PORTLAND, Maine — SWEET ENDORSEMENT
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Betsy Sweet has won the endorsement of the group "Justice Democrats," which played a prominent role in the election of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last fall. Sweet says she is the first Senate candidate to earn the group's endorsement.
Former Republican State Senator Phil Harriman says Ocasio-Cortez was elected by a solidly liberal constituency in New York.
He believes "This endorsement tells me that Betsy Sweet is of a similar political alignment."
Harriman adds, "Make no mistake about it, the Democrats are moving to the left in rapid fashion."
Democrat John Richardson says the endorsement should be of some concern to Sara Gideon, who has won the endorsement of a number of other prominent political organizations.
Richardson says "This is a state Bernie Sanders won over Hillary Clinton, it's a fairly liberal- progressive state in a Democratic primary. So you see, Betsy Sweet has become the candidate of progressives."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is working to hold her majority together, reportedly admonishing democrats for personally attacking one another. Many believe her target is four liberal freshmen, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
John Richardson, who served as Speaker of the Maine House, says he can relate.
He explains, "We had to have those conversations within our caucus. Caucuses are made up of people who come from all parts of the country, or of the state, and you've got conservative or moderate Democrats that are within the caucus in the House, you've got to protect those people. You can't go too far out. If you do you could jeopardize the majority. So while these freshmen, who are new to the game, they want certain reforms and they want it now, they have to understand that we've got to bring the country with us. That means you got to bring conservative had moderate Democrats with you as well, and I think Speaker Pelosi did exactly the right thing. It might've ruffled feathers, but it was the right thing for her to say.
Phil Harriman agrees that "in order for that left-wing progressive agenda to flourish, they're going to have to bring the country with them. I think at this point they haven't, which is what Nancy Pelosi is astutely recognizing.
PROTECTING MAINE'S LOBSTER INDUSTRY
Gov. Janet Mills and Maine's Congressional delegation have come out against new federal regulations meant to protect endangered right whales. Maine lobstermen say they're already doing a lot on that front, and they fear the new rules could devastate the industry.
Mills has told the Maine Department of Marine Resources to find an alternative to the federal plan.
But does Maine have the clout with the Trump administration to make a difference? Harriman says "I think they will listen to us. Let's remember, the incidents of right whales which have been in harm's way have been in Canadian waters, not Maine waters."
Richardson says the governor is right to seek an alternative to the federal plan instead of just asking for a rollback of the rules. And he believes there's a political calculation that could work in Maine's favor.
"I think Donald Trump looks at an electoral map, he saw that he won the second Congressional district (in 2016), that includes many of those lobstermen, and I think something will happen because he understands he needs that electoral vote to win."