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Political Brew: Falling numbers for Collins, more trouble for CMP, and a vaccine vote

Lots of topics for this week's Political Brew. Maine Senator Susan Collins is in the Washington hot seat. Central Maine Power facing a news investigation as well

MAINE, USA — A new national survey says Sen. Susan Collins, once Maine's most popular politician, now has the highest disapproval rating of any senator in the nation.
The national tracking poll by Morning Consult finds that since President Trump took office in 2017, Collins' approval ranking has gone from 67% to 42%.
A Collins campaign spokesman says "This is an online poll that has little credibility. We are confident that it does not reflect reality."

NEWS CENTER Maine's Republican political analyst Phil Harriman says part of the reason for those numbers is a very early start to serious campaign advertising for an election still more than ten months away. But he says this is a signal that "Susan Collins needs to be on her game. And I think she is."

Democratic analyst John Richardson says there are several reasons for Collins' precipitous drop in this poll. "It's because of her vote and giving a tax breaks to billionaires, that was basically contrary to where Maine people were," says Richardson. And he says "Her vote for Justice Brett Kavanagh has hurt her and damaged her greatly."

Richardson also believes Democrat Sara Gideon is running a very good race.

Less than one week after Central Maine Power was found by staff at the Public Utilities Commission to not have an issue in its billing and metering, the utility is being investigated again, this time for allegedly sending notices threatening to disconnect service without P-U-C approval, something that's not allowed during the winter months.

Harriman says last week it looked as though CMP had turned a corner in starting to restoring public trust. Now he feels that "If this does have legs, it does have validity to it, they're back in the corner of trying to restore their reputation."

Richardson says the start of the solution for the utility is simple. "I can save the millions of dollars on their PR campaigns," says Richardson, "by just getting the CEO, who is a great guy, on the air and saying 'we have goofed and we will do better. and you have my word on it.'"

On March 3rd, Mainers will vote on whether to overturn a new law that eliminates the religious and philosophical exemptions for childhood vaccinations. But there are few signs of any active campaigning. Backers of the referendum, who want to repeal the law, have raised more than $315,000.

John Richardson says that's not a lot of money for a referendum campaign. "Generally you wait until the last week or two before the referendum vote to get that money out and get it in play. And I think that's what happening at this point."

Phil Harriman thinks "Most people are probably unaware that there's going to be a referendum vote in March, so that's going to be part of the attraction, how do you get people to care enough to go to the polls?"

Political Brew airs Sundays on The Morning Report.

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