The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Normally the saying comes in the context of our two political parties. At the federal level, the party opposite the sitting president usually makes significant gains in a midterm election. In Maine, the last governor elected to succeed a predecessor of the same party was Gov. Burton Cross. In 1952.
But pendulums have nadirs as well, an equilibrium position. It is in the middle.
Elsewhere in the country, this past week’s primary elections have swung back toward the center. This coming week, we will see whether, as the nation goes, Maine will follow.
In San Francisco, former progressive darling Chesa Boudin was recalled from office as the District Attorney. In his 2019 campaign for DA, he was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King. Boudin was also backed by Democratic billionaire George Soros.
There are strong parallels to Maine.
In Cumberland County, the formerly unenrolled, now Democratic incumbent District Attorney is Jonathan Sahrbeck. He is opposed by Jackie Sartoris, who is presently an Assistant District Attorney in Kennebec County. Sartoris previously ran for the legislature as a Democrat.
A Soros-funded group has spent nearly $300,000 supporting her and attacking Sahrbeck. In a Democratic primary. For District Attorney. In Maine.
San Francisco of all places rejected their experiment with far left prosecution, swinging back towards an unequivocally left-leaning middle. Will Maine’s most populous county’s political pendulum fall in the same place?
Meanwhile, it appears that none of the five GOP Congressmen who voted in favor of establishing the “January 6 Commission” – and thereafter drew primary challengers – were defeated this past Tuesday. There are still ongoing intranecine fights amongst the various factions of the Republican Party, but there seems to be a focus on winning in November. That is particularly true with competitive seats.
Back in Maine, we have our own headline Republican primary. Caratunk selectwoman Liz Caruso is running to the right of former Congressman Bruce Poliquin. Odds are heavily in favor of Poliquin. And if the GOP has their eyes on November, you have to think the guy who has already won the district – two and a half times, by my count – gives Republicans the best chance at retaking the seat. Right?
Finally, with a few exceptions, the progressive flank nationally has been beaten back by more centrist Democrats. Kitchen table issues – gas prices, child care challenges, a possibly impending recession – are front of mind for many voters. Maine isn’t any different.
We will see whether we follow the trend on Tuesday. Other than the Cumberland County DA race, the biggest battle brewing is the Democratic State Senate primary centered in Orono. Local business owner Abe Furth is seeking a seat as a small business Democrat.
His campaign is supported by Senate President Troy Jackson, a favorite of progressives like former Portland mayor (and current BDN columnist) Ethan Strimling who encouraged Jackson to challenge Gov. Janet Mills. Furth’s opponent is longtime Maine People’s Alliance activist Mike Tipping (also a former BDN columnist). The fight has gotten brutal. Tipping has been accused of “gutter politics” by some of his erstwhile political allies, and he has denied those claims.
Will Penobscot County Democrats follow the national trend and reject the far-left in favor of the mostly-left?
Pendulums swing back and forth. When Democrats ebb, Republicans flow. But within the parties as well, particularly in times of trouble, voters return to the mainstream. That seems to be the national trend right now.
Will Maine follow?