Ways not to lose

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  April 12, 2006

Democrats want to continue their control of the Maine Legislature after the November elections, so you might expect the party to attempt to convince voters its candidates are not free-spending, business-hating, criminal-coddling, socialized-medicine-loving, same-sex-marrying abortionists who wantonly violate campaign-spending laws and then pretend they didn’t realize their activities could be interpreted by over-zealous regulators as sleaze of a highly creative variety.

Republicans seeking to seize a majority in the state House or Senate for the first time in more than a decade could decide to shed their image as hypocritical obstructionists committed to preserving a warped version of traditional Maine values by allowing air and water befoulers, forest rapists, corporate sprawlers, gun nuts, homophobes, and crazed theocrats intent on reversing both Roe v. Wade and the process of evolution to frolic unfettered, while the GOP pays the same attention to campaign-donation rules as the Democrats.

But for either party to complete such an extreme makeover would require resorting to that most sacred of political principles:


And that’s not necessary. Because in most legislative districts, frontrunners can admit to any indiscretion short of a fondness for Osama bin Laden and still win.

Ethical issues? Independent state representative Tom Saviello of Wilton has a pulp truck full of them relating to conflicts between his job at a paper mill and his legislative role in dealing with environmental concerns at that mill. Saviello is expected to breeze to victory in November.

More ethical issues? Democratic state senator Lynn Bromley of South Portland has combined her business office with her elected office by using her taxpayer-financed legislative newsletter to reprint a newspaper story that gave favorable mention to a company she co-owns. That company also got a grant from the Maine Technology Institute, a quasi-public agency overseen by the legislative committee Bromley chairs. Republicans concede they have only an outside chance of knocking her off.

Contact-with-reality issues? GOP state representative Gary Moore of Standish spent the current session trying to raise the governor’s pay, even though the governor (and just about everybody else) doesn’t want a bigger check. Neither party lists Moore as in trouble at the polls.

Of the 151 seats in the Maine House, nearly two-thirds won’t change partisan hands this year, experts on both sides agree, regardless of the current officeholders’ moral or mental shortcomings. Another three dozen races are unlikely to result in switches, so long as the favored candidates avoid exceeding acceptable limits of incompetence or illegality. Only 18 House seats are actually in play, and just six of those races feature incumbents.

Given how difficult it is for a sitting representative to lose a re-election bid, one has to admire the efforts of Democrats Robert Duchesne of Hudson, Walter Ash of Belfast, and Edward Mazurek of Rockland, as well as Republicans Howard McFadden of Dennysville, Kimberly Davis of Augusta, and Philip Curtis of Madison for giving themselves that option.

Of the 35 seats in the state Senate, 27 couldn’t be wrested from the parties that now hold them if the current occupants were featured in Internet sex videos. (One big reason: No one wants to see those people naked.) Four more districts are considered unlikely to change hands unless the videos involve farm animals. That leaves a total of four real elections.

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