TRAUMATIC MEMORIES

But back to the idea of King and Dill splitting the liberal/progressive/independent vote. There's no question that the statewide electorate (a lot of it, anyway) was politically traumatized by the outcome of the 2010 gubernatorial race. There's also no question that Dill is paying the price.

"Dill has virtually no chance to be Maine's next senator, but she does have a chance to make history," Portland Press Herald editorial page editor Greg Kesich wrote last week. "If sometime between now and November 6 she throws her support to King, she would take a major step toward keeping the Republicans from taking over the US Senate, and she would write the rules for what Maine voters expect from grown-up candidates in three-way races. This precedent could come back and help a Democrat in the next three-way race. It would be a wild, risky, out-of-the-box move. But the right one."

The following day, also on the Press Herald's editorial page, King supporter Alan Caron, who used to lead GrowSmart Maine, chimed in: "Dill can't win. If you had a bank of super-computers whirring for a week you couldn't produce a mathematical scenario in which she might win this race. What you would produce are various scenarios in which Dill gets just enough votes to hand the race to Summers and gives Republicans control of the U.S. Senate."

Ouch.

When I saw her speak on the morning Caron's editorial was published, Dill was clearly fired up about calls for her to bow out of the race. A gentleman at the Ocean View retirement community asked her if she was contemplating such a move.

"I'm in this race to win," she responded. "If anyone's a spoiler in this race it's the person who's not being straight with you." (Presumably she was referring to King's sustained ambiguity regarding which party he'll caucus with in DC.)

The state Democratic Party continues to stand behind Dill.

All this political maneuvering doesn't make for an inspired political debate, does it?

"At this point in the race, no one has passed that threshold for us," explained Nicola Wells, state director of the League of Young Voters, which opted not to endorse a candidate in the senate race. "None of these people has convinced us yet." But that's not to say the chance has passed. Wells implores the candidates: "Give us more."

We echo her request. And we'll tack one word onto the end. Give us more substance.

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