The Midterms: Maine

=========
=========
Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
=========
=========

Today, we finish off the New England region with a look at the midterm elections in Maine.  There is an open gubernatorial race, one Congressional race of interest, and a Senate race.  In that Senate race, technically independent but really Democratic incumbent Angus King is not expected to encounter any trouble and will easily win reelection.

In the key Congressional race, Republican Bruce Poliquin is the lone GOP representative left from this region of the country- New England.  We may not know immediately the results of this race since Maine is using “instant runoff voting.”  In this system, voters rank their choices for any office and they get as many chances as there are candidates.  For example, if after the vote is counted no one achieves 50% of the vote, the bottom vote getter is eliminated and the voter’s next choice is counted.  The process continues until someone gets 50% of the vote.  Besides the GOP incumbent, the Democrats are fielding Jared Golden with two minor party candidates on the ballot.

In 2016, this seat swing from 52% for Obama in 2012 to 51% for Trump four years later.  It is one of the most heavily white working class districts in the country.  In one recent survey, Trump received a 47% approval rating against 47% disapproval in the district.  Most importantly, that survey also revealed that voters preferred a GOP-led House by a margin of 48-41%- good news for Poliquin.

In what is by now a common attack theme by the Democrats, they are portraying Poliquin as one of those mean Republicans who will take away your healthcare coverage and toss granny off the cliff.  Holden is running ads with that very message using Republican state legislators to deliver the message against Poliquin.

Poliquin is not sitting back on this issue and argues that Golden’s universal healthcare, or Medicare for All, will actually bankrupt the system (if not the country), lead to exorbitant taxes, and actually be the death knell of Medicare.

And it seems strange that Poliquin would be running ads about tattoos, and the Democrats have mocked the issue, but it requires some explanation.  When in the state legislature, Golden voted against a law that would have prohibited the use of welfare funds to purchase tattoos, lottery tickets, tobacco or alcohol.  Golden argues he voted against the measure because federal law already prohibited these purchases.  Um… what about state welfare programs there, Skippy?

The ad then shows the prominent tattoo Golden wears on his forearm.  However, that is the insignia of his Marine unit in Afghanistan.  It is kind of funny how the Democrats rush to defend a tattoo while they attacked an ICE official for an alleged neo-Nazi one that was actually the insignia of the fire department.

The Chamber of Commerce waded into the race in support of Poliquin over his alleged opposition to Trump’s tariffs against various countries.  In other words, Poliquin is maintaining enough distance from Trump without alienating Trump voters.  With polling all over the place, this writer believes incumbency may count for something here and Poliquin may squeak by with a narrow victory.

In the open gubernatorial race, Paul LePage, the firebrand Republican incumbent, is term-limited.  In many ways, he was Trump before Trump.  On the GOP side is Shawn Moody and on the Democratic side is Janet Mills.

Of interest in this race is not the two major party candidates, but two independents on the ballot, and how instant runoff voting will affect the outcome of this race.  Those two independents are state treasury secretary Terry Hayes and self-funded businessman Alan Caron.  Specifically, behind in the polls, Moody and the state GOP have been running ads supportive of Hayes claiming (correctly) that Mills is a tried-and-true liberal who wants onerous environmental regulations, high taxes and universal healthcare.  The ad is designed to make more moderate Democrats (yes…they still exist in Maine) turn away from Mills.

There is one sideshow in this race.  It recently came to light that Moody settled for $20,000 a sex discrimination complaint against him.  He allegedly visited a female employee at home after she gave birth while on maternity leave and informed her she could not do her duties at an auto repair shop he owned because she was a single mother.  The complaint was eventually dropped, but the accuser stands by her story.

This is basically a non-issue and designed to make Moody look bad in the #MeToo hysteria sweeping politics.  The more important dynamic here will be the instant runoff voting system and whether enough voters turn to independent candidates with Moody their second choice.  At this point, this writer, however, would have to put it in the “D” column simply because of available polls, the trends, and the fact the Republican incumbent, LePage, leaves office relatively unpopular.

I will revisit the Congressional race at the end of this series, but the numbers thus far are:

US Senate 45-29 Republican, US House 121-114 Republican, and Governors 25-12 Republican.

Next: Minnesota