The last time the Maine Democratic Party had a competitive candidate in a statewide political race was in 2006, when John Baldacci was re-elected governor. And that was hardly a landslide. Even with Baldacci's incumbency, he got barely 38 percent of the vote.
Since then, not only has no Democrat won a contest for the US Senate or the governorship, none has managed to garner the support of so much as 40 percent of the electorate. With the exception of Baldacci, the most recent Dem to even come close in a statewide vote was Joe Brennan in his 1996 bid for the Senate. The last donkey party member to actually win something was George Mitchell, when he ran for re-election to the Senate back in 1988.
In 2012, the Democrats seem intent on maintaining that glorious tradition established by such party standard-bearers as Tom Connolly, who got 12 percent of the vote for governor in 1998; Jean Hay Bright, who lost her race for the US Senate by more than a three-to-one margin in 2006; or Libby Mitchell, who couldn't break the 20 percent barrier in her 2010 gubernatorial bid.
To keep that streak going, the Democrats this year are offering the public a selection of primary candidates for the US Senate of such little consequence that I'm surprised Chipman Bull (who earned checkmarks on less than 23 percent of the ballots cast in the 1984 2nd District congressional race) hasn't jumped in. At least Bull has an excuse. He's been dead since 1996. Nevertheless, in this field, he'd still be viable.
Having to choose a senatorial contender from among the likes of Cynthia (I use my political action committee to pay myself to blog) Dill, Matthew (I'm not like the other candidates because I live in the 2nd District and I like guns) Dunlap, Jon (I'm more liberal than Ethan Strimling and more pro-windmill than Angus King) Hinck, and Benjamin (I think we should bomb Iran and repeal Obamacare) Pollard isn't going to be an easy task. Nor is figuring out how to sell the voters on whichever one of these third-stringers somehow manages to prevail in the June primary.
Fortunately, the people now in charge of what once was the party of Ed Muskie have decided there's no good reason to do that. The Democrats, in the wake of Republican US Senator Olympia Snowe's announcement that she'd call it quits rather than seek another term, have already decided they're taking a pass on this election, conceding the center-left vote to former Governor King, an independent.
They're not tempted by that open Senate seat.
They're not enticed by the prospect the GOP may nominate an unelectable right-winger or a severely damaged moderate.
They're not fired up about helping their party hang onto control of the Senate.
They just don't dare to run against King.
So, they'll nominate one of the above-mentioned doofuses, make some sort of perfunctory effort at campaigning for their designated loser (suggested slogans: Vote for Hinck 'cause he don't stink; Dill will get us out of this pickle; Dunlap: mostly because he's from the 2nd District; We disagree with Pollard on nearly everything of importance but you might at least consider voting for him anyway — or not) and let this one slide.