System upgrade

Politics + Other Mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  March 14, 2014

For a small state like Maine to have any influence on national events, it has to elect exceptional people to the US House of Representatives. Unlike the 100-member US Senate, where arcane rules and an acute partisan split require respectful treatment even for members with the charisma of feral pigs, anybody in the 435-member House lacking superior political skills gets buried.

Which accounts for why, as he roams the state seeking votes for governor, Democratic US Representative Mike Michaud leaves a trail of freshly turned loam.

It’s not that Michaud, who’s represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District for more than a decade, is completely worthless. In a chamber rife with extremist whackjobs, his amiable bumbling barely rises to a level worth criticizing. Or noticing.

With the pedestrian Michaud moving on to either the Blaine House or obscurity or both, Maine is presented with an opportunity to upgrade its delegation. Unfortunately, both major parties are offering downgrades.

In his long career in politics, Michaud rarely said anything stupid, mostly because he rarely said anything. This approach might better serve Democrat Troy Jackson, the state Senate majority leader currently seeking election to the 2nd District seat. Jackson makes memorable comments only when he makes dopey ones, having adopted the style preferred by many professional athletes and frequent posters on the As Maine Goes website.

Last month, after the US Department of Labor released a report critical of Republican Governor Paul LePage’s meddling in unemployment cases, Jackson called for the governor’s impeachment. It’s not clear whether Jackson knew the word means indicting a public official for serious misconduct, with one source suggesting the candidate thought it had something to do with pelting LePage with peaches.

In any case, Jackson edged away from that demand shortly thereafter, allegedly because peaches aren’t a Maine crop. Rumors he wanted the governor impotatoed couldn’t be confirmed.

This isn’t the first time Jackson has reacted without checking with his brain. Or somebody’s brain. In 2013, he sponsored a bill to amend Maine’s Constitution to deny pensions to governors who served only one term. He made no secret of the measure being meant to punish first-termer LePage, whose re-election chances remain iffy, because the governor advocated restricting state workers’ pensions. “[A]t a time when Governor LePage and others are asking state employees to sacrifice,” Jackson said, “even at the expense of their own pensions which were promised to them when they signed their contracts, the governor should be held to the same standard.”

Or at least imappled.

Jackson’s bill went nowhere — even with Democrats.

Dems can’t claim a monopoly on vindictive over-reactions by under-qualified and overly ambitious would-be representatives. That’s because the GOP is burdened with Bruce Poliquin — a former state treasurer who’s run expensive, self-financed campaigns for governor and US Senate without a hint of success.

Poliquin lives in the 2nd District in the same sense that Donald Trump lives in a cardboard box by a sewage outlet. If, by some unlikely occurrence, voters send him to Washington, they won’t have to worry about him getting homesick for northern Maine.

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 See all articles by: AL DIAMON