Jockeying for power — in the Legislature and blogging contests

Phil: So, your Democratic colleagues took a bit of a beating last week for rejecting GOP Rep. Amy Volk’s bill on sex trafficking. That partisan blood got the best of them again, huh?

Ethan: Oh, please. When Republicans were in control (my, how fleeting that was), they rejected just as many Democratic bills as my side rejected Republican bills.

Phil: Of the 100 bills they let in as “emergencies” for the upcoming January legislative session, including Senate President Justin Alfond’s bill on wine tasting (I will refrain from jokes about your brie eating liberal leadership), only 15 were from my side of the aisle. That is pretty dictatorship-like, don’t you think?

Ethan: That is actually called “majority rules.” The people put Dems in power, and they are reflecting the values won at the ballot box.

Phil: Stopping sex trafficking is not a value that Dem voters believe in?!

Ethan: Well, yes, it is, and I expect the bill will be allowed in. But, let’s be honest, Volk did not take the time to lobby members of the council and explain the bill the first time through. You and I both know that if you want to be an effective legislator, you need to do the hard work of personally explaining what you want to accomplish. My understanding is none of the Democrats on the committee heard from her until after the vote!

Phil: It is not like the bill was some secret. There were a bunch of articles about it in the paper.

Ethan: There were 400 bills in front of that august committee, known as the Legislative Council. You expect them to try and figure out what every bill wants to accomplish by reading all the articles? I don’t think I ever got a bill through the council where I didn’t speak to every member, even when my party ruled.

Phil: Boy, are you being an apologist today. Yes, Volk should have done the legwork, but Dems should not have gone on the offensive by attacking her and trying to impugn her intentions. Can you imagine? Her intentions in trying to stop the sex trafficking of young girls!

Ethan: Yes, they did go too far. But, did you notice that when my side makes a mistake, we actually apologize? Your side could learn a bit or two about being humble.

Phil:  Situations like this illustrate just how jaded people in power can be. Too often legislative leaders here and in Washington look at issues through the prism of how it affects their strategy to retain or gain power. They look for ways at every opportunity to improve the chances of defeating candidates in their next election.

Ethan: Sure, but there is an element of that going on with both parties.

Phil: But, in this instance, the elephant in the room is that Democrats didn’t want to give Volk a legislative victory because she may take on Democratic state Sen. Jim Boyle, D-Gorham. Everyone knows the Senate is vulnerable to flipping back to the Republicans (yes, it was too fleeting!), and young women who are the victims of sex trafficking got caught in the cross-hairs of majority preservation.

Ethan: You are getting a bit too holier-than-thou for my tastes. Both sides try to control the agenda to their point of view and to the larger advantage of majority control. Republicans voted against a ton of bills that Dems supported.

Phil:  Sure, because we have different agendas. But you already admitted that the values in this bill were consistent with Democrats, so the only possible answer is that they were looking to deny her any advantage in attempting to knock out Boyle.

Ethan: Do you see conspiracies in your sleep? Volk didn’t communicate to anyone what her bill did and then slammed them for not allowing it in. Now that they know, they are reconsidering the bill.

Phil: When it comes to legislation it’s not how it starts. It’s how it finishes. If what you say is true, that they are not concerned with giving Volk a legislative victory, it will be interesting to see how many Democrats sign on as co-sponsors and ultimately vote for the bill.

Reader response

Phil: So, on Facebook and Twitter this past week, we posted a contest to see which of our readers/followers could come closest to guessing the results of Public Policy Polling’s results on the governor’s race, which were: Mike Michaud, 38 percent; Paul LePage, 36 percent; and Eliot Cutler, 15 percent.

Ethan: Yes, we did. We asked people to predict the order and percent for LePage, Cutler, and Michaud. We got more than 50 entries from all over the state from some of Maine’s top political watchers, to everyday amateurs. And wouldn’t you know it, an everyday amateur won!

Phil: Not surprised! Who was it?

Ethan: A young man named Kevin Lamoreau who lives in Augusta. He predicted exactly right for Michaud at 38, Cutler at 15, and was only 2 percent off for his prediction of LePage at 34 percent.

Phil: Very impressive. Puts us pundits to shame.

Ethan: Indeed. We should also give honorable mention to Michael Shepherd, political writer for the Kennebec Journal. He predicted Michaud and LePage exactly right and was only off by 5 for Cutler. Not quite as good as Kevin, but he was the only other predictor to nail two of the three.

Phil: So, what does Kevin win besides a shout-out in our column?

Ethan: Well, I could send him one of my “Jesse Jackson for president” buttons.

Phil: I expect he’d prefer a bust of Ronald Reagan, but I am glad you are keeping hope alive, Strim. Keep hope alive.