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Maine Supreme Court Orders Election Officials to Rethink Wording Of Statewide Utility Referendum

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Maine’s Supreme Court has ordered election officials to create new wording for a statewide referendum that sought to dismantle the state’s largest private electric utilities. The state’s highest court called on local officials to replace the language with a new entity that would answer to voters.

“The secretary of state approved the wording for the November ballot question asking Mainers if they want to create a ‘quasi-governmental power company’ governed by an elected board to supplant existing utilities. Supporters of the proposal wanted it to be called a ‘consumer-owned utility,’ wording the secretary of state said was misleading,” Fox News reported.

“In its decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Monday did not impose specific wording but ruled most voters would be confused by the reference to a quasi-governmental power company. Critics say there’s no guarantee that prices would drop — and that they could grow. They said it would cost at least $13.5 billion to buy the utilities and that there would be protracted litigation,” the outlet added.

The ruling in Maine comes as the 2024 presidential election is inching closer.

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Last week, a national survey conducted by Fox News indicates that Trump is widening his lead in the Republican primary race.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is facing uncertainty among Democratic primary voters.

According to the survey released on Wednesday, Republican primary voters were presented with a list of 15 declared and potential candidates for the 2024 nomination. The results show that since February, Trump has doubled his lead and is now ahead of Ron DeSantis by 30 points (54%-24%). In comparison, the former President was only 15 points ahead of DeSantis last month (43%-28%).

“No one else hits double digits. Mike Pence comes in third with 6%, Liz Cheney and Nikki Haley receive 3% each, and Greg Abbott comes in at 2%. All others receive 1% support or less, and just 3% are unsure,” the network reported.

The survey reveals that Trump gained support among nearly every major demographic, except for white men holding a college degree, where DeSantis leads in this demographic by a margin of 12 points.

Within the subset of voters who supported Trump in the 2020 general election, 60% continue to support him in the Republican primary. Meanwhile, 25% back DeSantis, and 5% support Pence.

Regarding second choice preferences, Trump primary voters would select DeSantis, and DeSantis primary voters would reciprocate and choose Trump, Fox News noted regarding the survey results.

“The rumor that Trump is going to be indicted by the district attorney in Manhattan has helped him quite a bit among Republican primary voters,” Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts Fox News surveys with Democrat Chris Anderson, told the network.  “They view the case as politically motivated, and it reanimates feelings that Trump is still fighting forces they see as corrupt and out of control.”

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Trump is facing a legal case in New York about potential violations of federal campaign finance laws involving a suspected $130,000 payout ahead of the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

On the Democratic side, the survey shows that 52% of primary voters would prefer a presidential nominee other than Biden, which is similar to the percentage from last month (53%). However, the number of voters who want Biden to be the nominee has risen from 37% in February to 44%, Fox News reported.

“That 7-point bump comes from the president solidifying support among women (+8), white voters (+9), voters age 45+ (+10), and White voters with no degree (+11),” said the network.

“We haven’t seen much movement at all in attitudes towards Biden this past year, but what we have has been positive,” said Anderson. “He’s holding the line and slowly bringing more people into the fold.”

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Nevertheless, Biden’s current level of support is not comparable to what Trump received in February 2019, when 72% of registered GOP voters wanted him to remain as their nominee. Similarly, former President Obama enjoyed overwhelming support from 81% of Democratic primary voters in 2012.

Biden’s approval rating among registered voters is currently negative, with a 12-point difference between those who approve and disapprove (44%-56%). Among Democrats, his approval rating is close to a record low, with only 81% approving versus a previous low of 78% approval.

Although it is widely anticipated that Biden will seek re-election, he has yet to announce his candidacy.

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