If you are not the kind of person who tears out the election results page from The Ellsworth American and settles down with a pen and a calculator, you might want to stop reading right now. However, while we are hanging out at home more than usual, we have the chance to indulge these little obsessions.
The two bonds on the ballot, for high-speed internet infrastructure and transportation necessities, passed by a landslide. Statewide, the internet bond won 75 percent of the vote, the transportation bond 78 percent. In Hancock County they did even better with 78 percent and 80 percent respectively.
The top draws in the primary elections were the U.S. Senate Democratic primary and the U.S. House Republican primary. Incumbent U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ race was uncontested, but three would-be challengers were in the Democratic primary. Sara Gideon, two-term Maine House Speaker and official favorite of both the state and national Democratic Party, didn’t have to break a sweat.
She won every town in Hancock County, taking 65 percent of the county votes. Statewide she took 70 percent. The only dent in her county candidacy was the towns of Mount Desert Island, where her margin was just 53 percent. On MDI, Betsy Sweet showed up early and often, locking up the votes of many politically active Democrats on the island who stuck with her to the end.
Unfortunately for Sweet, her 43 percent share of votes on MDI was the best it got. She won just 30 percent of the Hancock County votes and 23 percent statewide. In Ellsworth, she ended with 24 percent, and in most of the smaller towns in our county (and the state) she did even worse. Bre Kidman was a footnote, running a nontraditional campaign that ended in single digits, topping out at 7 percent statewide.
In the U.S. House primary, it was the Republicans with the contest. Democratic Congressman Jared Golden ran unopposed while the Republicans had a three-way split. This was a much different contest. It was less predictable, and, in the end, the votes were more evenly distributed.
Eric Brakey, he of the underpants dance, whose only other claim to fame was expanding gun rights, was a supremely confident candidate whose campaign ads showed him in close photo-shopped proximity to President Donald Trump. He won just two towns in Hancock County, Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro, and tied for first in Aurora. His final Hancock County vote was 24 percent. Statewide he finished at 23 percent.
In the end, Adrienne Bennett, known for her calm serenity as spokesperson for the incendiary Governor Paul LePage, lost to Dale Crafts, a relatively unknown state representative whom LePage endorsed. Crafts failed to reach 50 percent in the first round, but following the Ranked Choice Voting redistribution of Brakey’s 3rd place votes, he was the winner at 59 percent.
Senate District 7, covering most of Hancock County, saw a Republican primary in which former state senator Brian Langley smoked John Linnehan, winning 72 percent of the vote. That puts him up against Democratic incumbent Louie Luchini in November.
In Senate District 8, incumbent Republican Senator Kim Rosen of Bucksport was challenged by term-limited representative Larry Lockman. Rosen was the winner by 78 votes, but Lockman has challenged the results and, as of this writing, preparations for a recount were underway.
Now there will be a lull, as long as you don’t turn your TV on, until we get into the fall and the general election takes center stage. The only action right now is about whether, when and how often Senator Collins and Sara Gideon will debate. Gideon tossed out a suggestion for five. Collins reportedly laughed and said she wanted 16, one in every county, starting that very night.
Debating is a risk for Gideon. Collins can recite policy and statistics in her sleep, while Gideon is on a steep learning curve. She has the capacity to get up to speed but a stage with Collins is not to be taken lightly. Gideon will be prepped and rehearsed to a fare-thee-well, but that runs the risk of making her sound, well, prepped and rehearsed. As for experience, she had just one televised debate in the primary and skipped another. When it happens, if it happens, it will be must-see TV.
This elaborate dance of debate negotiations, proposals and counter proposals is all well and good for politics, but in Maine there are other ways to solve a problem. Last week a man in Dover-Foxcroft neatly trimmed off half his neighbor’s garage with a Sawzall, the half that crossed a surveyor’s line defining the property boundary. Done and done.
This close definition of property rights was celebrated by far-flung news outlets including the Miami Herald and the U.K.’s Daily Mail, reinforcing Maine’s image for prompt and inventive attention to what is just not right. It is a level of efficiency our federal government will never achieve.