March 16, 2012

M.D. Harmon: Angus King's candidacy throws Democrats a curveball

Does it seem fair that Maine's Republicans have to choose one candidate for U.S. Senate this June, while the Democrats will have two supporters contesting for the seat?

We don't know yet who the parties will pick, but the race is apparently going to field an "IINO" -- Independent in Name Only -- who will vote for the liberal agenda more often than not.

One national blogger said last week that former Gov. Angus King will be "Olympia Snowe without the dress," but Snowe wouldn't have supported Barack Obama's re-election, and King has already done that.

King is personally likable, a slim, sandy-haired Scot with a former TV anchor's voice and demeanor who has generally backed liberal social issues but took some fiscally responsible stands as governor.

He hardly resembles a character fit for the role of 800-pound gorilla he adopted when he said last week he would run as an independent to replace retiring Sen. Snowe. Until then, the race was considered to be in U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree's pocket.

(As an aside, Snowe lived down to conservative expectations once again by being the only Republican senator to vote against the Blunt amendment, which would have preserved First Amendment freedoms under Obamacare. As the kid on the E-Trade commercials says, "This my shocked face.")

Pingree, buoyed by husband Donald Sussman's millions and a solid base of support in Maine's mostly liberal 1st District, was doing fine at her own gorilla imitation until King Kong King grabbed the vine out of her hands.

Which, as far as Maine conservatives are concerned, dodged a bullet in a very big way.

Pingree has earned her reputation as a hard-core leftist. Her rating from the American Conservative Union is a big, shiny goose egg for 2009 and 2010. Maine's 2nd District Democrat, Mike Michaud, got all the way up to a solid 8 (out of 100).

How about the liberal rating, presented by Americans for Democratic Action? Pingree proudly shows up on a list of "ADA Heroes" with a 100 percent liberal voting record, her partisanship earning her a perfect score. (Michaud? Oh, he's way down there at 90 percent.)

(As another aside, has anyone else ever wondered why our senators get such praise for "having the courage to buck the GOP party line," while Pingree, who never departs from the Democratic ranks, and Michaud, who only does so one time out of 10, are never criticized for their lockstep partisanship? The answer's easy: Snowe and Collins often disdain those nasty Republicans, while Pingree and Michaud are solid for the angelic Democrats. Get it now?)

On March 1, the Press Herald's headline about Snowe's decision said it produced a "statewide game of musical chairs." But King stopped the music, leaving lots of people circling just one chair.

Michaud had dropped out earlier, but Pingree was faced with a major decision. So she briefly contemplated the photo of Libby Mitchell pasted to her mirror, phoned her daughter Hannah to tell her to unpack and then said her current job had such a hold on her heart that she couldn't bear to leave it.

Unless, of course, Republicans nominate somebody who might ask ordinary working folks if they really want to re-elect a representative from what the Occupy movement lovingly calls "the 1 percent."

Why, that's enough to make you fly commercial instead of using your family's private jet.

But don't forget King. Now he's a wind-power baron whose project has soaked up a reported $102 million in federal subsidies. No wonder he likes Obama, and no wonder the website Politico says that Democrats "would like to embrace him, but they can't."

(Continued on page 2)

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