Ethan: Hey Phil, did you hear that U.S. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, entered the race for governor this week?
Ethan Hey, Phil!
Phil: Huh, what? What’s going on?
Ethan: Michaud has entered the race for governor!
Phil: Wow, that’s some big political news. Can I go back to bed now?
Phil: Ethan, this news is about as significant as when independent Eliot Cutler “announced” he was running for governor after having never stopped running since he lost in 2010.
Ethan: Don’t you try to downplay the fact that Republicans are quaking in their boots. They know Michaud’s entry into the race gives Democrats the best shot possible at knocking an incumbent out of the Blaine House for the first time in 50 years.
Phil: I must still be dreaming, as you can’t be serious.
Phil: Every poll paid for by the Democrats or their union buddies.
Ethan: And what do your polls say?
Phil: Who cares? The election is 15 months away. No poll these days has any meaning on what’s going to happen on Nov. 4, 2014.
Ethan: Fair enough. But can’t you at least allow Democrats one day of feeling good? Michaud has united the party, has a great working class background and appears willing to take the fight for working people all the way to Election Day.
Phil: Forgive me, I didn’t mean to deny Democrats a “feel good” day. Come to think of it, isn’t that why our country is in so much red ink? Politicians keep making decisions on how they feel rather than doing math, so the children don’t inherit a bankrupt country? OK, I’ll get back to the topic.
Ethan: Maine doesn’t have these problems. Our Constitution requires a balanced budget, and Michaud has a track record on the Appropriations Committee and as president of the Maine Senate of putting the state’s budget together in a balanced and responsible manner. That makes him ideally suited to be the governor, don’t you think?
Phil: If he had governed in Washington, as he did in the Maine Legislature, you would have a valid point. Michaud now has a legacy of pulling deficit dollars out of D.C. and spreading it around to his voters. He is now going to have to explain why during his tenure in Washington our national debt has tripled. Why Obamacare is not the “train wreck” that Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., says it is becoming. And why the trillion-dollar “shovel ready” stimulus package he supported has left our economy in the doldrums.
Ethan: Did you get these talking points from House Speaker John Boehner?
Phil: Nope. From the people I meet on the street.
Ethan: Well, I take it from your offensive that Republicans do understand how formidable Michaud will be?
Phil: Certainly we know we can’t take him for granted. He has never stopped smiling and dialing for campaign dollars since arriving to Congress. But regardless, those are legitimate issues.
Ethan: Legitimate? Let’s see, the deficit is half what it was in former President George Bush’s final budget year ($1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2009 to $700 billion in fiscal year 2014); Obamacare is bringing down health insurance premiums across the country; and Maine’s unemployment rate is down from 8.4 percent when the stimulus was passed to 6.8 percent today. So I guess you’re right, they are legitimate from the perspective that he should run on them because it will help him win!
Phil: If you believe that, then you are blinded by the belief that Michaud’s record is stellar and that his rhetoric and votes are indubitable.
Ethan: “Indubitable?” Where’d a Husson boy like you learn a fancy word like that?
Phil: Must be hangin’ out with Orono folks like you too much.
Ethan: Look, I am not saying his record is perfect. No one’s record is. But I am saying he has made the right votes for Maine on issues like health care, our economy and fiscal responsibility. And those are the ones that matter most.
Phil: Time and debates will enlighten voters to make up their own minds. So, tell us how Michaud is prepared for the transition from group-think legislator to executive leader of Maine?
Ethan: That’s a fair question and probably the one he will have to work on most for the voters. Can he be the general after he’s been one of the troops after all these years? I would say two things. One, our greatest CEOs started as workers on the front line. And Michaud has solid experience in leadership positions, making decisions and building compromise. He did so as chairman of committees, and he did so as president of the Senate.
Phil: Sorry, but chairing a committee of 13 or 35 is not the same as leading a company or guiding a state of 1.3 million people with a budget of more than $6 billion.
Ethan: Fair enough, but he does have one thing we definitely need these days — an understanding of how to work with the Legislature. Governing by veto as opposed to compromise is not the Maine way.
Phil: You’re right. Michaud does already know the dance steps the governor has to learn to get bills passed, especially the budget. But understanding Mason’s rules of order just isn’t enough to be governor. More important is that he’s going to have to explain why he voted in lock step with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the unions for 12 years.
Ethan: You Republicans are obsessed with Pelosi. Do have a crush on her?
Phil: On that thought, I am definitely going back to bed.