Maine Houes makes room for more independent lawmakers

Maine House makes room for more independent lawmakers

 

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A small but growing number of independent state lawmakers who have weakened Democrats' hold on the House hope to promote compromise as independents seek to gain ground nationally in 2018.

The Maine House has its highest number of Independent and third-party members recorded in the last two decades, and several such lawmakers say they hope to maintain their individual independence while gaining a stronger voice in debates. ...

Rep. Henry Bear said Maine residents are issue-driven, not "strictly tied to Republicans or Democrats or unenrolled."

"Mainers for the most part are frugal, very conservative and also they're very independent," said Bear, a non-voting tribal member who represents the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and is running for Congress.

Two Republican representatives and three Democratic representatives left their parties this year in addition to Bear. They join two unenrolled House members who ran as independents. Two — Bear and Rep. Ralph Chapman — registered as Maine Green Independents and say they're among the highest-ranking Green lawmakers nationally.

The lawmakers' reasons for leaving the major parties vary from frustration over partisanship and the influence of lobbyists and corporate donations on Maine policy-making to discontent at Republican and Democratic lawmakers' steps to undo, change and delay several laws approved by voters at the polls in 2016.

Chapman said he's concerned that Democratic statehouse leaders value loyalty to political donors over the common good. ...

Legislative leaders recently approved a request to provide a room at the statehouse for the independent and third-party lawmakers and their staffs. Independent lawmakers said they plan to caucus daily. ...

 

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