Getting answers from this year’s crop of candidates for the U.S. House and Senate was like interviewing Bobby Valentine about the Red Sox’s playoff prospects this year — pressing for details about a moot point.
For the October issue of The Bollard, which hits the streets this week, I dutifully contacted all the candidates for the Senate and 1st Congressional District, seeking their responses to questions on matters foreign and domestic.
The 1st District candidates apparently agree on one thing: there’s nothing to be gained by talking to me. Neither Chellie Pingree nor Jon Courtney bothered to respond. I wasn’t surprised. After all, I wrote off Courtney’s chances back in July, and Pingree hasn’t spoken to me since I exposed her relationship with a politically connected hedge fund manager named Donald Sussman. That was also in July — of 2008.
Most of the six Senate candidates were willing to share their views with The Bollard’s readers. The exception was Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers.
It’s hard to pin down why Summers would take a pass on this opportunity for free press. Could be the BDN column I wrote in July, in which I wondered aloud whether Summers struggled to decide whether to be gay or straight. But when I saw the candidate and his campaign staff before a debate in Portland a couple weeks ago, they all seemed willing to participate in the guide. Granted, the column I wrote after the debate criticized Summers’ position on domestic energy production. But if that’s enough to warrant the cold shoulder, this guy’s more politically challenged than I thought.
At this point, the only question in the Senate race is how large Angus King’s margin of victory will be: big or really big?
There’s no reason to expect Summers’ poll numbers will change much between now and Nov. 6. For example, the controversial TV ads being run by the National Republican Senatorial Committee slamming King’s involvement in a wind power project are not going to convince voters concerned about energy that Summers, a global-warming denier and nuclear power advocate, has the more responsible position on this issue.
National GOP groups realize that Summers’ only hope is the possibility Democrat Cynthia Dill will draw enough votes away from King to give Summers the win. But Dill’s campaign is already out of ammo, and lately she’s been firing blanks.
Dill’s made the point that King wants to preserve the Bush-era tax cuts for millionaires like himself and preserve Americans’ right to terrorize their fellow citizens with assault weapons. She’s also hit King on his qualified support of the Keystone XL pipeline and the controversial natural-gas-extraction method known as fracking.
The liberal voters who care about those issues are already in her column, so what else does Dill, a distant third in recent polls, have against the front-runner?
This week she grabbed headlines by calling for King and Summers to release all the tax returns they’ve filed over the past decade. In the letter she sent to her opponents, she claimed the disclosure would promote “more civility, openness and transparency” in the race.
The civility argument is laughable (and the other two are synonyms). Dill’s trying to stockpile rhetorical weaponry for a class-warfare campaign against King, but voters already know he’s loaded. They also know what a pain in the butt it would be if they had to produce all their tax returns for the past 10 years on short notice. Dill’s stunt only makes her seem like a nag.
I wish I could report that any of the other three candidates in this race will be a factor, but that would be a lie.
Atop the “Media” section of Yarmouth businessman Steve Woods’ campaign Web site, visitors are encouraged to “listen to Steve describe his endorsement of Angus King.” No thanks.
Former soldier and drug agent Danny Dalton of Brunswick is leading the pack in the Portland Press Herald’s online poll — for reasons Dalton himself can’t explain. But back in the real world, Dalton’s campaign has been unable to gain any traction (in part because his daily paper is ignoring him, for reasons its editors won’t explain).
That leaves Andrew Ian Dodge, the Tea Party Republican turned Libertarian. If anything, Dodge’s candidacy will draw votes away from Summers, making King’s lead even larger.
Absent a last-minute meltdown, I can imagine only one thing capable of stopping King’s march to victory: the enthusiastic endorsement of King’s candidacy by Gov. Paul LePage.
Don’t tell me they haven’t considered it.
Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard, a monthly magazine about Portland. His column appears here weekly.