Any hope that Democrats in Augusta might behave rationally and responsibly in this election year went down the drain even before the opening gavel came down to convene the second session of the 127th Legislature in early January. From my vantage point in the front row of the House chamber, it’s clear to me the most extreme, unhinged elements of the Democratic Party are in the driver’s seat at the State House.
Obsessed with removing Gov. Paul LePage from office, Democrats began beating the drum for impeachment last fall, accusing the governor of interfering in the hiring process for the next president of the state’s premier charter school in Fairfield. Notwithstanding that even after lengthy legislative hearings they couldn’t find a smoking gun — at least not in the governor’s office — Democrats made the Good Will-Hinckley controversy the centerpiece of their campaign to oust LePage.
When they brought their impeachment order to the floor of the House of Representatives in mid-January, Democratic legislative leaders Jeff McCabe and Sara Gideon effectively shut down any discussion of the rampant cronyism in state government that prompted LePage to blow the whistle on Good Will-Hinckley’s hiring of Speaker Mark Eves. Blinded by LePage Derangement Syndrome, two thirds of the Democratic caucus in the House — including McCabe and Gideon — voted to pull the trigger on impeachment, just 14 months after LePage was re-elected with more votes than any governor in Maine history.
The LePage haters don’t seem to understand that the Good Will-Hinckley scandal plays to the governor’s strength as a straight-talking, politically incorrect businessman who came to Augusta to reform state government and put an end to politics as usual. Because of his vigilance, Maine people are beginning to get a glimpse of the good old boys politics that enables part-time citizen legislators to catapult themselves into permanent high-paying jobs in Maine’s lucrative nanny-state nonprofit industrial complex.
Impeachment failed on a 96-52 roll call, but the sponsors warned that they are prepared to embark on this fool’s errand again before the session ends in late April.
A few days after the wheels flew off the impeachment bandwagon, prominent members of the Democratic Party establishment — including majority leader McCabe — held a State House press conference to endorse avowed socialist Bernie Sanders for president. Is it any wonder why LePage refers to Democratic legislators as socialists? What a spectacle to see so many members of the Maine Legislature clap like trained seals for a candidate who absolutely hates the competitive free enterprise system that built Maine and America.
Nowhere is this hostility toward capitalism more evident than in the Taxation Committee, where Democrats are dragging their feet on conforming Maine’s tax code to reflect recent business-friendly changes to the federal tax code. Democrats on the committee appear to be taking their marching orders from the far-left Maine People’s Alliance, whose lobbyist Ben Chin is a regular fixture in the committee room. Chin is a radical leftist who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Lewiston last fall, outspending his GOP opponent 15 to 1 in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1. Chin is so far to the left he can’t even buy an election in a Democrat stronghold with an army of MPA foot soldiers door-knocking and driving college students from out-of-state to the polls.
With an annual budget approaching $2 million, the Maine People’s Alliance and its twin sister nonprofit Maine People’s Resource Center are the tail that wags the Democratic donkey in Maine politics. Taxation committee chairman Rep. Adam Goode, a former employee of MPA, habitually parrots Chin’s left-wing progressive talking points. On tax conformity, Chin and Goode have managed to position themselves well to the left of President Obama, who signed the federal tax changes into law in late December.
Given this January trifecta — impeachment, Sanders, tax conformity — it’s safe to say the Democratic majority in the Legislature (the ruling class) is hopelessly out-of-step with working Maine families (the country class). In this election year, Democratic legislators can run but they can’t hide from their extremist record in Augusta. Their only hope of prevailing at the polls in November is camouflage and deflection — and the ground troops provided by the Marxist People’s Alliance.
That worn-out playbook is the left’s only hope of hanging onto power.
But something tells me the old rules of engagement won’t apply this year. I believe Augusta may be in for a long-overdue House cleaning.
Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his second term in the Maine House. Last year he co-founded the New England Opportunity Project. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.