Gov. Paul LePage has but a year to go in his administration, and another member of his staff is looking to the future. Her future. LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett will begin work at Kennebec Savings Bank in August.
A part of the governor’s administration from the very beginning, Press Secretary Bennett was the unflappable center of his communications team. Though the governor was not able to resist a swipe or two at the media in his press release announcing her departure, he was right when he said, “She was able to handle a very difficult job with poise and composure.”
Praising Bennett for her “years of dedicated public service,” her boss also gave a nod to the particular challenges his press secretary faced. “I will miss Adrienne’s guidance and advice – even if I didn’t take it all the time.” She was a stabilizing presence at the governor’s sometimes volatile public meetings, carrying off a difficult role with aplomb.
One who could take a lesson in professionalism from Bennett is state Rep. Scott Hamann, who unloaded on President Donald Trump in spectacular fashion on Facebook last week. An X-rated diatribe to a “childhood friend” included plenty of blue language, and there went the high road.
LePage famously left a profanity-laced voicemail for state Rep. Drew Gattine last year; much ink was spilled over the inappropriateness of such uncivil talk. Now the shoe is on the Democratic foot.
House Speaker and fellow Democrat Sara Gideon responded three days later, if not quickly then at least decisively, removing Rep. Hamann from the policy committee (Health and Human Services) on which he served. A rep without a committee is a man without a country, having little to do during much of the legislative session other than twiddle his thumbs waiting for the House to convene, when he can twiddle some more while waiting to push his voting button.
Hamann said his comments were “intended to make a visceral point about the devolving political discourse in America.” By further devolving political discourse? How does that work? Hamann is not a political novice. He is currently serving his third term in the House.
Hamann works for the Good Shepherd Food Bank, but he does not sound good shepherd-y. In a sign of persistent cluelessness, he threatened a radio host who posted Hamann’s comments on Facebook with legal action “if anything negative comes from your attack on my employment … .”
Hamann has more to worry about than a talk show host. Reports indicate he is now being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service for suggesting that Trump “is a half-term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet” of him.
Onward. The tally of gubernatorial candidates hit double digits last week when former House Speaker Mark Eves announced his intention to run. There was enough speculation about this that when it finally happened, it was a bit of a snooze.
Eves attempted to punch it up by releasing a prequel to the announcement that included cute kids, both two-legged and four-legged, and pigs and chickens. Okay, he has a cute and farm-y family. Good start.
The actual announcement was made on Facebook, in an awkwardly staged video that showed Eves standing on his back deck in North Berwick speaking to a crowd of friends and neighbors below in a manner reminiscent of a papal address. All the necessary touch points came up: family pressures, work challenges, financial worries, the “need to see the good in each other even when we disagree.”
Eves gives every indication of being a nice guy, entirely undeserving of his manhandling by LePage, who managed to get a nonprofit to rescind a job offer to Eves by threatening to withhold state funds as Eves neared the end of his legislative service.
Still, if you are hoping for something a little more dynamic, a little less party line, Eves does not fill the bill, at least not yet. He joins four other Democrats so far in a bid for the nomination. One is Attorney General Janet Mills, another is stand-up veteran Adam Cote who drew outsized attention in a 2008 race against the seriously popular Chellie Pingree in the 1st Congressional District, finishing second in a six-way primary.
Rounding out the Democratic field for now are longtime lobbyist Betsy Sweet, well-known in the capitol but not so much beyond, and Patrick “Ike” Eisenhart, not well-known anywhere. He has the misuse of Health and Human Services funds on his mind, not to mention Tibetans who “perform IT services at DHHS.” See for yourself at ilikeike.solutions.
There may be more entries to come. You independents out there, remember that you will only get to choose between the nominees the parties present. You will not have a hand in selecting those nominees. The two bills this year proposing open primaries? Dead, dead, dead. Just two Hancock County representatives voted not to kill one open primary bill. Thank you, Reps. Chapman and Kumiega, for voting to allow independents to participate.