Phil: In the 1st congressional district campaign I see no indication that Democrat Chellie Pingree has even gone into campaign mode. Indeed she appears to be “mailing it in,” to coin a phrase. Republican Jon Courtney has five weeks to orchestrate a stunning victory. If you were his campaign manager, what would you do?
Ethan: I would tell him to spend all his time shaking hands in Sanford and Springvale. Because when he gets crushed on Election Day, his only hope is to run in 2014 against state Sen. John Tuttle who will be occupying Courtney’s current Senate seat after November.
Phil: After all of your campaigns — for city council, state Senate, Congress, referendums — that’s all you have? You must have seen some tactics that you could charge big bucks for to make him a contender?
Ethan: I do indeed, but I don’t see Courtney writing me a check. Oh yeah, that’s another piece of advice I’d give. Don’t spend any of your savings on this race. It’s brutal trying to raise money when you lose and have to “retire debt.” Especially when your wife finds out. Been there, done that!
Phil: Come on now, Ethan. That can’t be it! Courtney has a pedigree worthy of a congressman. Look at his accomplishments. He runs a small business, so he knows how government actions can paralyze the entrepreneurial spirit. He rose to the position of Senate majority leader where he demonstrated his unique bipartisan ability to pass bills that have changed the culture in Augusta. Clearly we have seen many positive accomplishments under his leadership — results that are in stark contrast to Washington under Pingree’s reign.
Ethan: “Washington under Pingree’s reign.” Are you saying she runs Washington? I wish! Look, nothing against Courtney. I served with the guy for six years on the taxation committee, and he is certainly nice enough. And while I disagree with your sentiment that he is a bastion of bipartisanship (more like a proud and rabid tea party activist), he just doesn’t have a chance in this race. Besides his inability to put together a strong-enough campaign to squeak through a primary against a no-name like Patrick Calder, he is now running against someone that Maine’s 1st district celebrates for both her progressive values and pragmatic solutions.
Phil: I guess I have to concur with you about his primary campaign — a shocking result when the seasoned incumbent wins by concession to a political first-timer. Yet only the political junkies know or care that he nearly lost. What’s important now is how he finishes. Time to unleash the hounds and challenge Pingree to a focused series of debates on how re-electing her won’t improve America’s debilitating financial predicament.
Ethan: Man, you are a sadist. Don’t you remember Courtney’s debating skills from the primary? Remember when that “first-timer” crushed the seasoned incumbent on WCSH/WLBZ? Remember when the seasoned incumbent said he wanted to be on the armed services committee to fight for Brunswick Naval Air Station? A base that was decommissioned from the armed services in 2005! And you want this guy to bet the farm debating Pingree? I love a good political shellacking as much as the next person, but even I will cringe while watching that massacre. Sounds like a hot mess to me!
Phil: Have you no compassion? Perhaps Courtney stepped forward to be the loyal opposition, the one who would be the voice of the small business person — or the voice supporting a federal government we can actually afford. Give Courtney credit for taking on the status quo. Wouldn’t you agree incumbents should have to defend their votes every election?
Ethan: Sure. I have no problem with Courtney running, and I agree with you that all incumbents should be challenged. But I didn’t think we were discussing whether he should run. I thought we were discussing who would win. In my mind that’s Pingree. From her work helping local farms, to her standing up for veterans who were the victims of sexual assault, to her getting cruise ships to buy Maine lobster. She is a non-partisan advocate for regular everyday folks and businesses, no matter what party. I expect she will be rewarded with a strong mandate to return.
Phil: The voters will determine the rest of the story and whether your prediction is correct. However, an angle we have not discussed is how closely Pingree must be watching this U.S. Senate race. If Angus continues to crumble and somehow loses what was a sure thing, I expect you’ll be seeing a much more moderate Pingree as she begins to campaign for U.S. Senate in 2018 against U.S. Senator (and Republican) Charlie Summers…