Crown Politics

Expect lots of love for LePage and a tense afternoon at this year’s Maine GOP convention

Good morning from Augusta, where the Republican State Convention kicks off this morning at the Augusta Civic Center.

The bulk of this convention will be about rallying Republicans for state-level and congressional elections in November. In a presidential year, there is a national convention and a major function of the state convention is electing delegates to cast nominating votes for president on the national stage. This year is an off-year election, so expect speech after speech about how important it will be to retain the Blaine House and 2nd Congressional District and take majorities in the Maine Legislature.

There is a bit of business to attend to which isn’t incredibly important in the grand scheme of things but could be interesting. Starting around 9:30 a.m., according to a draft agenda of the convention, there will be some decisions, and likely some debate, about party rules and the party platform. The latter has proven interesting at times in the past, such as in 2014 when Democrats added legalizing recreational marijuana to theirs. In general, party platforms have grown to reflect the views of the more extreme elements of each party, although most elected officials ignore the platform after taking office.

There could be a tense tribute this afternoon. This afternoon rounds out with speeches by state House and Senate candidates and a program honoring Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, who is term-limited out of his Senate seat this year. It will be interesting to see how that goes. Thibodeau has angered some on the more conservative side of the party by aligning himself and most of his Senate colleagues against Gov. Paul LePage and House Republicans on some major issues, such as state budget bills and more recently, voting in favor of extending this year’s legislative session while House Republicans refused.

On Thursday, LePage called on Thibodeau and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, to resign. LePage has said that before and his criticizing Thibodeau, who ran a relatively brief primary campaign but dropped out is nothing new. Thibodeau responded that he shares the governor’s goals on major issues such as tax conformity and suggested he is “uninformed about what is happening in the Legislature,” according to WCSH.

Tomorrow is the main show. The public portion of today’s activities winds down around 5 p.m. but the convention kicks off again early Saturday with speeches by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, followed by challengers to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent. Still appearing on the online agenda is a speech by Max Linn of Bar Harbor, who was mounting a primary campaign against Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, until Linn was disqualified from the primary ballot because of faulty or fraudulent signatures on his nominating petitions. Linn has appealed that rulingto Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

LePage takes the stage late Saturday morning for what could be his final major public speech before he leaves office in January 2019. After lunch are speeches by the four Republican candidates for governor, Mary MayhewShawn MoodyKen Fredette and Garrett Mason.

Keep it tuned to the Bangor Daily News for full coverage of the Republican convention today and tomorrow as well as the Democratic convention, which kicks off May 18 at the Colisee in Lewiston.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Expect lots of love for LePage and a tense afternoon at this year’s Maine GOP convention,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Christopher Cousins, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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