Let’s talk about extremists.

Not the kind in Iraq, fashionably clad in explosive-laden undies and seriously distracted by visions of the 40 virgins awaiting martyrs in heaven.

Not the kind that shows up for his mug shot decorated in bling and tats and seriously distracted by visions of the 40 non-virgins he saw in a strip club. In the arrest report, his occupation is listed as “professional football player.”

Not enjoyable weirdos like Penn & Teller, Ann Coulter or Bill Maher. Only a free-speech virgin would be seriously distracted by them.

By extremists, I mean people who, against all common sense, voted for Dean Scontras in the Republican 1st District congressional primary or people who voted for Chellie Pingree, Mike Brennan, Ethan Strimling or Mark Lawrence in the Democratic race. Right-wing wackos and loony leftists, respectively. Marginalized maniacs, collectively. And when it comes to practical politics, virgins 40 times over.

What were these candidates’ solutions for the major problems facing Maine?

Scontras wanted to make health care and heating oil affordable by banning abortion and outlawing same-sex marriage. Pingree, Brennan, Strimling and Lawrence wanted to provide cheap medical care and inexpensive fuel by impeaching George W. Bush.

I feel healthier and warmer, already.

How about the declining job market, the housing crisis and the rising cost of food? Scontras claimed illegal aliens were sucking up all the jobs, squatting in all the condos and scarfing up all the chow.

Pingree, Brennan, Strimling and Lawrence said it was all Bush’s fault, and he should be impeached.

I feel … puzzled. But that might help me forget how unemployed, homeless and hungry I am.

The war in Iraq? Scontras thought it was a mess, but if we stayed the course, it would soon turn into a more attractive mess. Pingree had two plans for ending the conflict – leave immediately, or stay awhile and then leave. Although, she said they were really the same plan. Strimling and Brennan wanted to get out right away. Ask Iran if it could help with any chores we didn’t have time to finish. Lawrence wanted to impeach Bush.

I feel like I’m having an acid flashback to the ’60s.

To be fair (ha!), all the candidates had detailed positions on this stuff. Big programs for the Democrats, except for immigration, which they don’t consider enough of a problem to merit more than a tiny federal bureaucracy. For Scontras, it was all small programs or no programs, except for immigration, which he believes – gays and abortionists notwithstanding – is the cause of most of our woes and requires a huge governmental effort.

But who cares? These radicals are done for this political season. Scontras lost the GOP race to moderate Charlie Summers. Brennan, Strimling and Lawrence lost the Dem contest to … uh oh, Pingree. So in the fall, it’ll be far-left Chellie against center-right Charlie.

Summers, who starts as the underdog, should consider reviving his primary-campaign strategy of leaving the country to serve in Iraq. Pingree, in spite of her edge in the polls, has to ease away from the ridiculous positions she took this spring to attract liberal votes. Maybe she could enlist in the military and ship out to Baghdad. Just the threat might end the war.

Meanwhile, what of Adam Cote, who finished second in the Democratic primary, in spite of starting the race as a complete unknown and taking stands on issues contrary to traditional liberal dogma? The moderate Cote got bashed by Pingree and Strimling in the closing weeks of the campaign for his heretical views (ending the war will be complicated and difficult, dealing with economic issues will require patience and cooperation, impeaching the president is a massive waste of time) and his tendency in the recent past to have registered as a Republican.

Cote may be more appealing to members of the GOP than he is to Democratic loyalists, who are resolute in supporting hardcore leftists (Pingree, Brennan, Strimling and Lawrence combined for 70 percent of the vote). In contrast, nearly 60 percent of GOP voters opted for the moderate Summers over the arch-conservative Scontras. There’s also a big pool of centrist independents sloshing around, awaiting a candidate who can float their boat. Or, possibly, a metaphor that doesn’t sink as fast as Strimling’s and Lawrence’s political stock.

In 2010, the governor’s office will be vacant. (I mean, more vacant than it is now.) Cote might decide to run as an independent. He’s proved he can attract middle-of-the-road Democratic votes. He’s lured at least two prominent Republicans into switching sides to vote for him in the primary, indicating he’d find some support in the GOP. He’s proved he can raise serious money. He might be able to excite the old Angus King coalition.

If those Democrats with gubernatorial ambitions want to avoid that confrontation, they’ll spend the next two years being nice to Adam Cote.

Extremely nice.

No need to be nice when you e-mail [email protected]


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