Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves to supporters during a campaign event on Sept. 18, 2015, in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waded into Portland politics on Thursday by releasing a video endorsing a ballot question that would raise the minimum wage and phase out a subminimum wage for tipped workers.

Essential background: The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee gave a boost to city progressives pressing an aggressive slate of referendums on the Nov. 8 ballot.

It includes the question that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $18 by 2025 and phase out the tipped minimum wage of $6.50. Currently, Portland’s minimum wage is $13. It is already on track to reach $15 if the question is shot down at the ballot box.

Other questions include a stronger mayoral position and new limits on short-term rentals, chiefly backed by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. In a recent speech, outgoing Mayor Kate Snyder said the questions are fueling polarization in the city.

The questions are up against a stiff campaign from business interests. This week, a $100,000 donation came into the opposition campaign from the National Association of Realtors, the Portland Phoenix reported. Uber and DoorDash, which would be affected by a minimum wage provision applied to independent contractors, each gave $50,000.

Key quote: “Too many people are being priced out of Portland and so many other places because they can’t afford both to live and work in that wonderful city,” Clinton said.

What’s underneath it: Clinton’s backing may come as a bit of a surprise to observers. Her 2016 presidential campaign at first suggested that the federal minimum should be raised to $12, but she later backed a $15 wage alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive challenger in that campaign who easily won the Maine caucuses.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...