The condition of our political system remains grim. The draining of the swamp has in fact produced quicksand. One after another, members of the Trump team depart, some voluntarily, others forced out. It is not smart to disagree with the president. The latest to go was the president’s chief economic adviser. Gary Cohn did not agree on going to war even with our friends over trade tariffs.

Unbelievably, the Republicans are about to do it again. The GOP, unable to agree with each other, led by an unpredictable president, is well on the way to spoiling all of the great gains made in the economy since Donald Trump’s election.

Time and again, especially in recent history, the Republican Party has fallen on its own sword and spoiled impressive advances. Momentum and sentiment, fueled by personal hatred for the president, is shifting towards the Democrats nationally (unless Trump should suddenly succeed with North Korea). Unfortunately, centrist views of the majority of Americans are no better served by the burgeoning progressivism of the party of Pelosi, Schumer and Warren.

On the local scene, the newly found enthusiasm of the Democrats nationally may not be evident here. The Democrats held their caucuses in Maine last weekend and the result was unimpressive. Few candidates for governor and legislative seats appeared personally at local gatherings. Attorney General Janet Mills and attorney and decorated veteran Adam Cote continue to look like front runners for the June primary.

Nobody expects independent Sen. Angus King or First District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, D, to face any serious competition. But Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin’s re-election bid in the Second District will be contentious. Poliquin’s fate rides with President Trump in the months ahead.

In Augusta, 40 or fewer participated in the caucus. Enthusiasm was muted to the point that unless somebody emerges fairly soon, it appears that the Democrats are willing to gamble away a real chance at grabbing the upcoming term-limited Senate seat belonging to Republican Roger Katz. It seems that no one other than John Glowa Sr., of China, is willing to seek the critical open seat, which could provide the margin of control in an almost equally divided body, currently held by the Republicans.


Unless Glowa, best known as “wolfman” for his role as president of the Maine Wolf Coalition, pulls the upset of the century, the Senate seat will remain in the Republican column. Glowa lost a run for state representative last election. Republican Rep. Matt Pouliot, a Katz protege, appears poised to succeed his mentor.

Meanwhile, as Pouliot prepares to vacate his representative seat after three terms, it apparently hasn’t been easy to find candidates for that seat. The incumbent Augusta city councilor at-large, Jen Day, has answered the call and will run for the Democratic nomination. A political unknown, Justin Fecteau, has been recruited by the Republicans.

What may make this race interesting is the potential effect of what is referred to in political circles as “native politics.” This legislative district is composed of Augusta’s heavily Franco-American Ward 3 and a much smaller portion of Ward 1.

Newcomer Fecteau, carrying a well-respected Franco surname in the north end, resides in Ward 3. Day, who lives in Ward 1, has named well-known Ward 3 native and public servant Pat Paradis as her treasurer. Recent Community Award winner and former Councilman Cecil Munson will assist in Day’s campaign.

Since my column on ranked-choice voting, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has certified the citizen petitions and it is official — those of you who will vote in the June primaries will make history. This wrong-headed idea was given birth on the West Coast.

People do not understand here that the primary purpose behind ranked choice is to empower more minority candidates an opportunity to win office without finishing first on the ballot. Folks who think this system gives them a broader voice at selection are misguided. A candidate who does not receiving the most first-place votes in a multi-candidate field does not deserve to be declared winner. And certainly no candidate finishing first should ever be denied victory.

The unintended consequences of a second- or even third-place candidate being declared the winner is dumbfounding. A much more sensible idea for expanded competition and participation would be open primaries.

Finally, have you noticed how much time lame-duck Gov. Paul LePage is spending in Washington? In addition to being invited to sit in on some of President Trump’s meetings, LePage and first lady Ann recently attended the national governor’s conference ball. Prediction — LePage ends up in Washington after all.

Don Roberts is a veteran broadcaster, writer and political consultant. He has served Augusta as a city councilor at-large, charter commission vice chairman and utilities district treasurer.

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