Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Sweet nothings

Al Diamon

When it comes to the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Maine, the bigtime political knowers from away are all quite certain about the winner. These experts came to their nearly unanimous conclusions after maybe visiting Maine once or twice, sipping a couple of craft beers, having a nice lobster dinner at a fancy Portland restaurant and buying some moose turd earrings.

Obviously, that’s more than enough research.

In January, Roll Call did a piece on the outside money being used to attack incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins. The only Collins opponent worth a mention in the article was state House Speaker Sara Gideon.

Late in 2019, the Boston Globe informed us that Collins “is poised to face her most serious Democratic challenger ever – the Maine House speaker, who outraised Collins by more than a million dollars in the third quarter.”

Likewise, Politico called Gideon “formidable” and “battle-tested.” Bloomberg reported, “National Democrats have settled on Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon as their choice to take on Collins.” The Hill proclaimed, “Collins is facing off against Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who has the full-throated support of Democrats.”

It’s possible somebody’s throat is full of hooey.

Has the pundit class now been chosen to select our nominee for us? Or did I just miss the primary? No, a quick check with the Secretary of State’s Office confirms that Democrats will decide who runs against Collins at the polls on June 9. The SOS also confirmed that there are four announced candidates in that race. In addition to Gideon, they are Bre Kidman, a lawyer from Saco; Ross LaJeunesse of Biddeford, a former Google bigshot; and Betsy Sweet, a Hallowell lobbyist who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018.

While it’s true that the national Democratic establishment has endorsed Gideon, a strict reading of Maine law reveals the national Democratic establishment doesn’t get to vote in the primary. That means folks who actually live here could choose somebody else to take on Collins.

Is that likely? No, not particularly. A Colby College poll shows Gideon with a commanding lead in the primary, but a different result isn’t freakishly out of the question.

The first hint that Gideon might not win is that almost nobody is excited about her, because she’s an overly cautious example of old-school Dem thinking. Sort of Joe Biden with less brain fog. She skirts controversial issues like the Green New Deal or Medicare For All like they were dog poop on her rose-petal-strewn path to the nomination. It’s tough to find a Bernie Bro, a Warren rabbit or any Democrat younger than 40 who’s energized by the idea of replacing Collins with somebody who reminds them so much of Collins.

The second hint is that there’s stuff going on in Maine politics at the grassroots level that the national media couldn’t be bothered to examine. Admittedly, some of this isn’t particularly important, such as Kidman choosing a guillotine for her campaign logo. With no money and a campaign platform well to the left of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kidman is solidly positioned to be a nonfactor.

LaJeunesse is said to have money, but his base of support seems to be national LGBTQ groups and West Coast techies. There’s also the small problem that nobody in this state has ever heard of him.

That leaves Sweet, who’s been all but invisible to the keen outside observers of Maine politics. On a limited budget, she’s kept up a relentless campaign focused on activists turned off by the wimpy Gideon. This small group’s commitment to their left-wing causes is enormous. They’re the sorts of people who’ll go to party caucuses. The kind that get elected delegates to the state convention. And most importantly, the type that turns out to vote in primaries. They count for a lot more than their polling numbers indicate.

That might not be enough to prove the foreign pontificators wrong in anointing Gideon as the nominee. But then again it might.

And wouldn’t that be … er … sweet.

Don’t sugarcoat comments emailed to

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 Responses »

  1. Al, you missed an opportunity to talk about Gideon's Trumpet. Your readers might want to check out that book by columnist Anthony Lewis. Yes it is somewhat dated (1960s) but aren't we all. Yet it is one of the most readable books in the field of United States Supreme Court history and procedure. The issue it covers is the right to have an attorney represent you at a trial. Mr Gideon did indeed make some noise when he hand wrote his appeal from a Florida prison cell.

    Oh, and if Ms Gideon ever does some real proclaiming I hope you and other journalists will send up a flare.

  2. Gideon,,,
    Sure Winner Eh!!

    The National Democrats "have been/still are/will always be" clueless.
    They shoved everybody side in favor of Hillary ,, right?

    They sure know how to pick em!!

    And then wer have Pelosi to look at,,Gawd!!!

  3. TCHT -
    You’re very rude.

  4. Al you forgot about Gideon being investigated for campaign finance violations.
    Laura if you don’t like what people say you have the right not to read and comment too.

  5. There's also the matter of Gideon receiving laundered Russian campaign contributions

  6. Awww- Thanks got explaining that to me.

  7. I am not a Gideon supporter but I dont think she realized how dirty politics can get at this level. At the least she will leave with an education. As to the rest I did not vote for Hillary, not because she was a women but because I would be dealing with the same old s--t just a more radical version. Bernie or Trump both give you something different to look at. Trump is a mover and a shaker and says what he thinks, a rare treat in the political world. Bernie wants to level the field, today it seems if you want to take the chance out of "making it" you either have to work for the government or make enough bad decisions so the government supports you one way or another. Both make to many reasons to get any kind of change regardless of who it hurts. So costs and our public debt goes up and a few more of us say "WHY BOTHER". Trump has tried hard to bring back what we need to level the playing field in the world economy but what few are left that have good jobs, people we support and those whose portfolios are outside this country are stopping him. Some kind of change is needed in this country and mainstream politicians are simply not going to give it to us.If I dont think I will see a flat tax OR they wont let Trump change a few things to even the score then Bernie it is sooner or later.