In 2006, the GOP tried a new strategy called Let's Not Bother. The nominee was conservative kook Scott D'Amboise, who failed to attract even 30 percent of the vote. Two years later, the entertainingly unelectable John Frary did about as well. In 2010, Michaud sleepwalked through the campaign, but still beat Jason Levesque by 10 points, even in a year that saw Republicans win nearly everything else in the state.
Which brings us to 2012 and a rematch against Raye, who has spent much of the interim establishing himself as a voice for common sense in the state Senate, where he's currently the chief presiding officer. Since 2002, Raye has worked hard at converting his image from that of a Washington insider (he had been US Senator Olympia Snowe's chief of staff) to a Washington County insider (he and his wife run a mustard company in Eastport).
In '02, Raye seemed stiff and uncomfortable on the campaign trail — and occasionally as incoherent as Michaud (he once said he'd be like a "dog on a pant leg" in trying to attract federal development money to northern Maine — I assume he meant biting, not humping). Today, he's repressed his natural inclination to sound like an automaton ("We-must-be-vigilant-to-make-certain-Maine's-needs-receive-the-attention-they-deserve"). And he's raising sufficient money to be competitive.
Raye still has to overcome the LePage factor, the concern of some independents that Republican Governor Paul LePage is a bumbling knot-head, and those who support the governor's agenda, such as Raye, deserve to suffer for LePage's bull-headedness. Given the likelihood this will be a close race, it could swing on how effectively Raye can balance himself between those who love the guv and those who hate him so much they're willing to sacrifice Maine's best interests for two more years of Michaud's mediocrity.
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: Talking Politics
, Democrats, Republicans, Olympia Snowe, More