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Political Brew: Proxy voting, the LePage effect, and dodging debates

This past week, Republican Congressional candidate Dale Crafts released his first TV ad, featuring former Gov. Paul LePage offering an endorsement.

MAINE, USA — Congress has been squabbling over whether to change the rules to allow remote voting, and voting by proxy, for members who don't want to travel to Washington, DC during the pandemic. The question is split along party lines, with many Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is criticizing Democratic Rep. Jared Golden for supporting the proposal.

The NRCC says "That means these elitist House Democrats think they can lead from their couch while the clerk at the local grocery store, sanitation workers collecting their trash, and all of the medical personnel working on the front lines still have to go into work."

NEWS CENTER Maine Democratic political analyst John Richardson points out that this is a necessary, but temporary rule change.

"This is important work that they're doing down there," says Richardson, and it needs to get done.

But Republican analyst Phil Harriman sees it differently, saying "There many people in America who are going to work that are dealing with this virus. I don't see any reason why Congress shouldn't do it as well."

This past week, Republican Congressional candidate Dale Crafts released his first TV ad, featuring former Gov. Paul LePage offering an endorsement.

Our analysts agree that endorsements don't often have too much impact on a race, but in this primary, it just might, because of LePage's popularity among Republicans.

Says Richardson, "In the second congressional district where Paul LePage is very strong, his endorsement of a particular candidate I think will help that candidate tremendously."

Harriman thinks this will give Crafts a significant boost because "Paul LePage still has the support of the heart and soul of Republicans in Maine."

The first televised primary debates are scheduled to air on NEWS CENTER Maine on June 8th (Senate Democratic Primary), and June 10th (Republican candidates in CD-2).

But not all candidates are willing to participate. Democratic Senate hopeful Sara Gideon declined the invitation without explanation. Republican Congressional candidate Eric Brakey has decided to skip that "Voice of the Voter" forum because it will be conducted virtually via Zoom meeting.

Brakey spokesman David Boyer tells us "Putting aside its unreliability, most of the 2nd district is opened/opening up. We will not be contributing to the Governor's 'new normal'. We feel a safe debate can be held in person, while socially distancing."

Circumstances of the pandemic preclude NEWS CENTER Maine from hosting the candidates in our studio, but we feel that a forum conducted remotely is better than none at all.

Phil Harriman thinks skipping the forum could be a good political strategy for Gideon since she "is up on the airwaves, she's introduced herself to voters."

But John Richardson says while it might be a good strategy now, it could be problematic later.

"Everyone wants to have a fair election where their candidate got heard, says Richardson. "And if they can't go ahead and have a contrast and comparison, that could be fallout come the fall."

And Richardson says to Brakey "I think you've missed an opportunity to get out and make your points and make your complaints about the governor's position on the pandemic."

Political Brew airs Sundays on The Morning Report.

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