Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Looking for the next bad thing

Al Diamon

Rick Bennett isn’t going to be Maine’s next governor.

Too bad.

Bennett is probably what the state needs: a fiscal conservative with common sense and no pathological aversion to compromise. In other words, he’s 10 percent like current Gov. Paul LePage and 90 percent not.

One other difference: Bennett is pro-choice, LePage pro-life. With the U.S. Supreme Court likely to overturn or restrict Roe v. Wade, abortion is going to be a hot-button issue in the 2018 gubernatorial contest. In the Republican primary, where nearly all voters want it outlawed, there won’t be much tolerance for a candidate who believes otherwise.

That renders Bennett – an experienced and media-savvy pol, who retired last month as chairman of the Maine GOP, served as president of the state Senate and ran a credible campaign for Congress – unelectable.

Winning elections in this state used to be about attracting support from the center of the ideological spectrum, a now-mythical territory much like Shangri-La or an open table at Fore Street restaurant on a Saturday night. The new reality is everyone is polarized, fearful that giving any ground will allow fanatics (defined as anybody with different views) to rampage into power and trash every ideal you hold dear.

I can’t imagine how they developed such an outlandish phobia.

In any case, it spells curtains for Bennett and other moderates who dare enter the Republican scrum next year. No wonder GOP U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is considering abandoning her party label and running for governor as an independent.

This altered landscape also blocks the path of state Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta (pro-choice, anti-LePage) and former House minority leader Josh Tardy of Newport (shows flashes of rationality, works as a lobbyist), as well as nonstarters like Deril Stubenrod of Clinton (unknown, spells name funny).

That leaves the GOP with three choices: 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, health and human services commissioner Mary Mayhew and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, all of whom are unwaveringly conservative and utterly unacceptable to most voters in southern Maine.

On the Democratic side, it’s even more muddled. The merest hint of Clintonism is tantamount to treason. The minimum requirement is now a fiery socialist populism that’s distinguishable from Donald Trump’s approach only in that it costs more and annoys Mexico less.

Attorney General Janet Mills is the nominal frontrunner. Mills gets points with party stalwarts for standing up to LePage, but opposed legal pot and is suspected of harboring centrist sentiments. Like Bennett, Mills wouldn’t make a bad governor, but she’d make a bad primary candidate.

Adam Cote ran for the 1st District seat back in 2008. Since then, Cote may have done something to keep his name in the public consciousness, but it escaped my notice. A lawyer from Sanford, he used to be a middle-of-the-road Dem. If he still is, he’s out of touch with the times.

Adam Lee comes from a family with deep roots in Democratic politics. He’s all over the tube in commercials for his car dealerships. He has excellent hair. None of that matters to radical leftists.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree might run if she can figure out a way to win even a handful of votes in northern Maine. Former House Speaker Mark Eves got his butt kicked repeatedly by LePage. As a political resume, that’s a little thin. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is pro-gun, which ain’t gonna play in the Dem primary. Former Senate minority leader Justin Alfond is liberal enough to win the nomination – and lose the general election by landslide numbers. Lucas St. Clair is politically savvy (he got his mom’s land next to Baxter State Park declared a national monument) and has financial backing (his mom is rich). But his mom is Roxanne Quimby, and nobody likes her.

Anybody else?

Oh yeah, that guy who swore off running for governor, telling the Portland Press Herald he was “taking a vow of abstinence.” Someone should have told him condoms work better, because independent Eliot Cutler is again bloated with gubernatorial ambitions. Unfortunately, his moderate base no longer exists, so his third bid for the Blaine House looks like an abortion.

I didn’t forget independent Shawn Moody. I just ignored him. Others who deserve similar treatment can be reported to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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11 Responses »

  1. Susan Collins abandoned her party LONG ago, if indeed she ever represented it. She's a RINO to the bone, and everybody knows it. Hard to imagine the Republican Party was ever so desperate to have a candidate with an (R) after their name win that it supported one who can normally be depended upon to vote against them. Olympia Snowe was no different.

  2. "Abortion is going to be a hot-button issue in the 2018 gubernatorial contest. In the Republican primary, where nearly all voters want it outlawed, there won’t be much tolerance for a candidate who believes otherwise."?
    Please show us any statistic that backs up your "nearly all Maine Republican voters want abortion outlawed" comment, or take it back, if you possess any integrity. Lefties love to claim that it's true, but it never has been. Most lefties, and the Democratic Party, want abortion on demand, period, at any point in the pregnancy, nothing less, most Republicans want late-term abortions regulated, and no Partial-Birth Abortions, which is hardly the same as no abortions. We're looking for Common Sense and Common Decency. And please, don't play the old Leftie "All Republicans are dead-set against abortion even in cases of Rape or Incest!" card. We all know better.

  3. Dang.. the state of Maine is screwed....

  4. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are people that understand how the process is SUPPOSED to work. "Common Sense and Common Decency" describes them very well.

  5. I guess I was a "Rino". I was a Republican for 20 years or more and I still vote for some. When the "Compassionate Conservatives" were discarded for the "Tea Party" (I've got mine you can't have any), I left the party. I always thought moderate Democrats and Republicans could get more done.

    Also no one wants to have an abortion even in very difficult situations. Most pro-choice people have children and never would abort.

  6. I couldn't agree with A.P. more. As a Christian Conservative, it is unclear to me why anyone would be anything but pro-life. This country is out of control and until we return to the Christian values that this country was founded for, then we are doomed. The Bible is very clear about many things. Instead of fighting leadership with protests and violence, why not work with them to bring this country back to where it once was. It's funny how much the haters hate LePage but someone he was reelected for a second term.

  7. Sadly unless a real Republican crawls out of he woodwork Collins will be our next governor.

  8. Few would have believed LePage could win. Maybe people realize there has to be some check on Democrat politicians.

  9. HahahaLOL!!! i like frannies comment!

  10. Well, look where the wonderful Republicans have put us -- most of the time they started a war and then the Democrats had to end up trying to fix the budget after the Republicans stole all the Social Security money. And it's the Republican Congress who wants to end your measly Social Security check and Medicare. Go ahead and support them -- you'll find out

  11. Bennett and LePage seem to get along well enough. On a personal level LePage's position regarding abortion might be summed up with his observation that 18 children far exceeded the parental talents of ma and pa LePage, but he wouldn't know which sibling to designate for death.

    Leaving aside the political considerations, the policy problem is not whether to abolish abortion, but how to enforce abolition. Thinking of Prohibition, it appeared that a majority of the voters were willing to go along with a dry law but had not appetite for effect enforcement. I'm guessing the same problem will arise from prohibiting abortion.

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