Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling, BDN Agree to Disagree bloggers. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on

Ethan: Here it is. The column all political junkies in Maine and casino bookies wait for. Our annual predictions on how Election Day will turn out! 

Phil: Having come in second to you the last cycle, I feel the odds are now in my favor. Take note Vegas!

Ethan: You may be right. I can feel my heart pulling me harder than my head this cycle.

Phil: OK, let’s start with an easy one. Republicans take over the U.S. Senate and gain a 52/48 edge. Surely you agree.

Ethan: Au contraire, mon ami. Donald Trump’s extremist hold on GOP primaries sunk your chances here months ago. I see the blue team holding Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, and winning Pennsylvania. That makes it 51/49 blue. However, I am seeing red in the House: 225 to 210.

Phil: On that we agree, but Republicans will hold 233 seats. I may send flowers to the retirement party for Nancy Pelosi.

Ethan: Back home I see Chellie Pingree winning by 58 percent, but Jared Golden’s race is tough. My heart wants him to win, but that district has become so conservative. What’s your take on him versus Bruce Poliquin?

Phil: I see a repeat of 2018. Poliquin wins the plurality, with Tiffany Bond’s No.  2’s going mostly to Golden to give him a third term. Pingree only gets 55 percent though.

Ethan: Well, if even you think Poliquin is going to lose, my heart now matches my head. Golden wins both the plurality and the majority. Bond gets 6 percent. How do you see the Legislature?

Phil: Full sweep red team: 18/17 in the Senate, and a more comfortable 81/70 in the House.

Ethan: I agree on the House, although I see it 77/74 in favor of the red coats. In the Senate, while Democrats will lose seats, it is too steep a hill for Republicans to take control. Democrats 19, Republicans 16.

Phil: OK, before we get to the big one, governor, let’s dive into the 3,373 referenda Portland has on the ballot. I assume you say all of the citizen initiatives will pass?

Ethan: Almost. Question E, the ban on cruise ships, will not pass because Democratic Socialists of America and the longshoremen came up with a great compromise. Should the council fail to enact that compromise, the ban will be back and it will pass overwhelmingly. And while Question A will pass (the one written by AirBnb landlords to protect their self interest), it will get fewer votes than B (the one written by the people to protect the community interest).

Phil: I have Portland finally coming to its senses and rejecting all this government regulation. A passes. The rest fail.

Ethan: Nope. Question D, the minimum wage hike to $18, will pass. And Question C, further protecting tenants from the housing crisis, will also. Lastly, I predict a sweep on the charter questions, finally creating the democratic, accountable government we deserve.

Phil: Although I agree with “Enough is Enough,” their strategy of just “reject everything” was intellectually weak. I predict all pass except 2 and 5, the executive mayor and school board autonomy.

Ethan: Ok, let’s get to the governor. Are you willing to go out on a limb and say we have our first incumbent defeated in a re-election bid since Gov. John Reed in 1967?

Phil: I am indeed. Paul LePage wins with 50.1 percent of the vote. Janet gets 48 percent and Sam Hunkler gets 2 percent from the “pox on both your parties” crowd.

Ethan: You got Sam Hunkler correct. Otherwise, Janet gets 53 percent and LePage 45 percent. 

Phil: Final prediction. What’s your wild card? 

Ethan: Cape Elizabeth approves one of the largest school bonds in Maine history to rebuild schools built before World War II (full disclosure, my partner is working on this one).

Phil: A liberal town voting to spend money? Not much of a wild card there. Mine is that Senate President Troy Jackson is the first sitting president to be defeated since Charlie Pray in 1992.

Ethan: What’s our wager?

Phil: You can buy me the beer of my choice in Yarmouth.