Maine Repub­li­cans re-elect chair

GOP re­jected Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive reach, but ac­cepts Trump’s


AU­GUSTA, Maine, Jan 13, (AP): Maine Repub­li­cans who suf­fered blis­ter­ing losses in Novem­ber re-elected their leader and chose an out­spo­ken city mayor as vice-chair Satur­day.

The GOP re-elected Demi Kouzounas as chair and chose Water­ville Mayor Nick Is­gro as vice-chair in a Satur­day morn­ing elec­tion. Sec­re­tary Bar­bara Har­vey and Trea­surer Ben Lom­bard were both re-elected.

The Satur­day elec­tion of party of­fi­cers in Au­gusta comes as Repub­li­cans statewide are try­ing to fig­ure out a path for­ward fol­low­ing the loss of the gover­nor’s man­sion and state Se­nate. Democrats also con­trol the Maine House.

“I’m hon­ored to be en­trusted with this po­si­tion, and fo­cused on win­ning in 2020,” said Kouzounas in a state­ment. “We are at a turn­ing point as a state and na­tion, I will fight for the Maine peo­ple ev­ery day.”

Democrats boosted by out-of-state money ran in Novem­ber on stri­dent prom­ises of ex­pand­ing ac­cess to health­care amid ris­ing med­i­cal costs and an opi­oid cri­sis.

For­mer Gov Paul LePage urged Maine Repub­li­cans to main­tain the same lead­er­ship, and blamed losses on divi­sion among Repub­li­cans and “soft Repub­li­can ur­ban women” who were an­gered over US Sen Su­san Collins’ speech de­fend­ing Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh. “We need to be will­ing to take the fight on, and not sim­ply point fin­gers,” LePage wrote in a let­ter to the Repub­li­can state com­mit­tee.


Out­go­ing GOP Vice Chair Ryan Lor­rain said Repub­li­can mes­sages about fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity un­der LePage failed to strike an emo­tional chord. Lor­rain also pointed to con­cerns over “po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.” Vot­ers, Lor­rain said, may have liked LePage’s fis­cal wins but dis­liked what he had to say.

Some Repub­li­cans called for an over­haul of Maine’s party amid di­vides be­tween those who are trum­pet­ing LePage’s pug­na­cious, Tea Party-era pol­i­tics, and oth­ers call­ing for mod­er­a­tion and a fo­cus on pol­icy over style.

The new lead­er­ship “has to take all the fac­tions of the Maine GOP and pull them to­gether to get ready for 2020,” Har­vey said. “They have to start that on Satur­day af­ter­noon.”

Is­gro was ousted as as­sis­tant vi­cepres­i­dent at a bank for tweets last year crit­i­ciz­ing a Park­land, Flor­ida, high school shoot­ing sur­vivor. Is­gro, who’s served as mayor since 2015, blamed a failed re­call ef­fort to re­move him from of­fice in Water­ville on “well-con­nected and wealthy po­lit­i­cal elites.”

“I’m ready to take the fight to the left,” said Is­gro in a state­ment. “We can sup­port good ideas and progress for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, but we must never give in to the de­struc­tive agenda of the rad­i­cal left.”

Lor­rain said Maine Democrats will take ad­van­tage of Is­gro be­ing a “po­lar­iz­ing” fig­ure to some. Is­gro’s elec­tion Satur­day drew im­me­di­ate crit­i­cism from the Lewis­ton Demo­cratic Party, which cited his elec­tion in a fundrais­ing email to sup­port­ers.


“There are peo­ple who sup­port Nick Is­gro and there are peo­ple who have strong feel­ings against him and they can use that to their ben­e­fit,” Lor­rain said.

Maine Repub­li­cans must do more to reach out to in­de­pen­dent vot­ers, re­cruit can­di­dates and co­or­di­nate ab­sen­tee bal­lots, Lor­rain said. But those ef­forts won’t be easy amid hurt feel­ings, ap­a­thy and dwin­dled GOP leg­isla­tive ranks.

Har­vey, for her part, agreed that the elec­tion de­feats were jar­ring and that there are di­vi­sions and hurt feel­ings. But she sug­gested good things could come from the de­feat.

“We’ve heard a lot of con­cerns and a lot of very hurt feel­ings, and a lot of sur­prise and anx­i­ety,” she said. “It’s go­ing to be very hard for us to get can­di­dates. Some­times, change is the great cat­a­lyst that brings peo­ple to­gether.”

Mean­while, pres­i­dent Barack Obama stunned Repub­li­cans when he by­passed Con­gress and, re­ly­ing on what he called his pen and his phone, used ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to en­act his agenda, in­clud­ing pro­tect­ing mil­lions of young im­mi­grants from de­por­ta­tion.

Now, with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump propos­ing an even more dra­matic end-run around Con­gress to build his promised bor­der wall with Mex­ico, many Repub­li­cans are un­easily cheer­ing him on.


The po­ten­tial use of a na­tional emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion by Trump for the bor­der wall shows the ex­tent to which the party is will­ing to yield on trea­sured val­ues — in this case, the con­sti­tu­tional sepa­ra­tion of pow­ers — to steer clear of con­fronting the White House and give the pres­i­dent what he wants.

It’s a dif­fer­ent ac­com­mo­da­tion from just a few years ago. Then Repub­li­cans of­ten called out Obama as over­step­ping his au­thor­ity in us­ing ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions when Con­gress failed to act on White House pri­or­i­ties. They com­plained about Obama as “king,” ‘’em­peror” or “tyrant.”

Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., a leader of the House Free­dom Cau­cus, said most con­ser­va­tives would go along with Trump’s de­ci­sion to de­clare a na­tional emer­gency as “the last tool in the tool box” for build­ing the wall.

“Does the pres­i­dent have the right and the abil­ity to do it? Yes. Would most of us pre­fer a leg­isla­tive op­tion? Yes,” Mead­ows told re­porters this week. “Most con­ser­va­tives want it to be the last re­sort he would use. But those same con­ser­va­tives, I’m sure, if it’s de­ployed, would em­brace him as hav­ing done all he could do to ne­go­ti­ate with Democrats.”

Other Repub­li­cans say Trump has few op­tions left after talks broke down at the White House over his long­promised bor­der wall.

“This is not some­thing you would want to do,” said Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, now the top Repub­li­can on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

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