Last week, I presented my list of Maine’s wimpiest political figures. Now, it’s time for the tough stuff. Here are the state’s most unyielding electoral warriors, ranked by increasing degree of what I’ll politely call “intestinal fortitude.”
10. Roger Katz. A Republican state senator with the gall to declare Donald Trump “not fit to be president” and to publish a 2013 op-ed criticizing his own party’s governor. He said Paul LePage exhibited behavior “I have never seen in Maine politics, and could never imagine coming from a Republican.” Subsequently, Katz took so many hard shots from LePage that if he doesn’t have a concussion, his head should be the model for safety helmets.
9. Brent Littlefield. The GOP operative most responsible for the elections of LePage and 2nd District Congressman Bruce Poliquin keeps a low profile, not because he’s afraid to mix it up, but to avoid distracting from his candidates’ carefully controlled messages. His playbook also calls for relentless attacks on opponents that make up in effectiveness what they lack in accuracy.
8. Mike Tipping. The front man for the left-wing Maine People’s Alliance is a lightning rod for conservative criticism, but shakes it off like rainwater. His unassuming manner can be deceptive. Tipping is every bit as nasty as Littlefield, but way better at disguising it.
7. Diane Russell. She lost a June Democratic state Senate primary in Portland, but not before severely wounding her opponent. Russell, serving her final months as a state representative, has a world-class fundraising network (a frequent source of ethics violations) and an army of minions (less cute than the movie kind). She kicked butt at the Democratic National Convention to revise superdelegate rules. She’ll be back sooner than you think.
6. Eric Brakey. In 2012, the Auburn libertarian upended the GOP state convention and threatened to do the same on the national level. In 2014, political experts gave him zero chance of winning a state Senate seat against a well-known Democrat, but he did. Since then, he’s wielded more influence in Augusta than would normally be expected from a guy who constitutes a caucus of one. Dismiss him as a kook at your risk.
5. Mary Mayhew. The state Department of Health and Human Services was a disaster before she became commissioner and still is – only more so. Mayhew has driven out the few competent people, invited an assortment of federal sanctions, attempted to send crazy people to prison and delayed new lead-poisoning standards. But welfare rolls are down, so naturally, she’s running for governor.
4. Robert Macdonald. Lewiston’s mayor survived an all-out attack in the last election by Tipping’s liberal army, not to mention overcoming his ill-considered remarks about Somali immigrants (they should “leave their culture at the door”) and welfare recipients: “a victimized protected class. It’s none of your business how much of your money they get and spend. Who are you to question it? Just shut up and pay!”
3. Janet Mills. Maine’s Democratic attorney general wants to be the next governor. To that end, she’s unhesitant about crushing potential rivals (that stain on the bottom of her combat boot resembles House Speaker Mark Eves). She stays in fighting trim (as well as the public eye) by going a few rounds with LePage over the governor’s inept attempts to circumvent assorted laws. Mills also knows twice as many swear words as you do.
2. John Martin. I’m not saying politicians who’ve dared cross this former Democratic House speaker and current state representative were later found floating facedown in the Kennebec River. I’m not saying his arrival is always preceded by the odor of sulfur and brimstone. And I’m not saying Martin controls the inner workings of the Legislature from his secret bunker buried deep beneath Eagle Lake. I’m not saying any of that. Really.
1. Paul LePage. The governor doesn’t need your facts. He’s got his own. They come from an alternate dimension filled with solid, conservative facts. Because this dimension’s facts are deceitful products of conspiracies concocted by big-spending liberals and the biased news media. But they’re no match for LePage. He’ll beat their facts like NFL players beat their girlfriends. Is that politically incorrect? He doesn’t care. Because it’s a fact. One of his very own.
Tough luck if you don’t like my list. But email me anyhow at firstname.lastname@example.org.