Remember when they used to say “All politics is local”?

That might have been partly true when members of Congress were known only for how much money they could siphon home from Washington, but it’s hardly true at all today in the era of 24-hour cable news and social media. No issue is too remote to matter in a local race these days, and no local issue is big enough to completely obscure a national trend.

We like to think we’re special, but we’re not.

Look at Waterville: The city just had a recall election for Mayor Nick Isgro that had nothing to do with municipal issues like potholes or tax rates and everything to do with a mean tweet he sent about Florida school shooting survivor David Hogg. Isgro barely kept his job, but he did not see his 91-vote victory as an opportunity to make peace, choosing instead to lash out at his opponents and the news media. Sound familiar?

Forget about all politics being local – local politics isn’t even local anymore. And that’s what we saw in this year’s primaries in Maine.

On the Republican side, we witnessed Donald Trump’s complete takeover of the party with a blend of nativism, nationalism and nostalgia that has more to do with Fox News than Dover-Foxcroft.


Unlike the 2010 primary, when Republicans ran an ideologically diverse group of seven candidates that included four moderates, there were only four candidates this year, all competing to be the next Paul LePage, who was Trump in Maine before Trumpism became a thing.

The hands-down winner was Shawn Moody, who began his campaign with an interview in which he suggested sending the Maine National Guard to our southwestern border to keep out “illegals” and drugs. In case you’re wondering, he was talking about Texas, not Parsonsfield.

In his Election Night victory speech he declared, “North, south, east and west, it’s about all of us, it’s about Mainers and we are going to take our state back!”

It’s a strange thing for a Republican to say, when a two-term Republican governor lives in the Blaine House, and his party has controlled at least one body of the Legislature for six of the last eight years. But Moody later explained that he was talking about the out-of-state special interest groups that he says are behind referendum campaigns to increase school funding, bump up the minimum wage, expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana and introduce ranked-choice voting, which all received majority support from voters at the polls.

So, are we supposed to take our state back from ourselves? I guess it depends on how you define “all of us.” If this race is close, expect to hear a lot more about immigration and out-of-staters.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Janet Mills got the most votes on Election Day, but it will be a while before she delivers an acceptance speech. Unlike Moody, she didn’t get more than 50 percent of the first-place votes in her primary, but she is going into the ranked-choice runoffs with a lead of about 5,000 votes. To overtake her, second-place candidate Adam Cote would need to be ranked ahead of her in about 60 percent of the ballots that were cast for other candidates. He’s not out of it, but it’s a hard road.


If Mills is the nominee, she will represent the other dominant political trend in the country right now: the emergence of women, who began organizing in opposition to Trump but have made a much broader critique of what’s wrong with an unequal America through movements like #MeToo.

There are more women running for office this year than at any time in our history, both nationally and in Maine, and most of them are Democrats. No Democratic woman lost a Maine primary to a man Tuesday.

Any Democrat would have a hard time in this governor’s race because the two parties will share the field with two independents, both former Democrats, and without the benefit of ranked-choice voting. But if there is going to be a Democratic governor in Maine next year, it won’t be because of their bond packages or their tax policies or any of the usual issues that dominate state campaigns.

It will be because women turned out and voted in record numbers. It will be because the January 2017 Women’s March in Washington set off a wave of mobilization that swept all the way to Maine.

It will be because, with all due respect to Tip O’Neill, all politics is national now.

Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at:

Twitter: gregkesich

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