Phil: I daresay, the view from where I sit is simply awe-inspiring.
Ethan: I know Yarmouth is a pretty town, but awe-inspiring?
Phil: Well, yes, Yarmouth is beautiful this time of year. But the view I am referencing is from the garden in the city of Castellini in Chianti, Italy, where we are visiting friends.
Ethan: So that’s where you’ve been hiding.
Phil: Just gaining a little perspective for when politics gets rolling after Labor Day. Speaking of politics, I did notice that Republicans fielded 184 candidates for the 186 races in the Legislature. And Democrats only have 174. A guaranteed 10-seat advantage at the start of the race gives me a nice warm feeling inside.
Ethan: You already had those 10 seats. Would have been a waste of time to put someone up in Caribou. They haven’t voted for a Democrat since the last time Portland voted Republican.
Phil: Smart people in Caribou.
Ethan: A more important statistic is that only 31 House Republican incumbents are running for re-election. Compare that to 66 House Democrats stepping back up, and you know why we’re feeling good about our prospects.
Phil: Further confirmation that Democrats love remaining employed by government while Republicans always look for opportunities to re-enter the private sector after taking their turn making our republic work.
Ethan: I wish more Republicans would “re-enter the private sector.” We might actually be able to get something done in Augusta and Washington!
Phil: I set myself up for that one.
Ethan: But honestly, do you think the reason so few Republicans are running for re-election is due to any internal struggles? Sure looks like they think the ship is sinking.
Phil: Not in the least. In fact, I sense this is going to be a Republican year. We are just a few upsets away from taking the Senate, and the House math almost guarantees Republicans will pick up seats.
Ethan: Hard to see you taking the Senate. You are basically going to need to swing four seats your way. That is pretty herculean.
Phil: In 2010 we took five.
Ethan: And we took them all back in 2012.
Phil: Incumbent Republicans likely will run on the positive results during their term and stand apart from Gov. LePage’s brash style. They’ll point to the votes they cast against LePage as proof.
Ethan: You mean the votes they cast against LePage, before LePage forced them to flip-flop and sustain his veto? Those guys were worse than John Kerry (“I voted for the war, before I voted against it”). After that treatment, if I were a Republican, I’d be bailing as well.
Phil: If you were a Republican, all of us would be bailing. As for new candidates, they will run on keeping the economic momentum improving, while campaigning against the acrimony in Augusta.
Ethan: Republicans are going to run on the economic momentum Obama has created? Heck, if I were running, I guess I’d also want to run on the coattails of unemployment dropping 1.5 points, the Dow doubling, GDP growth at 4 percent, and the deficit being cut by two thirds! Smart strategy.
Phil: The facts are clear that LePage and the 2010 Republican legislature set the agenda for Maine’s upward economic results, and they are still improving as Election Day grows near.
Ethan: You’re drinking a little too much vino.
Phil: And you aren’t drinking enough if you don’t feel the headwinds against Democrats. Republicans have improved our economy; are right on paying off our hospital debt; are right on welfare reform; are right on keeping nursing homes open; and are being proven more and more right every day on ObamaCare. If Republicans keep reminding voters of these things, they have a real chance of controlling all three branches for the second time in 40 years.
Ethan: Sorry, but Democrats are the ones who have improved the economy; are right on expanding health care; are right on raising the minimum wage; are right on protecting our most vulnerable; and are being proven more and more right every day on ObamaCare (down to 13.4 percent uninsured in Maine!). But, you are missing the most important factor. LePage’s style has left 60 percent saying “no more!” So while I agree that the winds are more firmly at Republican backs nationally, in Maine your battle will not be as easy. I believe voters are now looking for a more bipartisan style.
Phil: LePage has recognized this and I believe will campaign with a much improved approach. This will offer voters a wiser Le- Page prepared to make the legacy of his second term one of measurable results and kinder style.
Ethan: You need to get out of the Tuscan sun. Leopards don’t change their spots in three months.
Phil: Maybe. But when the winds are with them, they are awfully hard to catch.