Thursday, May 3, 2012

Maine GOP Senate Race Over

After several forums featuring the GOP contenders for the Senate seat of Olympia Snowe, a loser can be proclaimed: the people of Maine. For all intensive political purposes the race is over, who wins doesn’t really matter all that much.

But wait a minute you say. We haven’t heard their speeches at the big GOP conclave this coming weekend. Surely there are more forums to come at which to posture and pander. Poliquin hasn’t started to spend his unreported big bucks on ads yet. Summers and Schnieder haven’t concluded their fiercest warrior struggle yet. Bennett hasn’t rowed his boat quite all the way to the right hand shore yet. And D'Amboise and Plowman haven’t finished their tea chugging contest yet.

It’s over because we know the type of candidate that will emerge no matter who wins the primary. The election is between the far right of the Republican Party and its far, far, right. The nominee will either be an acolyte of Jim DeMint preventing forward progress and reasoned compromise or a disciple of Mitch McConnell preventing forward progress and reasoned compromise. Either will cast the necessary cloture votes as directed by the Senate Republican leadership to prevent consideration of legislation that would be passed by a majority or in the case of a GOP Senate takeover, the necessary opposite maneuverings.

Perhaps the most telling part in the campaign is that not a single candidate is saying, “I want to step into the shoes of Senator Olympia Snowe, fight for the collegiality and compromise she believed in and continue in the great moderate tradition of Senate representation from Maine of the center of the road beliefs of its citizens. Her leadership is vital to continue; her moderate voice is needed now more than ever, her centrist colleague, our trusted and valued Senator Susan Collins, deserves an ally.”

That speech isn’t coming. Never mind that Olympia Snowe’s myth of moderation was always very overstated when her voting record was examined despite a handful of crossover votes and some degree of moderate reception to environmental issues and the important concerns of women. But that storyline was the basis of her success at the polls and today’s GOP aspirants for her seat have rejected it utterly and in total.

Thus the nomination is already sewed up and the Republican entrant into the general election field is already known. The moderate and centrist positioning to gain statewide election that drew Republicans in large numbers, independents in good numbers, and Democrats in enough numbers to elect someone like Senator Snowe is passé. Prepare for the full throated tea party, haven’t met a far right litmus test that couldn’t be passed, well sound bite scripted anti-tax, anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-reform, anti-environment, anti-worker, anti-compromise, anti-Obama voice. In all frankness, all that remains is to see the personality and financial packaging of the hawker.