MATTHEW GAGNON

Eight bold predictions for 2012

Posted Dec. 29, 2011, at 4:49 p.m.

I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t so much a fan of 2011. I’ve been looking forward to next year for, well, most of this year.

Maybe it was just a crummy year. Maybe I’m just an optimist, always looking toward greener pastures. Maybe I am one of the sick, twisted individuals who looks forward to presidential campaigns and can’t wait for them to begin in earnest.

Who knows, but 2012 can’t come quick enough for me, and since that is happening soon, I’m in a good mood. So in the spirit of the holiday season, I have a gift for you: Eight bold predictions for the coming year, guaranteed to be right, 62.8 percent of the time.

Bold prediction No. 1

Paul LePage will have a better year. The new governor had a series of big wins this year, but his first year in office was undoubtedly defined by the trouble he got himself into. A great deal of time (and newspaper ink) was spent dissecting LePage’s verbal acrobatics, which distracted from agenda in a big way.

Not so in 2012. LePage may still grab headlines for saying something impolitic, and he is still very much the same unscripted, gruff communicator he always was, but he seems to have gotten a handle on things and will spend his sophomore year with a more deliberate and disciplined approach to governing.

Bold prediction No. 2

The Legislature will do some big things. Maine Republicans are afraid they might lose power after the coming legislative elections and are going to want to get a lot done just in case. That means they are going to try to tackle big reforms, entrenched problems and cross off a number of things on their wish list. They may never get as good a chance as they have now.

Bold prediction No. 3

Same-sex marriage will come to Maine. It looks like Maine voters will once again be asked their opinion on the extension of marriage to same-sex couples next November, and count me among the people who think that this time the push will be successful.

Bold prediction No. 4

Once it does, the universe will not implode. Write that down.

Bold prediction No. 5

President Obama will win Maine by seven points. There’s a presidential election next year, and no Republican has won Maine since 1988. That won’t change in 2012, though the president’s margin of victory will be significantly smaller than the 17-point drubbing he gave John McCain in 2008.

Bold prediction No. 6

The Republicans will retain the Maine Senate but lose the House. GOP lawmakers have acquitted themselves admirably in their time in government, but that won’t save them in the State House. President Obama’s coattails in Maine will have a significant down-ballot impact, and the Democrats will return to power in that body by a small, but comfortable margin.

Bold prediction No. 7

Mike Michaud and Kevin Raye will have a knock-down, drag out brawl in the 2nd Congressional District that will ultimately be decided by four points or less. The race will be quirky, polite in public and nasty behind the scenes, and in the end Raye will be the last man standing.

Bold prediction No. 8

You will not like some of the things I say. I mean that for each and every person reading this column.

If you are a conservative Republican who has come to enjoy my needling of the left, be prepared, because I take just as much joy in throwing punches at my own side of the aisle and have a few columns in the hopper which you will absolutely hate me for. And if you are a liberal Democrat, well, you already don’t like most of what I say.

In these predictions I have the utmost confidence. Just do me a favor and don’t clip this and remind me of what I predicted next December.

Matthew Gagnon, a Hampden native, is a Republican political strategist. He previously worked for Sen. Susan Collins and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. You can reach him at matthew.o.gagnon@gmail.com and read his blog at www.pinetreepolitics.com.

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