Sara Gideon, Paul LePage and Stephen King are among the many diverse names popping up as potential challengers to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2020
Centerpiece

Though the 2020 election is still 18 months away, speculation abounds over whether U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will be re-elected again – and who might be lining up from right, left and in-between to unseat her.

It’s a momentous race for Collins, the state of Maine and our country. Having served in the Senate for nearly a quarter century, she’s now Maine’s elder stateswoman on the national stage. But that stage has changed markedly in recent years, as has Collins’ role – and, in many cases, the ways her audience – the voters – view her performance.

Pundits and pols already are trying to predict the trajectory of this race because its outcome has enormous ramifications for both Maine and the country, potentially shifting the balance of power in the upper chamber. (Collins and Colorado Republican Cory Gardner are seen as key must-have pickups if Democrats hope to retake majority.)

No question, it’s early. “Only an idiot would write about it at this point,” veteran Maine political observer and columnist Al Diamon (who of course has done some advance prognostication of his own) quipped to Pine Tree Watch.

Sea Change by Marina Schauffler

A bird’s-eye view could be transformative

A bird’s-eye view could be transformative. Mainers can help protect vulnerable plant and animal species by adopting a new way of thinking about landscaping that emphasizes ecological health instead of manicured appearances

On Mother’s Day, I received a surprise gift. In the peach tree just outside our kitchen, an eastern bluebird and Baltimore oriole alighted simultaneously. It was approaching dusk, and the departing sun lit up the brilliant hues of each bird.

That fleeting illumination came the same week as a devastating report warning that humans – in their dramatic alteration of landscapes – are jeopardizing the survival of up to 1 million plant and animal species, “many within decades, more than ever before in human history,” according to the United Nations-supported Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which prepared the 1,500-page report.

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of “The Sixth Extinction,” summarized the report’s key message this way: “The authors trace two diverging trend lines: one upward sloping, for people, and one sloping downward, for everything else…. How long can the two trend lines continue to head in opposite directions?”

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The Maine Trust Project

Maine Trust Project: Dona Emerson

INSTALLMENT 10: BOBBY BERGERON

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For Bobby Bergeron, trust can depend a lot on where you live and how comfortable and confident you are with yourself.

Get to Know Bobby Bergeron

Maine Trust Project: Dona Emerson

INSTALLMENT 9: DONA EMERSON

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Dona Emerson picks up hitchhikers. Most people, especially women, have been schooled in the dangers of giving strangers a ride, and Dona was no exception. “My (85-year-old) mother,” she said, “would kill me if she knew how many I’ve picked up.”

And yet, she still does it.

Why? Because Dona Emerson understands the importance of reaching out to people to create connections, and she values the role of trust in that endeavor.

Get to Know Dona Emerson

Maine Trust Project: Deon Lyons

INSTALLMENT 8: DEON LYONS

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Deon Lyons has cancer. It’s advanced and the outlook is anything but cheery. But he’s not letting that get him down. His attitude is not surprising given one of his favorite words is “opportunity.”

“Opportunity” is a much better way of looking at what life has handed you then, say, “challenging,” which is the word most people would use to describe what he has faced over the course of his life.

Get to Know Deon Lyons

Maine Trust Project: Amanda Huotari

INSTALLMENT 7: AMANDA HUOTARI

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When physical comedian Amanda Huotari was about 10 years old, in her hometown of South Paris, she saw an ordinary man transform himself.

You could argue that this man – the late master mime artist Tony Montanaro – was anything but ordinary. But, alone on the stage, dressed totally in white, without props, there was nothing to suggest what was about to happen.

Before Amanda’s young and amazed eyes, and without uttering a word or sound, he morphed from human-ness to rooster-ness.

Get to Know Amanda Huotari

Maine Trust Project: Joseph Reagan

INSTALLMENT 6: JOE REAGAN

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Joe Reagan was just 22, a new graduate of Norwich University (a private military academy in Vermont) and had just completed 10 months of training as a second lieutenant in the Army when he arrived in Afghanistan for his first tour there with the 10th Mountain Division.

As a leader of a platoon of 28 men (women weren’t allowed in combat roles at the time) that scouted locations in advance of the rest of the division, he felt “extremely underqualified” for the role, he says. He was in a place that was unlike anything the Massachusetts native had experienced before.

Get to Know Joseph Reagan

Maine Trust Project: Myron M. Beasley

INSTALLMENT 5: MYRON BEASLEY

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When Myron Beasley moved to Maine 11 years ago to take a position teaching African American studies and American cultural studies at Bates College in Lewiston, he was determined to reach beyond the borders of the Bates campus to make connections with people in his new community.

As someone who has lived in and traveled to many places across the globe – Myron grew up in Israel, was schooled in Europe and the United States, and has done ethnographic field work in Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, and the United States, including here in Maine – he knows how to create community wherever he is.

Get to Know Myron M. Beasley

Maine Trust Project: Marie Harnois of Jackman

INSTALLMENT 4: MARIE HARNOIS

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Four years ago – during the “coldest December ever” – Marie Harnois found herself doing something she couldn’t have imagined before: installing hoses to collect sap from sugar maple trees.

If you didn’t count the time as a child when she’d helped a friend’s family with their 30 buckets, Marie had not run a maple sugaring business before, and yet, here she was trying to do just that – and freezing her fingers in the process.

Get to Know Marie Harnois
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

INSTALLMENT 3: JOE BLACK

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Joe Black is a man living his dream. With a light in his eyes, a quick smile and a sense of humor that invites you in, he stocks shelves and engages customers at Renys department store on Front Street in Bath. He’s been doing his dream job for more than 20 years and says it’s the perfect job for him.

“I’m a firm believer that there are different kinds of dreams,” he said. “Some people want to be rock stars. Some people … want to be president. These are big, huge dreams – and big, huge dreams are awesome – but there’s nothing wrong with little dreams.”

Get to Know Joe Black
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

INSTALLMENT 2: MIKE DOUGLAS

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Finding common ground and engaging in civil conversations about important issues facing our communities, our state, our country and our world can seem elusive, if not sadly impossible.

In our second installment of "The Maine Trust Project", we speak with Mike Douglas of Augusta, for whom trust is about wholeheartedly investing in relationships, believing he'll get out of them what he puts into them.

Get to Know Mike Douglas
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

INSTALLMENT 1: MARY BETTERLEY

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Every day, 83-year-old Mary Betterley and her border terrier Raymond, aka, The Mayor, walk down the hill from their condo in Damariscotta to Main Street. Having lived in town for 40 years, Mary is greeting or greeted all along her way by most of those who are out and about.

Trust, for Mary, is a default position – she trusts unless given a reason not to. This attitude extends even to taking a risk with her life, as she did at age 65, when she found herself placing her toes on the edge of Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge at A.J. Hackett’s Bungy Centre outside Queenstown, New Zealand.

Get to Know Mary Betterley

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