A Susan Collins Gubernatorial Run Would Boost The GOP

I know, I know. Bear with me here.

Sen. Susan Collins isn’t exactly the poster child for American conservatism. The Maine Republican boasts a Club For Growth lifetime rating of 35 percent. The Heritage Action scorecard is even worse. They currently rate her at a dismal 16 percent. The senior senator from the Pine Tree State solidified her moderate bonafides with her rejection of Obamacare repeal this year – playing a key role in healthcare reform’s failure.

However, I am here to tell you that if Collins decides to run for Maine’s highest executive office, it will be a boost to both the Republican Senate Majority and the Republican Governors Association.

Collins, currently serving her fourth term in the Senate, is seriously considering a run for governor. She will make a final decision by the end of September and, according to most indications, she will likely go for it.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage – having won election in 2010 and re-election four years later – is term limited and will be leaving office by January 2019. Besides having a public demeanor to the man who currently occupies the White House, LePage is known nationally for having quite a conservative record. His implementation of welfare reform has done wonders – giving Maine higher wages, more employment and showcasing to the country that conservative reforms work.

That is just one example of the many executive accomplishments by LePage. He has done much to turn this particular New England state around. Which is why InsideGov listed him near the top of the list of the most conservative governors in the United States.

Why does he matter? Should Collins run and win the race to succeed him, LePage would be the one to pick a replacement for her vacant Senate seat.

Imagine a conservative like LePage getting the opportunity to replace a moderate like Collins? Remember, we lost the “skinny” ObamaCare repeal measure by one vote. Collins was one of the few Republican senators who bucked her party and voted against repeal. With a conservative rating as poor as hers, it’s hard to image LePage appointing anyone less conservative.

If Collins can maneuver to the Republican governor’s house (referred to as the Blaine House), it would have implications for Republicans across the country. Our Republican majority in the Senate is thin and any change to the balance could be monumental.

So a Collins governorship would be good for Republicans everywhere else in the union. But what about Maine? Would conservatives in her state be “taking one for the team?”

I don’t think that’s the case.

Make no mistake, Maine is a blue state. Voters here haven’t chosen a Republican candidate for president since 1988 (although they now divvy up their electoral points by congressional district). However, Republicans can survive here – they control the state Senate, governor’s office and one U.S. Senate seat – but they must boast moderate records to survive.

Gov. LePage, a staunch conservative, is an anomaly to my above description and is not a perfect reflection of Maine voters. He won both his statewide elections with the help of left-leaning, third-party candidates. Both in 2010 and 2014, independent candidate Eliot Cutler ran impressive third-party gubernatorial campaigns, splitting the vote and helping to pave the way for LePage victories.

Cutler has announced that he will not make third run for governor in 2018 and there is no real indication that another independent can make as strong a showing again. Other independents will be running next year, sure. But the Maine Republican Party cannot bank on other candidates splitting the liberal vote in 2018.

How well do Democrats think their chances are in this race? That can be answered with the fact that they already have nine declared candidates so far.

LePage said in a recent interview that Collins does not have a shot at winning the GOP primary solely because of her moderate record. This prediction makes sense on the surface, but holds no water when you consider the make-up of the race.

Almost every GOP candidate is waiting on Collins to announce a decision before they make up their own minds – telling you all you need to know about how much authority she carries in the state. If she runs, many of them will opt against challenging her. The only serious Republican candidate to have officially entered the race is former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew – a woman who has never run for office before.

It should also be noted that Mayhew served as a longtime employee of LePage’s administration. The governor showered her with praise following her resignation earlier in this year. This detail, along with Collin’s aversion to conservative legislating, is perhaps why LePage is reluctant to endorse the senior senator outright. LePage wants to believe Mayhew will win.

The question should be: who is best positioned to win the general election?

Democrats are running top talent such as Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, several former state lawmakers and others. Many of them are known statewide and carry campaign experience. Contrast this to Mayhew – a campaign novice who has never run for elected office and is virtually unknown to voters. Mayhew would begin a general election at a huge disadvantage against the Democrat nominee. LePage even said it himself during his radio interview: if Collins wins the primary, she has the general in the bag.

Collins is a proven darling in her state. She has won election to the Senate four times by significant margins. In her last election, she won with over 68 percent of the vote.

A Collins victory also gives us a two-for-one bonus. A Republican governor and a more conservative lawmaker in the United States Senate. If Mayhew were to win, on the other hand, her victory would do nothing for conservatives on Capitol Hill.

The choice for the Blaine House’s next occupant is an easy one.



Gov. Paul LePage is an Utter Idiot

Of all the political takes about removing Confederate statues, this is by far the worst.

“To me, it’s just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11. It will come to that,” [Maine Gov. Paul] LePage told WGAN news radio.

In his normal daily verbal excretions, Maine Gov. Paul LePage makes Donald Trump look like Edmund Burke. He makes Anthony Scaramucci look like William F. Buckley. You get the idea here.

But this one is so over the top, and demonstrates such an insurmountable summit of ignorance, that LePage should be labeled as mentally disabled and removed from office for uttering it.

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll start with the 32nd governor of Maine. His name was Joshua Chamberlain. Prior to his election to that office, Chamberlain served in the U.S. Army, where he led the 20th Maine Infantry.

You might have heard of them (or seen the movie “Gettysburg” where the part of Chamberlain was played by Jeff Daniels). They successfully defended Little Round Top, charging down the hill–a charge that inspired the book “The Killer Angels.”

Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action on Little Round Top. I don’t think he would have much to say about equating Confederate statues with memorializing the worst terrorist attack on American soil in our history.

I do know Chamberlain, along with 68 previous governors of Maine who have descended into their tombs, are rolling furiously in their graves. I can’t imagine the living former governors, who include sitting Sen. Angus King, would have a whole lot of good things to say either.

Oh, and another thing: There are no Confederate monuments in Maine.

LePage is an utter idiot.

Is Maine’s Gov. LePage On Drugs?

For over a week, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has claimed he has a three-ring binder full of drug dealers, and that 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic. This kind of reminds me of Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” but much more ominous.

After withering criticism–partly based on statistics showing the overwhelming majority of drug dealer arrests in Maine are white–LePage has (1) publicly threatened to resign in a radio interview, (2) walked back that threat, and (3) left a profanity-laced voicemail for a Democratic legislator who he wished he could challenge to a duel.

These actions lead me to question whether the Maine governor’s binder is of his personal drug dealers. Is LePage high?

Democratic leaders in the mostly-rural, New England state aren’t giving the Trump-supporting governor a pass, while Republicans mostly remain mum.

“I’m not in the medical profession, but it’s clear that the governor needs to seek professional help,” [Maine House Democratic Leader Jeff] McCabe said. “He’s crossed a line and we are questioning his well-being at this time.”

“As abhorrent as that behavior was, we’re even more concerned with what could happen next,” Senate Democratic leaders Justin Alfond and Dawn Hill said in a joint statement. “What important decision might the governor be making the next time he experiences one of these out-of-control episodes — when he is, as he puts it, ‘so angry he literally cannot breathe?’”

Maine has two enormous problems shared by many states where the economy is based on manufacturing and natural resources: unemployment and drugs. In 2015, drug fatalities increased by 31 percent over the previous year.

The vast majority of the 272 deaths in 2015 were caused by heroin, fentanyl or prescription opioids, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Most overdose deaths involve two or more drugs, meaning one overdose could show up in multiple categories.

LePage has focused on heroin, which many addicts “graduate” to after becoming addicted to opioids.

The fact of the matter is this: I got all of my info in my book from the press. It’s that simple,” he said. “Every drug arrest, we get the story and the people, and when it comes to meth labs it’s all white people from Maine. When it comes to heroin, it’s just the opposite. Whether it’s right or wrong and I’ll leave you to make that judgment, but I spoke fact.

The problem is that LePage focuses on race as the issue, calling racial minorities “the enemy.”

LePage then turned to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, an officer who serves as a military lawyer in the Maine Air National Guard and sat in on the press conference. “Don’t you – Ken (Fredette) you’ve been in uniform? You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

While that comment might go over really well with Trump’s alt-right supporters, shooting the non-white enemy is a repugnant and simply awful position to hold by any politician.

“It’s not about me. It’s about making sure that we can move the state forward,” [LePage] said. “It’s one thing to have one party behind (you), it’s another thing to not have any party behind you.”

It doesn’t matter that LePage is a Republican. Nobody is going to back him up on this.

The state that’s home to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin, and the newly created Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument deserves a better steward than a man who seems to be taking his cues from the late Toronto mayor, Rob Ford.

Perhaps the best thing LePage could do is follow through with his threat and just step down.

P.S. In Maine, Trump trails Clinton by 10 points. There’s nothing to save here for the GOP. Sen. Susan Collins is safe until 2020, and Independent Angus King is up in 2018. The state’s two congressional districts are fairly stable–the 1st CD Portland-Augusta axis is Democrat, and the rest of the state (2nd CD) is Republican. LePage is his own mess.