We said on this page Monday that yesterday’s special election in Senate District 19 was not about Gov. Paul LePage.
Oh, but it was.
And now — coupled with polling that suggests Democrat Mike Michaud has assumed front-runner status in the 2014 race for the Blaine House — Maine Republicans have a very real problem on their hands.
The Mid-coast’s anti-LePage revolt goes back to February 2012, when Chris Johnson defeated Dana Dow by 171 votes in a special election to succeed David Trahan — a conservative Waldoboro Republican.
That was the first legislative election in Maine to be held with LePage sitting in the Blaine House.
Since then, in the 16 Mid-coast legislative contests put to voters, Democrats have won 15 of them.
Listen to what voters told us yesterday:
“We need stronger people who are willing to work around (Gov. Paul LePage) if he won’t work with them.”
“For me, it was more about being worried about the direction of our state under the current leadership. I don’t like the rhetoric that’s being assigned to our state. Beyond that, I didn’t really get into the candidates’ backgrounds too much.”
“I think it’s important to keep the balance of power the way it is in the Legislature.”
“I’m not for LePage. He doesn’t present a professional demeanor or presence. He doesn’t know how to keep his mouth closed and it reflects badly on the state of Maine.”
“We need the ability to raise the argument above where it has been recently in Augusta.”
All of that tells us Mainers are roundly sick of the governor’s antics, if not necessarily his policies. We feel that angst is genuine — not the product of the mailers and robocalls pumped into your home for the last several weeks.
It also tells us Maine Democrats and their incredible ground game — which ranges from fundraising to get-out-the-vote networks — have a running start at the Blaine House in 2014, especially here in the Mid-coast.
We are sure there are few who could master the steep learning curve as ably as Sen.-elect Eloise Vitelli will — and we congratulate her on a well-earned win.
Our biggest problem with Tuesday’s vote is that — from speaking with voters — it hardly seemed to matter what the Democratic platform was. And “stop LePage” is hardly a proactive agenda.
Republican Paula Benoit should have had “a cakewalk,” it was assumed, based on her experience, demeanor and moderation within a party that needs all three. Now, Republicans are left to deal with the prospect of a party where moderates cannot win, and the aftermath of a sitting governor who may be a sitting duck if Tuesday’s election, plus the Public Policy Polling report on Michaud’s Blaine House bid, have any accuracy.
Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett said Sagadahoc County is viewed as a swing district — and that Tuesday’s results mean nothing for the 2014 election.
“There’s always a tendency to read into these things larger than they are,” he told the Bangor Daily News. “This is an election between three people and that’s it.”
Nice try, Rick. Better get to work.
The smoldering electoral revolt against Gov. LePage has caught fire once again in Mid-coast Maine.