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

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Phil: For our penultimate column before Election Day, I thought it might be good to provide our final takes on the most important race in Maine in the last two decades.

Ethan: Portland’s Council District 5 race between Kate Sykes, Mark Dion and Jon Coyne?

Phil: You do know there is life on earth outside Portland, right? I’m referring to Susan Collins versus Sara Gideon.

Ethan: Got it.

Phil: Let’s offer one last seminar of our best arguments for who should win and why. Why don’t you go first?

Ethan: My best argument for why Sara Gideon should win? Mitch McConnell.

Phil: As if Gideon won’t follow Chuck, “I spent $14 million to elect you” Schumer.

Ethan: Except Collins’ chosen leader spent $23 million to re-elect her and is already responsible for packing the courts with right-wing extremists, blocking a stimulus the American people desperately need, repeatedly trying to gut the Affordable Care Act, cutting taxes on wealthy corporations and enabling perhaps the most corrupt president America has ever seen.

Phil: Do you blame Maine’s drought on this man as well?

Ethan: Well, actually …

Phil: Let’s focus on the two candidates who are actually on the ballot, not some outside boogeyman — especially since one of the candidates lacks the experience to become a U.S. senator. Which is why we should re-elect Collins. And I would say Gideon’s agenda, from my observation, will result in increased taxes, more regulation and another step closer to our healthcare system run by government regulators.

Ethan: Is it also her fault that babies cry at night?

Phil: No, but she should have used her power to persuade the governor to compel the Legislature back into session. This was a missed opportunity to show her ability to lead us during a challenging time and demonstrate the willingness to cast difficult votes in the midst of her campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Ethan: Once Republicans refused to even vote on whether to have another session, which is constitutionally required, everyone understood this was just political games. But you know as well as I do, this race is not about Gideon, it is about Collins and her voting with Trump 94 percent of the time.

Phil: On the key issues she is only with him 67 percent of the time. What disappoints me most about this race is how the partisan vitriol has drowned out the record of one of the last moderate Republicans in the U.S. Senate. For two decades, Collins has served with distinction, often incurring the wrath of her party, including most recently when she said she will not vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett before the election. Voting against Collins because you don’t like Trump makes no sense to me.

Ethan: Sorry, Phil. Collins bears the responsibility for her own reputation. Her votes in the past four years have exposed her “moderate” image. She has had real opportunities to stand up to this president, but she has not.

Phil: The website fivethirtyeight.com shows her as having the lowest rates of voting with the president of any Republican. She stood up to him on bills reversing environmental emissions standards, emergency funding for the border wall, and the Affordable Care Act, to name just a few.

Ethan: The problem is that on the big stuff like packing the courts, supporting budget busting tax cuts for the rich, and perhaps most importantly, holding the president accountable, she has let Maine people down. If she loses, her downfall will be of her own making.

Phil: Or you might have said, judges were appointed by someone you don’t like, the tax bill also lowered taxes for the poorest and can motivate companies to bring jobs back to America, and that it wasn’t Trump who was working with Russia, it was the Clinton campaign making it up.

Ethan: Nothing like a good conspiracy theory to round out this column!

Phil: You feel like making a prediction on who will win this race?

Ethan: I will next week when we do our pre-Election Day predictions column. You feeling that blue wave?

Phil: Don’t get ahead of yourself like you did in 2016. Next week all will be revealed.

Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.