Friday, October 05, 2018


In a long speech this afternoon, Susan Collins announced that she'll vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Some people thought that outcome was in doubt.

I don't buy that, for a simple reason.

New England is regarded as a very blue region of the country, but a majority of its governors are Republicans. However, the Republican governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont aren't as knuckle-draggingly awful as Maine's Paul LePage, who was Donald Trump before Trump was Trump. It's true that LePage didn't win a majority of the vote in either of his gubernatorial victories -- independent Eliot Cutler made both contests into three-way races -- but in 2014 LePage won 48% of the vote. That's a clear indication that in Maine -- the oldest, whitest and most rural state in the union -- there's an appetite for right-wing politics that doesn't exist to the same extent in, say, Massachusetts or Vermont.

Which means that if Collins intends to run for reelection in 2020, she would have been at serious risk of being primaried successfully from the right had she voted no on Kavanaugh, as Politico recently noted:
For Collins, how she comes down on Kavanaugh could sink her in a GOP primary in 2020....

... if Collins were to vote against Kavanaugh, she might have to run as an independent or mirror Murkowski’s 2010 write-in bid if she were to lose a primary, several senators said privately.
Two years ago, LePage himself threatened to primary Angus King, Maine's other senator, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and who is up for reelection this year. The challenge never happened -- but LePage is in the last year of his second term as governor and is term-limited. Would he run against Collins if he were out of office? Would another Trumpian? Someone to the right of Collins would likely have run against her if she'd voted against Kavanaugh. She might still face a challenge from her right, but now she has a chance of surviving a primary.

Of course, the overall electorate in Maine is more moderate-to-liberal -- which is why Collins had to put on the Hamlet act, and why she had to insist that Kavanaugh is himself the soul of moderation.

Please, Mainers, don't be fooled by this anymore. Vote her out. Vote the way you do in presidential races and pick a Democrat this time.

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