Hello, summer! Where did YOU come from? Put the politics on hold, baby. We’re going to the beach. Note to self: It will be a long, cold time before we see days like this again, so don’t waste a minute of them.
Indian summer. Can we still say that? Or is it Native American summer? First Nation summer? One would think that attributing the absolute pearl of the year, weather-wise, to the Indians would be a tribute, but you never know who you might be offending these days.
But wait – what’s that? Like the buzz of a mosquito disturbing our idyllic afternoon, it’s the Emily Cain campaign asking for $5. Every day. Because Bruce Poliquin voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Because Poliquin is sending jobs overseas. Because Tom Allen has endorsed her. Because “Citizens United” must be overturned. Whatever. Send $5.
Never has a candidate started so soon (moments after she lost the 2014 election for Congress), worked so relentlessly or over-saturated inboxes to such a degree. Will it be effective? Time will tell. Thirteen months of time, to be exact.
Not that Congressman Poliquin isn’t giving her plenty to work with. There is an inherent mystery in the current proposals to defund Planned Parenthood. If you are opposed to abortions, why would you want to defund the organization that provides protection from pregnancy to low-income women who do not wish to be pregnant?
Nevertheless, if fundraising is the best indicator of likely success (it is, though there are outliers), Poliquin is sitting pretty. Any gain for Cain might mainly be in vain. Her campaign is lagging Poliquin’s; he is out-distancing her fundraising efforts by better than 3 to 1, according to the June 2015 filing deadline, and was the second most successful freshman fundraiser in Congress in the first quarter.
What would be the effect of a Democratic primary opponent for Emily Cain? We are fans of the novel, we voters, and after a year and a half of Cain emails, we could get excited about somebody new. There are capable Democrats lurking about, and as long as they are not those of whom we are already seriously tired by virtue of over-exposure (theirs, not ours), Cain could be taken down.
Enter Joe Baldacci. He filed for the Democratic congressional race mid-summer, and his candidacy amounts to more than wishful thinking. He has name recognition in spades thanks to his brother, former Governor John Baldacci, to his family’s political activism and involvement, and to their lengthy presence on the restaurant scene in Bangor.
His brother’s legacy as governor might not be all upside. His popularity, such as it was, dwindled over his tenure. After years in the Maine legislature, then Congress, then the Blaine House, John Baldacci wore out his welcome.
Furthermore, Cain has a lock on the “official” support of the Democratic Party, in the form of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Having apparently learned little from their premature embrace of the Mike Michaud candidacy for governor, Democrats are now all in for Emily Cain. Joe Baldacci’s reply: “Washington insiders aren’t going to decide this election. The people of Maine are.”
Could he or some other contender get in the race this late (Yes, 13 months out is late.) and command sufficient support to overcome the forces of Cain and mount an effective challenge to the well-positioned Poliquin? Consider this: Congressman Poliquin’s performance has attracted positive attention and not just from Republicans.
He has been out and about in Maine, with good reviews. He is attentive and curious and a good listener. His office is described as responsive and energetic. He will have to get cross-threaded with Mainers on a lot more issues for a Democrat, any Democrat, to get traction.
He has developed a reputation for work, work, work, tagged the “energizer bunny” by observers of Capitol Hill in Washington. He got a powerful assignment to the House Financial Services Committee. Though his seat is considered in play for 2016, he is acknowledged to be anything but a write-off.
Core Democrats will stick with Cain. Those who are lukewarm about her may shift to Joe Baldacci. But they are not likely to be gung ho about it. Neither one of these folks is a candidate who inspires passion.
Republicans are more likely to profit by rallying ‘round Poliquin than scouting for an alternative. Having exceeded expectations in his first term, his party will do what they can to get him over the freshman hump and into the hard-to-beat category of the two-term incumbency.
The fun will all be in the 2nd Congressional District.
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has a lock on her seat in the 1st Congressional District now and into the foreseeable future.
The election will begin to loom large after the first of the year. The lazy, hazy, crazy days of this September summer will be a fond memory, and we all will be standing by to switch to the “all politics, all the time” channel. For now, remember that whoever gave us last winter also has given us this fall. Be thankful.