Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling (right). Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Ethan: I noticed that Democratic Rep. Jared Golden received more votes in his uncontested 2nd Congressional District primary on July 14 than all three of the Republican candidates combined. Is your party having a little enthusiasm problem?

Phil: Nope. We just didn’t have all that Chuck Schumer money that is driving turnout for U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon. You know, the trickle-down effect. In the fall, Republicans will be suited up and ready to go!

Ethan: So, now that the dust has settled and former state Rep. Dale Crafts has officially been named the nominee, do you think he will ultimately lose by single or double digits?

Phil: You are funny. Neither.

Ethan: Well, he can’t lose by triple digits!

Phil: Stand-up comic Strim in the house! Here’s the sobering message: Underestimate Crafts at your own peril. And overestimate Golden, please!

Ethan: The way I see it, aside from the basic campaign dynamics which greatly favor Golden ( money and mood), Golden said he would be an independent voice for his district and he has stayed true. Love or hate his individual votes, he stood up to Trump and to Democratic Party leadership every time he felt they were out of step.

Phil: What you claim as independence, the rest of us see as pandering. Golden has become a typical flip-flopping politician. He received a D rating from the NRA in 2018, which helped him win his liberal Democratic primary, but then he started voting against gun control as soon as he got to Congress. He voted for one article of impeachment against President Donald Trump, but against the other. He voted for the economic stimulus package, before voting against extending basically the same package.

Ethan: While Golden has certainly been more reasonable on gun safety over his career than Crafts, who follows NRA orders, Golden opposed the statewide referendum expanding background checks on guns (much to my chagrin) and received bad grades from at least one pro-gun group because he didn’t fill out their special interest questionnaire (much to my pleasure).

Phil: Actually, he likely received a D because he opposed constitutional carry three times, he hired a pro gun control advocate to be on his campaign, and then, Mr. Gun Control himself, Michael Bloomberg “bought” him a seat in Congress. And now, when his vote doesn’t matter, he votes as if he supports the Second Amendment. Typical politician.

Ethan: You are barking up the wrong tree on this one. As you know, I have been one of the strongest advocates for gun control in the state. Golden simply is not a card-carrying member of Everytown For Gun Safety. Plus, it is pretty tough to attack a former Marine on guns.

Phil: So how do you justify Golden voting to impeach the president before he voted not to?

Ethan: Just like Bill Cohen before him, he voted to impeach on the article he thought was correct and against the one that didn’t meet his standard.

Phil: You are straining yourself, Mr. Mayor. It was pure politics. Trump won the 2nd District handily last time and Golden is simply trying to hedge his bets. As I said, a typical flip-flopping politician.

Ethan: A typical politician doesn’t buck their own leadership and party base by voting their conscience. But that is something Crafts seems to have no clue about, since his loyalty to former Gov. Paul LePage is what pretty much got the former governor to endorse him.

Phil: And what’s your defense of Golden supporting the stimulus before he opposed it?

Ethan: Yawn. Golden saw the second bill as just a negotiating gambit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Assuming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gets around to acting like he cares about ordinary Americans again and the final stimulus package has adequate protections for workers, aid to state and local governments, and it fixes all the problems with the Paycheck Protection Program, I presume Golden will vote for it.

Phil: Yet another opportunity for him to vote both ways on a bill so he can say one thing to the Chamber of Commerce and another to unemployed workers. Strim have you actually traveled through the 2nd District lately?

Ethan: I was actually Down East last week.

Phil: Well, if you spoke to anyone, I suspect you know deep down that Crafts isn’t going to lose by single digits, let alone triple.

Ethan: Yeah, I think it will be double.

Phil Harriman served as a town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth. Ethan Strimling served as mayor and state senator from Portland.