How could anyone want to impeach this man?
• ME-Gov: Political life in Maine has been tumultuous ever since Republican Paul LePage assumed the governorship four years ago, but things up there just got a whole lot crazier. On Wednesday, a charter school for at-risk youths called Good Will-Hinckley rescinded a job offer to Democratic state House Speaker Mark Eves, who was set to become its next president in just a matter of days. (Legislators in Maine only serve part-time, so most must find outside employment.) In an explosive charge, Eves accused LePage of threatening to withhold half a million in state funding for the school, in order to pressure it to withdraw the offer to Eves, a move he called "blackmail."
The combative LePage didn't even dispute the claim. In fact, he embraced it in an official statement, saying he "reaffirmed his opposition" to Eves' appointment as president of Good Will-Hinckley, because Eves is allegedly an "an ardent foe of charter schools" and his hire was the result of a "back-room deal" that constituted "political corruption." As for the school's funding, LePage was clear as day that it had been in play:
To provide half-a-million dollars in taxpayer funding to a charter school that would be headed by Maine's most vehement anti-charter-school politician is not only the height of hypocrisy, it is absolutely unacceptable.
Eves adds that LePage even sent a handwritten note
to the school threatening to pull its funding. The chairman of the school's board acknowledges receiving such a letter but claims it "may have been discarded."
But it gets worse. According to a new report on Thursday evening, LePage halted a routine $100,000 transfer to Good Will-Hinckley on the very same day that Eves' appointment was announced. Again, this is a school for at-risk youth, whose mission LePage endangered by denying it money it expected to receive. Making this all the more galling, in an earlier letter fulminating against Eves' hiring, LePage cited his own difficult upbringing; in spite of that, he didn't hesitate to jeopardize a school for kids just like him in order to punish a political enemy.
Eves says he is considering a civil lawsuit against LePage. More dramatically, lawmakers in the state House, which is controlled by Democrats, are considering impeachment proceedings. LePage's abusive behavior has been unending throughout his tenure—on Wednesday, he "joked" that he'd "like to shoot" a political cartoonist he doesn't care for; on Thursday, he declared that a group of legislators should be "rounded up and executed in the public square"—but one pro-impeachment representative, independent Ben Chipman, says his colleagues "are fired up like I've never seen before."
If the House does impeach LePage, the Senate would hold a trial, where a two-thirds majority would be necessary to remove the governor from office. The upper chamber is held by Republicans, so it would be a difficult task to oust LePage, but he's alienated members of his own party almost as much as he has Democrats, so anything is possible. Indeed, state Senate President Michael Thibodeau said he was "shocked" by the allegations (though note that he's the guy who would take LePage's place, but only until a special election could be held next year). We'll definitely be hearing more in the days to come.
• FL-Sen, 01: Republican Rep. Jeff Miller has been mulling a Senate bid for a while, and Roll Call reports that he'll announce he's in as early as next week. Miller himself claims he's still undecided about his plans, though it would be a huge surprise if he didn't jump in. Miller recently hired the prominent Republican polling firm OnMessage, something he wouldn't be doing if he were planning to seek re-election to his safely red House seat. Miller would join Rep. Ron DeSantis in the GOP primary, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera is expected to kick off his own campaign on July 15.
If Miller seeks a promotion, we should have a competitive primary in his northwest Florida seat. State Sen. Greg Evers has already said that he'll run if Miller leaves, and wealthy state Sen. Don Gaetz is likely to join him. Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has also been mentioned as a potential contender. Hayward's office dismissed the speculation, but didn't actually say that he wouldn't run.
But as the Pensacola News Journal's Will Isern notes, there's good reason to think that Hayward won't go for it in the end. While Pensacola is the largest community in the district, it's still not particularly big, and Hayward would start out with a name-recognition deficit against Evers and Gaetz. Hayward also doesn't have much experience raising the huge amounts of money he'll need to win. Several of Hayward's projects are still in progress, and he'd probably be reluctant to leave now.
• NH-Sen: Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said that she won't make a decision on whether to run against Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte until the state budget is taken care of, and it looks like that's not going to be anytime soon. Hassan just vetoed the GOP legislature's proposed plan, and we're probably in for months more of wrangling.
• VoteVets: VoteVets, a well-funded group dedicated to electing Democratic veterans to Congress, is beginning to unveil which candidates it plans to support this cycle. On the Senate side, they're backing Rep. Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Secretary of State Jason Kander in Missouri, and ex-Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania: Their chairman singled out Duckworth in particular, calling her contest "the No. 1 race in our history." Of this trio, only Kander looks like he'll take the Democratic nomination without any real opposition. Duckworth faces a primary with Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp, while national and state Democrats desperately want someone besides Sestak as their nominee.
In the House corner, VoteVets has already endorsed state Sen. Tom Cullerton in the primary race to succeed Duckworth. The group's chair also says that they're planning to support Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal in CA-24 and former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in MD-04. All three candidates face credible primary opponents in Democratic-leaning seats, though MD-04 is the only district that's completely safe for Team Blue.
• MT-Gov: While Public Service Commission Chairman Brad Johnson still says he's mulling a campaign against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, he recently filed paperwork to allow him to raise money for a campaign. Johnson isn't a particularly exciting candidate: He narrowly lost his 2008 re-election bid for secretary of state, and his comeback attempt failed four years later. Billionaire Greg Gianforte is also likely to run in the GOP primary, though he's not exactly a disciplined politician.
• MI-01: State Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson has announced that he will challenge Republican Rep. Dan Benishek in this Northern Michigan seat. While state party chairs usually don't make for obvious congressional candidates, local Democrats sound excited about Johnson. He raised a respectable about of money during his unsuccessful 2012 state House bid, and he ran quite a bit ahead of Obama: Johnson lost HD-103 only 53-47 while Romney was taking the seat 56-43. Johnson is also married to Julianna Smoot, who has a reputation as a prolific fundraiser.
Johnson may have some company in the primary though. After months of silence, 2014 nominee Jerry Cannon suddenly announced on Thursday that he would form an exploratory committee. While Cannon had a good profile as a county sheriff, he proved to be a meh fundraiser last time.
Romney won the 1st, which includes all the Upper Peninsula, 54-45, but Benishek has never been safe here. Benishek defeated Cannon 52-45 during last year's GOP wave, not an incredible result given that national Democrats abandoned this seat in October. Benishek also may face a credible primary challenger, though none of his would-be foes have made much noise in the last few months.
• Charlotte Mayor: Our first poll of the Sept. 15 Democratic primary comes from Lake Research Partners on behalf of former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts:
• Ex-Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts: 30
• Interim Mayor Dan Clodfelter: 16
• Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes: 16
• Councilor David Howard: 9
If no one takes at least 40 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will meet in an Oct. 6 runoff. The GOP primary is a contest between 2013 nominee and former Councilor Edwin Peacock and 2011 nominee Scott Stone. Peacock came close to taking this seat in 2013, and he's likely the frontrunner for Team Red.
• Toledo Mayor: Several candidates are still mulling bids for this November's special election, but labor is rallying behind interim Democratic Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson. Hicks-Hudson just received the backing of the regional AFL-CIO, who joins the United Auto Workers and county Democratic Party in her corner.
• Deaths: Mario Biaggi served 10 terms as a Democratic member of Congress, representing parts of the Bronx from 1968 until 1988. Biaggi is likely to be remembered more for his ignominious end than anything he did legislatively, though. Despite his law-and-order reputation (which was based on his previous employment as a police officer), he resigned his seat at the height of his power after becoming ensnared in a tangle of several different corruption cases, including the now-largely-forgotten Wedtech scandal (which helped propel then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani to fame and then the mayoralty). Biaggi died on Wednesday at the age of 97.
• Demographics: FiveThirtyEight's Ben Casselman has a detailed look at where the nation's elderly residents are, an increasingly big deal both politically and economically as the large bulge in the nation's population that is the Baby Boomers starts to pass the 65-plus mark. It includes county-level maps of not just which counties have the most senior citizens per capita and which counties are seeing the rates of seniors increasing the most, but also, for comparison, the counties with the most working-age residents and the most children per capita.
The county with the highest percentage of seniors, of course, is Sumter County, Florida, the location of the burgeoning
waiting room at death's insatiable maw retirement community The Villages, though much of the rest of the non-Miami, non-Orlando parts of Florida are close behind. So too, however, are many low-population counties in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest where seniors are aging in place while younger residents move elsewhere for better job opportunities. (As well as many counties in Arizona, northern Idaho, and southern Oregon that seem to be attracting Californian retirees.)
The heaviest concentrations of children, however, tend to be in places that either have a lot of Latinos (southern California, southern Texas), or else Mormons (Utah and southern Idaho). It's hard to tell from a standard map (a cartogram would be better), but the heaviest concentration of working-age people is, unsurprisingly, the nation's largest cities, which these days are also the main repository of jobs.
• President-by-LD: We venture back to the Commonwealth of Kentucky for a look at the 2014 Senate contest between now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Grimes. We have the results calculated by state House, Senate and congressional district for the Senate race, as well as the 2012 presidential race. You can find our master list of states here. Also be sure to check out Stephen Wolf's interactive state legislative maps.
Democrats hoped that McConnell's unpopularity would help Grimes appeal to the conservative Democrats who have abandoned the party in most federal contests, but it was not to be. McConnell defeated Grimes 56-41 in a state that Romney had carried 61-38 two years before. Team Blue did hold their 54-46 state House majority, which is quite impressive since McConnell took the exact same 82 seats that Romney had won. Grimes did improve on Obama's margin in 91 seats, but it clearly wasn't enough. The biggest swing towards Grimes was in Speaker Greg Stumbo's Eastern Kentucky HD-95: Romney carried it 67-31, while McConnell won it 54-43.
The state Senate has been in GOP hands since 1999, and their 27-11 majority isn't going to be in any danger anytime soon. McConnell also carried the very same 33 seats that Romney won, with Grimes improving on Obama's margin in all but two districts. McConnell also carried five of the six congressional districts, losing only Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth's KY-03 in Louisville. Grimes did run ahead of Obama by quite a bit in Eastern Kentucky's 6th District, losing 51-46 compared to Obama's 56-42 deficit. However, there's little indication that Republican Rep. Andy Barr is in any danger.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, and Daniel Donner.