Politics & Other Mistakes: Over before it started

7 mins read

Al Diamon

It’s finished.

The gubernatorial candidates can cancel all remaining campaign appearances. The debate organizers can forget about renting halls and setting up public-address systems. The state’s television stations can kiss that lucrative last-minute political advertising goodbye. And pundits such as myself can find something else to blather on about for the next five weeks (I’m thinking gardening tips, foliage reports and the first chapter of my memoir titled “My Night of Lust With Lady Gaga and Republican State Chairman Charlie Webster”).

Because this race is done.

GOP nominee Paul LePage is going to be the next governor of Maine.

Not because LePage is the best candidate. In this contest, there is no best candidate (although there’s a heated battle for worst).

Not because LePage has run a good campaign (good campaigns don’t let their candidates swear at reporters, lie repeatedly and ineptly, change positions on a whim and have spouses who live in other states).

And not even because most people want LePage to be governor (he’s not going to receive much more than 40 percent of the vote, even if he avoids all serious blunders between now and Nov. 2 – which is unlikely).
LePage will win because his supporters have made up their minds. They’ve – please take your choice of clichés – drunk the Kool-Aid, followed the other lemmings off the cliff, sent their life savings to a Nigerian prince or bet heavily on the Boston Red Sox to win the 2010 World Series.

As far as they’re concerned, all that negative stuff about their boy is being generated by a conspiracy of liberal politicians, liberal journalists, liberal elitists and… uh… liberals.

No need to pay attention to those trumped-up charges that – if they were leveled at any other politician – would cause this Tea Party-saturated group to overflow with outrage at that swine’s dishonesty, hypocrisy and unfitness to hold public office.

These true believers aren’t going to be persuaded that LePage isn’t the answer to not only all the state’s problems, but also to all their personal issues, ranging from an inability to balance a checkbook to a tendency to be fired for drinking, smoking dope and dozing off while on the job. He’ll make everything – everything! – all right.

That leaves Democrat Libby Mitchell and independents Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott in a difficult position (although not as difficult as the one Lady Gaga, Charlie Webster and I got into). If LePage faced a single opponent, that candidate would have a shot at picking up most of the votes from the 60 percent of the population that thinks LePage is a hot-headed whackjob with a tenuous grasp of the reality.
Well, not if it’s Scott. He’s got whackjob issues of his own. And probably not Moody. His campaign bus seems to have sprung a leak in the political-smarts tank. But Cutler and Mitchell might manage to capture a majority if either were the sole alternative. But that’s not going to happen, so LePage is cruising to victory.

Which, oddly enough, could be bad news for other Republicans.

Take, for example, Jason Levesque. He’s running for Congress in Maine’s 2nd District against incumbent Democrat Mike Michaud. As the GOP candidate, Levesque can probably count on most of the fanatics who turn out for LePage to also put a checkmark next to his name. That means he can expect to pick up about 40 percent of the vote. Which would be great if he were in a five-way race. But he’s not. His only opponent is Michaud, who’s likely to receive the support of the anti-LePage crowd, more or less by default.

As we’ve already seen, that segment constitutes 60 percent of the electorate, so it’s so long, Levesque.
It’s much the same in the state’s 1st District, where Republican Dean Scontras is trying to convince the Tea Partiers that he’s their guy by pretending to be more populist and less partisan than he was in his failed 2008 congressional primary bid. Scontras might be a good enough actor to pull this off with LePage’s constituency, which gets all squishy over nonpartisan populists. But, again, that leaves him with 40 percent of the vote, while first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree pulls in most of the rest.

LePage’s 40-percent ceiling could also have a similar impact on close state Senate and House races, perhaps enough of them to cost Republicans the legislative majorities they believe they’re so close to achieving.

So, like I said before, the gubernatorial election is over. LePage wins. No question.

As for the rest of the candidates with an “R” following their names on the ballot, the outcomes aren’t quite so clear-cut. They can drink more deeply from that questionable cup of tea. Or they can take a shot of something stronger and try to appeal to voters who may be dissatisfied with the way Democrats have run the state, but aren’t buying LePage’s antics.

Because, in reality, it ain’t over till it’s over.

I’m finished. Now, it’s your turn. E-mail me at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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  1. You didn’t say anything about LePage’s record as a successful businessman nor his success at running Waterville. I think that you, as a liberal (clearly), are struggling with the possibility that someone who seems to hold the values and fiscal beliefs of the majority of Mainers has a chance at becoming our next governor.

    Democrats, I think, have a good idea here and there, now and then. But let them spend money? Yikes!

  2. Dear Ann:
    Unless you possess special powers, I think it’s difficult to tell what constitutes “the values and fiscal beliefs of the majority of Mainers”.

  3. Successful business perhaps, but defined by buying junk cheap and selling it at a profit by offering employees minimum wage and no health care. I like a deal (if you can find one among the heaps of questionable value) at Marden’s like anybody else. However, you can’t be serious Ann D. Managing a junk store requires not much more skill than anyone who has ever held a yard sale.

    Success at running Waterville? Please speak with some of the folks who have to deal with “cost-cutting without a plan.” He’s left vital community services in the lurch and scrambling to pick up those messy details of implementing cuts.

    LePage is not a serious candidate. Tax fraud may be okay with some people, but that’s not okay with most of us. If he wants to cut corners, then he should stick with Marden’s and his own financial affairs.

  4. No special powers here. “Difficult” is the word; you’re right.
    The columnist talks about Lepage already being a winner, which says most voters must be thinking somewhat like him…..or, he must be communicating similar values, etc. to voters. At least, that’s how I read it. People vote for a candidate with shared values/beliefs/etc. The next public official will be the one who receives the most (majority of) votes.

  5. Mr. Haszko does not shop at Mardens, that’s very clear. Mardens has, over the years, presented tremendous buys to their customers. Well, Mr. Haszko is from out of state, so what should we expect but this silly opinion about Mardens.

  6. Dennis,
    Thanks! I had no idea. Wow, crazy. It’s like there’s absolutely no one to vote for. What will we do?

    I found an excellent quality piece of furniture at the Waterville Marden’s. There were some weird-looking pieces; I didn’t see much junk, though.

    Maybe you should apologize to yard sale holders.

  7. I have real concern about LePage wanting “Proven Science” for envirionmental regulations. This from a man that apparently believe evolution is a proven science?

  8. Correction: “This from a man that apparently doesn’t believe evolution is a proven science”?

  9. I’m still trying to erase the visual of Charlie Webster and you – fuggedabout Gaga.

    Running a business isn’t even close to governing, Ann. You can’t fire everyone to jack up the treasury and then run to the Bahamas with the money. You actually have to provide schools, roads, protective services, regulation, none of which are big profit makers. Most Republican pols know this, but they love confusing those in the Kool Aid line by equating making money with administering the shared responsibilities that are the reason for government.

  10. It’s a crying shame that Maine is so mismanaged that a large portion of its otherwise good people is perfectly to elect a proven liar, hothead, and coarse, vulgar man! His supporters are, by and large, thugs, and the otherwise good people of Maine are about to let that be the order of the day. For four years.

    Libby is a spender too large for my taste. Cutler is an egomaniac, and LePage is a liar, windsock, and flipflopper who is apt to lose his temper when confronted with the truth.

    Woe is Maine. The best candidate has 5% of the vote. A sad, yet telling commentary. The only consolation is that once he is finished fouling the Blaine House, we will have another two decades without having to listen to another Republican governor.

  11. I see Al is at it again. Drooling dribble. But it is entertaining I must say. He belongs on a stage somewhere.

  12. I’m voting for LePage. He knows how the state squeezes towns for money, has cut its subsidies for building roads, has cut their support of every imaginable town activity… Folks, that’s why are taxes are going up. Not because local officials are spending more, but because the State has cut back on the subsidies we (towns) receive. The unfunded state & federal mandates cost YOU..the taxpayer. But the State & Feds keep mandating.
    When the State spends in excess of $875 MILLION dollars a year on welfare, I shudder. How many roads could that build? How many bridges could be repaired or replaced? How many businesses could be enticed to come to Maine to provide JOBS for the people who need them?
    I’ll take a hothead over a mamby-pamby career politician who wasn’t even born in Maine. Obama screamed change. I think we Mainers need to scream the same thing.

  13. Dennis Haszko can’t let go of a mistake (along with all the other liberals in this state that can’t find more wrongdoings in his life) and makes Waterville sound like it’s going underwater.

    Waterville (one of only a handful of cities in Maine to vote against Susan Collins) sees something in LePage since they elected him “THREE” times. He cut taxes in that city every single year for 5 years in a row.

    And Mardens is hardly a junk store. It’s called surplus and salvage, locally owned in Maine and has 14 locations in the state. Paul increased their annual revenue 100% since 1996 to $100 million and you think the skill for this is similar to a yard sale?

    Lepage ran Waterville like a business with SUCCESS and whoever says it can’t be done with governing is full of bologna. Governing the other way has not worked in Maine or the US the last few decades, what makes you think it’s going to work now?

  14. As poor a rant as I have read from Al. Three in a row now. I may have to click elswhere as this one wasnt even a little funny. LePage will win big because he does have values MOST mainers have. I built my camp up north all from stuff I bought at Mardens. It was my first stop on the way up, and with a new wife and child on the way, Icould not have afforded to build it without mardens.Dont worry Bill, Haszco has no sway with any voters. His values are out of step with most everyone that live in his area of the state,which would explain the throttling he recieved when he ran for office. He’s just another liberal thats left his home state, after the libs screwed it up. and moved here to do the same. Lots of luck with that. Let him rant. Insulting yard sale owners and telling anyone who has bought anything at mardens they bought a piece of junk.?? Genius. Nice way to drive away any friends you have Dennis and make enemies. You really should think a bit before you hit the submit button. How do you walk around with all those holes in your foot? I say LePage takes 45 percent of the vote, which in a field of 5, is an enormous statement from the people of Maine. What a kick in the lip to liberals and wanna be royalty like Haszco hay?

  15. Yeah, steve whittier, maybe Haszko should choose a nom de guerre like “hozhed.”
    It’s interesting that you purport to find Al hilarious when he rags on those you disagree with, but not when he expresses the commonly held belief (by, as he correctly states, at least 60% of the state’s population) that LePage and his supporters are loco. Al has been conscientious in his even-handed bashing of all sides (sorry Ann, you’re wrong), so why don’t you try to be consistent as well?
    I would like to congratulate you though on completing a post without……………….using………….more……….periods………..than…………..letters.

  16. So Mindy thinks the majority Mainers are idiots and/or are being duped? OK, now I’ve heard everything.

    I like Nancy Porter’s remarks here and agree: “I’ll take a hothead over a mamby-pamby career politician who wasn’t even born in Maine.”

    Oh yeah and Dennis Haszko, I hold yard sales in Farmington and buy from Marden’s and do take offense to your “brilliant” remarks. No wonder no one voted for you.

  17. Dear hozhed:
    I still can’t fathom your math. 45% may be “an enormous statement”, but it’s not even most registered voters. Respectfully, your and Ann’s claimed knowledge of the pervasive values of most Mainers adds nothing to the debate. Even an opinion poll would be more fact-based than this statement and they cloud and detract from issues as well. Also, if your going to judge Maine values by votes, don’t look back. In short, the American people demand everyone put away their Ouija boards. This said, it takes alot more knowledge and time to run a store like Marden’s than a yard sale, That comment by Dennis was wrong. The employee pay and benefits comment by Dennis seems relevent. A manager’s treatment of his employees might be telling on how he would treat his constituents.

  18. Thanks “Goo.” I think I’ll change my name to “captain tea party” and argue with myself online. At least my arguments would stay on point.

    You almost convinced me that I never shop at Marden’s or like a yard sale. But, truth be told, I’m a cost-conscious, recyling, alternative energy loving , Trash-n-Treasures kind of liberal that has several Marden’s items around the house and several more yard sale treasures.

    Business and government are two different animals. One serves private interest to seek profit and gain at any cost, and the other serves the people for the benefit of all. Idealistic? Perhaps, when you consider the amount of corporate funding being shoveled into the so-called grass roots Tea Party “movement.”

    Rant some more. It won’t change the fact that the worst candidate is LePage and electing him would be a step backwards for Maine.

  19. Nice, Capt. Tea Party.
    I like the fact that – unlike hozhed – you didn’t try to go about the assumption of a screen name with a poorly executed, top secret transition. For a while (after my cajoling made steve whittier realize he was linking his real name to toddler-like online behavior, for all to see), there was a little steve, a little hozhed. But then steve just disappeared, as if he had suddenly, magically defeated his compulsion to dribble all over these threads. We all know that couldn’t be the case.

  20. I like to keep things simple…. 1. LePage is a “self-made” man. That is pretty rare in the world of politics and should mean something to us. 2. Waterville elected him three times, I guess they liked the results of his policies. 3. Marden’s is a great store option and has certainly helped my family out many, many times with a good bargain. I did not vote for him in the Primaries, but based on this man’s track record, I have no problem choosing him over all the other options we have.

  21. Dennis Haszko, you not only insulted yard sellers and Marden shoppers like myself, but you’ve also included yourself in this category. Genius.

    I agree with you here…..”rant some more”….you can’t even appologize when even the people commenting on here are that agree with some of your rhetoric are telling you you’re wrong.

    I understand and agree that business and government are two different animals…..that’s not what anyone here is saying. We’re saying government can be run similarly in issues such as budgets (don’t spend more than you make? hmmm…..novel idea, eh?), managing people, etc.

    Keep ranting…..that and the negative commercials are increasing LePage’s lead in the polls.

    Are you even sorry for what you said about yard sellers and Marden shoppers or even if you’re not, can’t you act like a politician and just say that you are? If you’re not, then say that too, but I doubt I’ll see it here.

  22. Seamus, there are 5 people running for the governors seat. What percentage of the votes would you think one person out of 5 can get?

  23. To our moderate friend who states the following:
    “This from a man that apparently doesn’t believe evolution is a proven science”?
    Why do they call it “The Theory of Evolution’ if it is proven science?

  24. Whoever prevails this November may well be a minority winner which would not be the first time that we wind up with a governor who couldn’t garner a majority of votes. Who knows whether multiple candidacies might become the norm? If so, I think the time has come to assure a majority winner by a simple run-off between the top two. Whether the backers of those who fail to make the cut sit out the finals would be there business, but the governor-elect would have won a majority nonetheless. Any one moving into the Blaine House knowing a majority of those casting votes approve can’t help but have a healthy outlook as to the term’s possibilities – certainly a better one than knowing most of the voters preferred someone else. Then the old saw of “majority rule” would reflect the truth of the matter.

    Some suggest that voters ranking the candidates in order of preference would do the same. That might require a more clear-headed and informed electorate than what campaigns seem to aim for these days (if ever).


  25. Concerned Citizen: I’m still searching for the insult I supposedly made. Have YOU even been to Marden’s?

  26. Dear hozhed:
    To clarify, when you say things like “LePage will win big because he does have values MOST mainers have”, it seems unsupported by anything but your personal belief. Without other evidence, I remain unconvinced this statement is reality or truth. And winning the election is not evidence because,,,
    There have been only 3 governors in the past 40 years who have garnered +50% of the vote (Curtis ’70; Brennan ’82; King ’98). How about a true majority rule? It would be interesting to see how the chances of “fringe” candidates would be effected if the election were run as follows: 1st round the candidate with the most votes over 50% wins. If no candidate receives +50% of the vote, the top two candidates compete in the second round. I think it would give greens and libertarians more voice in the process. Hell, it might even get more people to participate. Interesting for the presidential election as well. Don’t know what happens if there’s no majority after the second round. Coin toss sudden death overtime (careful with the response jokes, your guy might lose too) or each candidate gets shots from the 10 yard line. Oh yeah, and the election season can’t be any longer, if that’s even possible. Cheers.

  27. @Concerned Citizen:

    >>So Mindy thinks the majority Mainers are idiots and/or are being duped?
    No. I think that the “majority of Mainers” are going to vote for someone other than Paul LePage.

    I do think, though, that many Mainers have been blinded by their desire to have change in Augusta. That’s the same thing that drove Obama into office.

    >>“I’ll take a hothead over a mamby-pamby career politician who wasn’t even born in Maine.”
    And I’ll take an honest person who can control his anger over all of them. That person is not going to be elected, but I will not be a party to electing the liar with the uncontrollable guy who surrounds himself with thugs and blowhards, which is, coincidentally what the candidate appears to be. Let us speak again in 18 months. If I am wrong about the disaster about to hit us under a LePage administration, I shall happily apologize. And if you are wrong, what will we have?

  28. I am struck by the double standard which LePage supporters are showing in full bloom.

    I don’t care who you vote for. I only wish you LePage worshipers could be even-handed. Why not just say, “Yes, he is a lying, illiterate hothead whose city greeted sustainable development on his watch, but it’s better than the alternative..” Now, that would be even-handed and honest.

    Instead, LePage supporters try to bully everyone around them into voting for the liar while pretending that they are fair and correct.

    The idea that anyone who will not vote for LePage is a liberal is laughable. In what universe do conservatives leap before they look, endorse as conservative people who lie and cheat, not to mention curse at women WHILE THE CAMERA IS ROLLING?

    You are deluded if you think this pretender is any less of a flipflopper than John Kerry was.

  29. @Ethan Wilder: I also like to keep things simple…

    1. LePage is apparently as comfortable with a lie as he is with the truth. He has shown himself to be so.

    2. His duties as Waterville’s mayor is about 95% ceremonial. His biggest two jobs are apparently chairing town meetings and running to cry to the press.

    3. He should go back to Marden’s full time. He did a fine job there, and he wasn’t in a position to lie as much.

  30. Awww goo, Love to here from ya, you dont answer my mail, you dont call,.no birthday prez…….what did I do? Too many periods now huh? Darn! The liberal tag team of goo and Haszco is upon us. Help! I had dinner with LePage tonite. goo and Dennis, you should have been there. What nice people he, his wife and family are. Yeah, I met that evil tax cheat the press and libs try to make her out to be. Good luck.He is going to be a great governor regardless of your dribbling and wailing, name calling and general babble. By the way goo, nobody is at war here or an undercover agent, we are writing letters here, notes, comments, fiction from some.,Nom de plume would be the better pseudonym here, not nom de guerre. But who cares, back to the LePage thing, which is why we are all here. Go Paul!!!

  31. If one is to believe Al as I do. Then one should hedge their bets – as Paul Lepage and other wealthy Mainers
    have done – and move their real-estate investments, homes, and in most cases incomes to Florida. Because Maine is DOOMED!!!!

  32. Mr. Dennis Hazko,

    Well that said it for me….you won’t appologize for two reasons in my opinion:

    1) you don’t think you did wrong….possible….everyone on this board would disagree with you


    2) you know it’s wrong and you’re too stubborn and/or proud to do so and are just ignoring the request

    Either way, this just confirms why you’re not in office right now.

  33. Seamus, you make a good point about having a majority vote for our governor. Having a few run off election’s may be the answer, but people can only go to the polls so often. Seems like everyone and their brother or sister wants to be governor nowadays. These people slamming LePage are just whining, and they dont know the man. He isnt perfect, he has flaws, like all of us. Compared to the empty suits we have now in office, he is head and shoulders above, in my estimation. The libs will go on a huge negative campaign slamming him from all angles. Good. Let them fire broadside after broadside, it wont amount to jack. They are trying to stop a freight train full of taxpayers that have had enough, with their potato cannons. Fire at will.

  34. Thanks to Seamus and Hozhed for adding to the discussion about working out a method which will get to a majority winner. After checking a bit further, I’ll retract my remark about the ranking system as being too complicated and offer the suggestion that Maine adopt an instant run-off voting (IRV) by which the question will be settled with no additional vote needed. I agree that the time and expense needed work against an entirely new election. The real winners in that one would definitely be the operatives in the campaign industry.
    So here goes: the ballot is organized to allow each voter to rank the candidates for any given office in order of preference. If no candidate gets an absolute majority, the one with fewest first choice votes gets eliminated and those votes go the voters’ second choices. The process gets repeated until a winner is declared. San Francisco has used IRV since 2002, the first city or state to do so. Since then, eleven more cities, (including Memphis, Tenn. and Springfield, Ill.) and four states have passed legislation to allow IRV in local or state elections.
    The two major parties can be counted on to fight such a suggestion. If they agree on anything, it seems to be the resolve to make life as difficult as possible for nascent or smaller parties. They have always found agreement in discouraging other parties by such devices as “adjusting” financial minimums for certification upwards, thus making it proportionally difficult for them to field candidates. As a result, campaign dialogue is constricted; the voters get the same-old same-old. and little more. The election results requirements (5% of the vote in a statewide election) for permanent party status could remain where it is. The whole business of campaign finance would need a thorough overhaul to be sure, but “where there’s a will, ….”

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