Nuggets from the notebook while wondering what Gov. Paul LePage and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have been talking about . . .
It's fairly common for governors to develop relationships with their peers in other states. Chief executives often attend national conferences to discuss policy matters and meet with business leaders. They may call each other for advice. Sometimes they call for assistance, as was the case in September when Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin asked LePage to send the Maine National Guard to assist with the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene.
In that context, the two recent phone calls between Perry and LePage may be business as usual. LePage, after all, was one of several Republican governors who signed a proclamation supporting Perry's Aug. 6 day of prayer event in Houston, Texas.
Maybe Perry called on Aug. 10 to thank LePage for his support.
Or maybe he was calling to tell LePage he was running for president.
Perry formalized his run for the White House on Aug. 13. Is it possible the Texas governor was looking for LePage's endorsement?
Short answer: Yes.
Perry's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Adrienne Bennett, LePage's spokeswoman, said the conversation was a private matter.
"I can tell you that Gov. LePage has not endorsed anybody for president," Bennett said.
It makes sense that Perry would seek LePage's support. Presidential candidates are constantly seeking party validators to help lure potential donations and volunteers. And, as political junkies will tell you, an early endorsement is better than a late one.
That's why the GOP hopefuls are in a mad dash for endorsements.
Perry's campaign announced Friday that it had garnered the endorsement of 45 Georgia lawmakers. A week before that it announced that 40 Virginia lawmakers had come aboard.
Perry is also courting governors. Early in September he scooped up Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Call it a coincidence, but Perry's second phone call with LePage came Sept. 20, the same day that rival Mitt Romney announced that a slate of Maine lawmakers and prominent Republicans were backing his bid for the GOP nomination.
LePage isn't on the list.
To this point, he's not on Perry's list, either.
That, too, isn't surprising. After all, those who endorse early are taking the risk of backing a losing candidate. The higher the profile of the endorsement, the higher the risk.
LePage, of course, is also an open admirer of Chris Christie, the charismatic governor of New Jersey who many Republicans are wishing, hoping, pleading will run for president in 2012.
Christie has said he isn't running. Many aren't convinced (or won't be).
Still, it's tempting to speculate about the Aug. 19 phone call between LePage and Christie.
According to Michael Drewniak, Christie's press secretary, there are a number of reasons why Christie and LePage would talk. Besides, he said, "Gov. Christie is a gregarious governor."
Indeed. And he's just the kind of tell-it-like-it-is politician LePage would want to talk to.
Or convince to run for president.
MHPC formally enters the fray
Perhaps lost in last week's news about how several leading opponents of same-day voter registration have previously used it was a tidbit about the Maine Heritage Policy Center and the conservative advocacy group's recently formalized effort to oppose the effort to reinstate the 38-year-old law.
MHPC CEO Lance Dutson told the Sun Journal that the organization had formed a ballot question committee to oppose Question 1 on the November ballot.
The committee and its recent expenditures are now posted on the ethics website.
Question 1 asks voters if they want to restore Election Day registration.
So far, MHPC is the only group to oppose the effort to restore EDR.
MHPC's position is no surprise. The organization recently released a poll about EDR, and the organization has hosted two paid luncheons featuring Secretary of State Charlie Summers, an advocate for repealing EDR. During the luncheons MHPC urged attendees to vote "No" on Question 1.
Still, some supporters of EDR wondered if MHPC would formally file as a ballot question committee or use its nonprofit status to claim its efforts were educational, not political activity.
MHPC is a 501(c)(3), a designation that limits the group's "lobbying activity" to 20 percent of its annual income ("political activity," defined by the IRS as endorsing or opposing a candidate for elected office, is prohibited). MHPC's involvement during the last legislative session in pension reform, budgetary issues and the overhaul of the state's insurance laws has raised questions about whether the group has pushed up against that threshold.
Not even close, according to Dutson.
Nonetheless, it remains to be seen how much MHPC spends on the effort. The effort to restore EDR wil be well-funded. One ballot question committee, the Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund, is backed by progressive heavy hitters such as Donald Sussman, the hedge fund manager and husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.
The next round of campaign finance reports are due Oct. 5.
LePage makes a funny
Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz has written several "open letters" to LePage. The governor, of course, probably hasn't enjoyed them.
In one instance LePage has written back.
Nemitz told WGAN 560 on Friday that LePage sent him an 8- by 10-inch photo of himself, a set of darts and a note. According to Nemitz, the governor wrote that the next time Nemitz wanted to write something negative about LePage, he should instead consider tossing the darts at his photo.