Loving the enemy

Politics + Other Mistakes  
By AL DIAMON  |  September 5, 2012

Nobody hates Republicans more than other Republicans.

Ron Paul's supporters in Maine hate Mitt Romney's backers, and the sentiment is returned in kind.

Tea Party members hate the state's "establishment" Republicans (defined as anybody holding a position of authority, no matter how inconsequential, for more than half an hour). Actual establishment Republicans are much too refined to stoop to hating, instead holding the Tea Partiers in moderate disdain.

Newly elected members of the GOP state committee hate its chairman, Charlie Webster, for referring to them as "wingnuts." Webster claims he doesn't hate his detractors, although he does support rule changes that would require them to be bound and gagged during meetings. The chairman would also be allowed to prod them with a sharp stick.

Republican US Senator Olympia Snowe is thoroughly miffed at GOP US Senate candidate Charlie Summers for failing to support her last year, when she was under assault by the Tea Party kooks. Summers hasn't displayed that sort of animosity toward Snowe, but that could be because he avoids taking strong stands on much of anything.

And moderate members of the GOP aren't fond of Republican Governor Paul LePage, fearful his frequent outbursts over inconsequential matters will cost the party legislative seats in November. LePage, who thinks moderation is a gateway drug leading to socialism, keeps on talking just to annoy them.

All this raises an important question: If Republicans detest each other, who do they like? The answer:

Cynthia Dill.

Wait. That can't be right. Dill, the Democratic nominee for US Senate, is an extreme leftist and a dingbat (could somebody please turn off the redundancy alarm). She holds liberal positions that are totally at odds with virtually everything in the GOP platform (although, she and Ron Paul both want to legalize marijuana). Dill is so far out of step with mainstream Mainers that polls show even most Democrats aren't going to vote for her.

Why then would a group of influential Republicans in Washington, DC, spend almost $72,000 on TV ads trying to convince voters in this state that Dill would make a terrific US senator? Why would that GOP group or another much like it be squandering additional thousands of dollars on message-testing polling to see if there are any issues that might make Dill palatable to the electorate? (OK, how about if I held a gun to your puppy's head? Would you support her then?)

The answer to these questions is sort of complicated, so pay close attention.

The one thing most Republicans hate more than their fellow Republicans is the likelihood that independent Angus King will become Maine's next US senator. Under normal circumstances, GOP strategists would attempt to thwart King's ambitions by promoting their own candidate. Except their own candidate is Summers, who's already run three unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in the state's 1st District, while compiling percentages of the vote that look like the average female bust measurement at a Zumba class.

The theory Republicans are operating under is that the only chance they have of defeating King is if they can convince at least 10 percent of his current supporters to defect to Dill. That would put her in the high teens and reduce him to around 40 percent. Then, if by some miracle, Summers could attract an additional 10 percent from out of thin air (maybe if he got down on his knees and begged Snowe; rolled Ron Paul's people some quality joints; promised the Tea Party that if he ever took any firm positions, they'd be irrational ones), he'd still lose to King by a couple of percentage points.

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