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Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.
Ethan: I’m sensing Maine Republicans are salivating at the prospect of 2022 being a repeat of 2010.
Phil: Meaning another one of the largest year-over-year bumps in lobster landings and prices? That would be uplifting for our economy, our taste buds, and might even offset your man Joe Biden’s rampant inflation.
Ethan: I think you mean the Putin price hike, I was actually referring to Republicans dreaming they are going to bang the gavel in Augusta by taking the House, Senate and Blaine House, aka: “Return of the 2010 red wave!”
Phil: Wouldn’t that be good for the economy? And yes, I too sense a lot of optimism, recent fundraising numbers certainly support that theory.
Ethan: So far, Maine Republicans are outfundraising Democrats by 2-1, in fact they’ve raised 10 times as much as they did in 2020. But all that shows is that lobbyists and the rich agree with your assessment.
Phil: Fundraising is a transparent barometer of voters’ priorities, yet it means little at the ballot box if the candidate isn’t up to the job or talking about matters voters don’t care about. Which is why, on that front as well, I think Republicans should feel optimistic.
Ethan: If you think the message of “Joe Biden is destroying the country” is going to carry an unprepared House candidate in Madawaska, you are going to have a very disappointing November.
Phil: In a rare moment of concurrence, I agree with you. Your side used the “Donald Trump is destroying the country” to hold onto and gain power in 2018 and 2020 because you had candidates who espoused reasonableness and diplomacy.
Ethan: That too.
Phil: The Republican message is building from those stunning disappointments: “Elect us and we will reduce inflation, repair supply chains, motivate workers to come back and lower tax rates.” Otherwise known as the pocketbook issues of working families and small businesses. From what I see, from Gov. Paul LePage on down, Republicans are staying disciplined on this message.
Ethan: “Paul LePage” and “staying disciplined” are two phrases I would rarely put in the same sentence, as evidenced, once again, by his latest repeat/backtrack of lies about voter fraud in Maine.
Phil: I saw that fastball coming. An early misstep, for sure. LePage thus far has been a team builder and disciplined. Building a message from the 186 legislative candidates on up is why I do think the red wave is coming. He led us to a better Maine in 2010, and I expect he will do the same in 2022.
Ethan: He led us to that “promised land” because Eliot Cutler, a name none of us wants to utter at this point, undermined Libby Mitchell and split the vote.
Phil: Some would say Mitchell undermined Cutler, but let’s both now breathe a sigh of relief that he did not win. LePage earned 38 percent, same as your man John Baldacci did when he won in 2002, and he carried that wave to a majority in both the state House and Senate. In fact, for Republicans, it was the first time that had happened in Maine since before you were born, not to make news of your youth and inexperience.
Ethan: Once in my lifetime was plenty. Here’s hoping that Gov. Janet Mills and Democratic leaders figure out how to save us from a field of red.
Phil: If voters vote for Republicans in November, they will see results in the spring. Similar to planting tulip bulbs in the fall and watching a beautiful colorful spring unfold.
Ethan: Such poetry. Who knew you were a closet Walt Whitman!