It's difficult to believe this twisted wreckage was once a powerful political party, capable of completely dominating Maine government. To view the sad remains left in the wake of bitter infighting among its hardcore factions that rendered it incapable of winning elections is a lesson in the dangers of hubris. Not to mention the consequences of rampant stupidity.
The Republican Party? No way. I’m referring to the Democrats. Next year’s Democrats, that is.
I can understand your confusion. The GOP is clearly in disarray after blowing the 2012 legislative campaign. It has a governor who is slightly less popular than deer ticks. It changes chairmen more frequently than a teenager on energy drinks changes television channels. It has almost no base in the southern part of the state and is on shaky ground in the north, east, west, and central parts.
But Republicans have a solid grip on the US Senate seat that will be on the 2014 ballot, with incumbent Susan Collins facing no serious (or even laughable) opposition from within her party or without. The GOP also has a fighting chance next year of taking the 2nd Congressional District seat, currently held by Democrat Mike Michaud, who’s likely to run for governor. There’s no reason to think the elephant party won’t be competitive in state Senate races, and it’s tough to believe it could do any worse than the status quo in the state House.
Republicans have a few problems — mostly of the kind that rhymes with Mauler Rage — but they’re all sort of petty compared to those faced by the Democrats.
For instance, the donkey party has nothing that remotely resembles a credible candidate to oppose Collins. When she trounces whatever schlub the desperate Dems put up in 2014, it will mark 26 years since that party has won a Senate contest. Lots of eligible voters weren’t even alive when a Maine Democrat last held that post, and even a lot of those who were probably can’t recall his name (hints: the Waterville native, who no longer lives in Maine, once served as majority leader, still accepts high-profile international assignments and shares a last name with Dennis the Menace).
But even if the Democrats concede the Senate race yet again, accept that they’ll soon have diminished numbers in the Legislature, face the possibility they’ll lose Michaud’s House seat and wonder how they could ever have picked Troy Jackson for a position in legislative leadership, they’re confronted by a graver concern:
Party infighting over contentious social issues may cost them next year’s gubernatorial election. And it may divide the Democrats so severely that they’ll be incapable of mounting serious challenges in races for many years to come.
The Democratic establishment is delighted at the prospect that Michaud will be the party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014, because the congressman has a moderate image. The Dem strategists think that will allow him to attract blue-collar votes in the 2nd District and pick up support from 1st District middle-of-the-roaders, who might otherwise defect to independent Eliot Cutler.
Trouble is that Michaud’s alleged moderation is mostly based on two factors: He sometimes casts anti-abortion votes, and he almost always opposes anything remotely resembling gun control.