New Independent in Maine’s State House

Taken from The Lincoln County News:

The margin in the House is now down to 74 Democrats and 73 Republicans, with one Green Party member and three Unenrolled, after the announcement Monday by Biddeford Rep. Joanne Twomey that she is leaving the Democratic Party, at least for now.

“I’m not leaving the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has left the people of Maine,” said Twomey, who is known for her fiery speeches from the House floor on behalf of the state’s poorest residents.

“People don’t have a living wage. They don’t have healthcare. You can talk about Dirigo all you want. That’s not helping my constituents,” she said, because they don’t have the money to pay for it. “It’s our obligation to say ‘the emperor has no clothes on.’”

She also criticized the tax reform package passed earlier this year that increased education aid with the promise it would reduce property taxes.

“We promised tax reform, and we didn’t do it. We don’t have the courage to do the things that we say,” Twomey said.

House Speaker John Richardson of Brunswick said, “I’m not surprised given her level of dissatisfaction she’s expressed for some time.”

Richardson said Twomey’s decision would not change the way he conducts business on the House floor because Twomey’s “been voting the way she’s been voting for some time.”

Twomey twice voted against the Democratic budget package earlier this year - first opposing a plan to borrow more than $400 million to balance the books and then against doubling the tax on cigarettes - boosting it to $2 a pack.

“The budget bothered me and the fact we were going to borrow $420 million and my grandchildren were going to be paying it back,” Twomey said. “Then plan B. Instead of having the courage to tax those people who aren’t paying their fair share… we go to the smokers. They go to the people who have the least, who have no voice.”

Twomey now joins former Democratic Rep. Tom Saviello of Wilton, who decided to leave the party in July, and independent Rep. Dick Woodbury of Yarmouth, the original Unenrolled in the 122nd Legislature.

Twomey agreed nothing much will change with her decision.

“Nothing will change. I’ll do the same thing. I didn’t have any leverage being a Democrat. You don’t have any leverage unless you’re willing to compromise,” she said. “If I have to act like a Republican in order to get elected, what good is being in the party?”

Richardson said he respected Twomey’s choice, but questioned why Twomey would turn her back on the things Democrats have passed in her seven years in the House.

He cited Dirigo Health insurance, expanding Medicaid, increasing aid to education, boosting enrollment in community colleges, tax reform and protecting the environment.

“I don’t understand how one walks away from those accomplishments,” he said.

29 Responses to “New Independent in Maine’s State House”

  1. IndiPol Says:

    So if one more Dem seat changes (resignation, death, party affiliation) then the three-four representatives hold the Speakers/majority positions in their hands? Interesting. James Jeffords-esque!

  2. undercover_ararchist Says:

    The Republicans would still not have the majority because the Green and two former Democrats are to the left of the Dems; I don’t know about the independent.

    John Eder is still the only Green in the state house. Are there any Libertarians?

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