April 19th, 2010, 5:09 am

Also, AP is catching up.


From AP Stylebook’s Twitter feed:

April 16:

Responding to reader input, we are changing Web site to website. This appears on Stylebook Online today and in the 2010 book next month.

They’re also changing “microphone” to “mic.” It’s good to know that AP is catching up with the times. And by times I mean the 1990s.

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.



Monday, April 19th, 2010, 4:11 am

Arrest made in student's hit-and-run


As published in The Maine Campus:

Police have arrested a South Berwick man in connection with the Jan. 30 death of University of Maine student Jordyn Bakley of  Camden.

Garrett Cheney, 22, was arrested 6 a.m. Friday morning, according to Penobscot County District Attorney Chris Almy. Cheney has been charged with manslaughter, aggravated criminal operating under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death to a person and criminal operating under the influence. Almy said Cheney turned himself in to state police in Orono after learning there was a warrant out for his arrest. (more…)

Mario Carmine Moretto is editor of Politicator and a founding editor of the Observer.