Keogh’s replacement was Portland lawyer Kenneth Cole III, who lasted a few ineffective months. Pam Cahill, a former state senator from Woolwich and failed gubernatorial candidate, took over and managed to run the party treasury back into the red. That financial problem prompted Keogh to return in early 1996. The magic was gone, though, and Republicans were trounced in that year’s legislative races. Nevertheless, Keogh hung on until late 1998, when the GOP got spanked at the polls again.
Vice-chair Kathy Watson of Pittsfield stepped into the breach. Watson concentrated on basics, so in spite of a lack of electoral success and a resurgence of the religious right, she remained in office until 2004. Ex-state Representative Randy Bumps of Minot served just long enough to land a real job with the Republican National Committee. Mark Ellis of Augusta took two turns, interrupted briefly by former legislator Joe Bruno of Raymond, who quit after five months because nobody important would talk to him.
In 2009, Charlie Webster of Farmington, a former state senator and failed gubernatorial candidate, took over, revamping the party’s message to focus on working-class voters. That paid off in 2010 with a GOP sweep of the governorship and Legislature. But dissension between Webster and the Tea Party, Webster and LePage, and Webster and everybody else fractured the Republicans anew, and he got the boot shortly after another ballot-box disaster in 2012. Former state Representative Rich Cebra of Naples lasted six months before abruptly resigning, which clears the way for some new sucker.
Whoever that turns out to be should keep in mind that this is a job so awful even a publicity hound like Bruce Poliquin wouldn’t take it.
Enough with chairs. I’m hitting the couch. Email comforting comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
: The Editorial Page
, John Baldacci, Paul Lepage, Charlie Webster, More