Political analysts and former state senators Ethan Strimling and Phil Harriman discuss Ethan’s predictions for 2015.

Phil: First of all, congratulations on besting conservative blogger Matt Gagnon with your 2014 predictions. After the drubbing I gave you on Election Day, I’m relieved that you have regained your self-esteem in time for 2015.

Ethan: Much appreciated. Let’s hope he pays up with a spirited video extolling the virtues of the Democratic Party, as we wagered.

But more importantly, what did you think of my 2015 predictions? Pretty bold, huh?. Mitt Romney will enter the race for president. Gov. Paul LePage will veto fewer than 20 bills. Emily Cain will get a Democratic challenger in her bid for a rematch against Bruce Poliquin. Clean Elections will win at the ballot box. And, perhaps my boldest of all, state government will shut down over the budget particulars LePage is about to present.

Phil: You must have been overserved adult beverages during the holidays over a few of those. Particularly that last one.

From my conversations with our newly re-elected chief executive, he seems very excited at the mandate he received from voters and appears warmed by the approach of the newly elected legislative leaders. I predict just the opposite. I think the Legislature will pass a budget with well over the two-thirds needed.

Ethan: Not if his budget eliminates the income tax, slashes General Assistance, wipes out municipal revenue sharing, codifies right-to-work, chops state employee jobs and all the other stuff I am expecting. My sense is that he is going to go all out. This is his last term, and he has nothing left to lose.

Phil: You clearly were overserved. While I do agree that he is ready to go big, and he expects the Legislature to accept that he was just elected with the largest number of votes in decades, he is also practical and smart.

Ethan: Smart, I will agree. Practical? He has yet to show that side in politics. Will he understand that the Legislature must face the voters again, whereas he will not? Will he be willing to compromise with the Democratic House, which was also elected with a mandate? I hope so, but if not, look for sleeping bags in the rotunda come July.

Phil: As for your prediction that Romney will enter the race for president? Not gonna happen. He had his shot. It’s time for new blood to inspire our hopes and dreams.

Ethan: You’re delusional. With no front-runner emerging, he’s gonna do like Ronald Reagan and believe the third time’s the charm.

Phil: But a front-runner will emerge. And my prediction is that Jeb Bush will be that front-runner. By the end of 2015, Bush will be leading in Iowa.

Ethan: Your party seems hell-bent on going back to the days when England ruled us by simply handing the crown to their first-born son.

Phil: However, in Maine, the Republican front-runner will be Chris Christie. My party likes those candid, straight-talking governors.

Ethan: I hope he doesn’t get LePage to shut down the Casco Bay Bridge in retaliation for my saying it, but no way Christie gets the nomination. I predict it will be Rick Perry. I have always thought he was your strongest chance.

Phil: Now, are you ready for something truly bold in presidential political predictions? I predict that Hillary Clinton will not enter the fray for president. At which point, all hell breaks out on your side of the aisle as Democrats look for a standard bearer to play catch-up. Mark it down.

Ethan: What? No way. She is in with both feet! Not only will she run, she will win the nomination and become our first woman president. Mark it down.

Phil: OK, now let’s get back to more of your predictions. I believe welfare for politicians — er … “Clean Elections” — will not win at the ballot box, as you predict. I certainly don’t think minimum wage should be on the ballot, but I expect you are correct that they will get the needed signatures.

While I do agree with you that LePage will not succeed at completely eliminating the income tax, I do think he will succeed at cutting it in half (albeit over a few years), with special focus on reducing taxes for seniors/retirees. And Republicans in Congress will find the votes to repeal President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration. If nothing else, our system of checks and balances depends on it.

Ethan: Republicans in Congress are all bluster and no action when it comes to immigration reform. That said, instead of simply dumping all over my predictions, how about a few of your own?

Phil: In 2015, LePage will reduce the size of state government by 5 percent, he will succeed in further reducing municipal revenue sharing and he will change state law to permit municipalities to tax nonprofits.

The Legislature will pass major welfare reform and reduce energy costs by welcoming in more natural gas and hydro. And unemployment will drop to 5 percent or lower, helping Emily Cain find her first-ever full-time private-sector job.

Ethan: I expect you are correct on the unemployment rate, since Obama’s policies have clearly gotten the economy back on track.

Phil Harriman is a former Republican state senator from Yarmouth. Ethan Strimling is a former Democratic state senator from Portland. They can be contacted on Facebook at Agree to Disagree or Twitter: @senpeh and @ethan6_2.

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