The Universal Notebook: The biggest loser

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When I went to bed on Election Day I was bummed out because, despite the fact that President Obama and marriage equality had prevailed, I was under the impression that state Sen. Dick Woodbury had been unseated by a former Navy SEAL with the backing of tens of thousands of dollars of out of state money.

I woke up Wednesday morning to discover that the Yarmouth vote had not come in when I went to bed. When Yarmouth was counted, we carried Woodbury over the top to victory.

For the first time in my life, I won the Election Day lottery – everyone and everything I voted for won. Though other votes had more wide-ranging implications, I was most happy that my fellow District 11 voters had understood that there was no reason not to re-elect Dick Woodbury.

Challenger Chris Tyll waged an energetic and expensive campaign, plastering the area with his plywood signs and even getting U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe to do a voice-over for him. I guess that’s what galled me most. Snowe claims she is leaving the U.S. Senate because of partisan gridlock and says she plans to support candidates who will work in a bipartisan way to solve problems. But that, Sen. Snowe, is Dick Woodbury.

The local pundits had expected the insurgent Tyll to upset the incumbent Woodbury, but Tyll was not the biggest loser on Nov. 6.

Charlie Summers would be a contender for that title, losing his fourth campaign for statewide office. It should be pretty clear to Summers at this point that Maine people don’t want him representing them in Washington. Summers will also lose his job as secretary of state now that Democrats have retaken control of both houses of the Legislature.

In terms of historic relevance, the biggest losers last Tuesday were the religious self-righteous who opposed gay marriage. Now that Maine has become the first state in the nation to embrace gay marriage by popular referendum, history will understand anti-gay Christians as opponents of civil rights.

In terms of sheer dollars wasted, the biggest losers were the nefarious Republican Super PACs and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent millions of dollars on the U.S. Senate race trying to defeat Angus King. I assume heads will roll at the U.S. Chamber unless their corporate donors are as stupid as their policy advisers.

The title of Biggest Loser 2012, however, goes to Gov. Paul LePage. This election was a referendum on his two years of loud-mouthed leadership. Mainers put Democrats back in charge because we are sick and tired of LePage, his my-way-or-the-highway style and his blame-the-victim public policy agenda. Not only will LePage now have to contend with a Legislature controlled by the very Democrats he insulted, he will also lose his conservative allies in the constitutional offices. Summers will be out as secretary of state, Bruce Poliquin will be sent packing as treasurer and William Schneider will be dumped as attorney general.

Since there is no chance LePage will be re-elected in 2014, if he plans to accomplish anything at all while still in office he is going to have to wake up to the fact that governing is the art of compromise. It is a collaborative endeavor, not a cage fight. If Paul LePage is smart, and there has been precious little evidence of that to date, he will take his own advice and start kissing some butt.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.