Politics & Other Mistakes: Rankled and wrecked

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No need for you to endure the endless wait for the results of ranked-choice voting, which should be available before the tourists leave on Labor Day. Or at least by Halloween. Although if Gov. Paul LePage’s refusal to acknowledge the law delays the tallying, it could be Christmas.

In the meantime, my highly scientific analysis of this election is already completed. It says:

The Democrats are screwed in November.

Not totally screwed. Just screwed enough to be painful.

The Democrats will probably retain control of the Maine House of Representatives, because – with the exception of 2010 – Republicans haven’t captured a majority there since Chester Greenwood invented the earmuff. The GOP is consistently outspent and outhustled in competitive House races. And they also have a higher percentage than do the Dems of candidates who turn out to be weirdos. This may have something to do with genetics.

In the state Senate, the donkey party has an outside chance of gaining a majority by a seat or two, but I wouldn’t bet your beer money on that. The pachyderms have a solid slate of contenders who should be sufficient to hang onto their narrow edge, so long as most of them can avoid racist Facebook posts and inappropriate sexual advances.

Overall, Democrats will have enough members in both chambers of the Legislature to appoint whomever they choose to the constitutional offices of attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer. All those officials will then be available to run for higher office in 2020 and 2022, when they’ll follow in the grand Democratic tradition of losing.

But back to the screwing. Thanks to the Dems’ support for ranked-choice voting, they’ve set themselves up for trouble in at least one congressional district. They also have little chance in the other district and no chance in the U.S. Senate race. (I’ll set aside the gubernatorial contest until the results are clearer, but they’re probably screwed there, too.)

In southern Maine’s 1st District, Democratic incumbent Rep. Chellie Pingree is the favorite to win a sixth term, but she’ll have to work harder and spend more money than she has in any election since she first won the seat a decade ago. That’s because Pingree has to contend with more than Republican Mark Holbrook, a feckless rage-rodent of the sort his party normally holds in reserve for state House contests where knocking on doors in a T-shirt that says “Deport Samantha Bee” is considered campaigning in formal wear.

In addition to Holbrook, who lost to Pingree in a near landslide two years ago, the congresswoman also has to face independent state Rep. Martin Grohman of Biddeford, a centrist who quit the Democratic Party last year because he favors the Republican version of welfare reform, supports a GOP-crafted compromise on Medicaid expansion and would block future minimum-wage increases.

If he can finish second in the first round of voting – not impossible given Holbrook’s freakazoid extremism – he has an outside shot at knocking Pingree off in the next round of instant runoff, because he’s likely to be the second choice of nearly all Holbrook voters.

Pingree needs to win outright with more than 50 percent of the vote on election night, or face the possibility of being upset by ranked choice.

Could something similar happen in the 2nd District?


Incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce (I live here legally, but not physically) Poliquin may be struggling a little right now, but he has too much cash and too solid an organization to be denied another term.

His likely Dem opponent, state Rep. Jared (I’m no Emily Cain – am I?) Golden, needed all the backing the party apparatus could give him to win his primary, due to his lack of fresh ideas and a serious charisma deficit. The two independents on the ballot, Tiffany (I live in Portland) Bond and Will (I’m unknown, but also invisible) Hoar are running low-budget to no-budget campaigns that will draw just enough votes from Golden to give Poliquin a first-round victory.

Finally, there’s the Senate race, where independent Sen. Angus King should have little trouble winning a second term with no need for ranked choice. The only drama here is whether the third-place loser does worse than the 2012 Dem nominee, who got just 13 percent of the vote. The contenders for the Cynthia Dill Trophy for Political Futility are libertarian-leaning Republican state Sen. Eric (I’m pals with Rand Paul) Brakey and Democrat and recent arrival in Maine Zak (I used to be an obscure country singer named Zak Mountain) Ringelstein.

My money is on the Mountain.

Screw with me if you must by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.