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

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Ethan: Are you a fan of The Who?

Phil: Let’s just say, “The Kids are Alright!

Ethan: An appropriate quote describing the Maine Democratic Party these days. In contrast, an appropriate quote for the Maine Republican party would be, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Phil: Would you be referring to former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and former Gov. Paul LePage making another run at their former jobs?

Ethan: Indeed. “Former” being the operative term. Is your party’s only hope for the future bringing back two guys who were tossed or term-limited out of office, respectively?

Phil:  News flash, you are also describing the two of us, respectively.

Ethan: Ha! Good point. Seriously, are there really no new faces available from your side of the aisle?

Phil: Coming from a guy who’s party has a 78-year-old in the White House, a 70-year-old leader of the U.S. Senate, and an 81-year-old Speaker of the House. Not to mention our current Blaine House occupant, Democrat Gov. Janet Mills, is 73; a year older than LePage!

Ethan: My reference to LePage and Poliquin is not based on age. It’s about ideas. I have a friend who was a stagehand for a rock ‘n roll venue in the 1990s who told me that when Billy Joel came to play, a fellow union worker asked Joel what he was gonna play that night. Billy said, “The oldies. Because that’s all I got.” That sounds like the Maine Republican Party.

Phil: Your references to ‘70s rock icons is nostalgic, yet during times like these, experience is what matters most. From Afghanistan to the COVID delta variant to the labor shortage to reckless spending and the unprotected southern border, I believe voters are craving people who have successfully steered the ship of state to retake the helm when rough seas are before us.

Ethan: Mainers do value government experience. Janet Mills and Gov. John Baldacci had decades of experience before they won the Blaine House. They both beat opponents who had zero to very little (Shawn Moody and Peter Cianchette, respectively). Not the case here.

Phil: A newcomer could never win in these turbulent times. As much as I disagree with Joe Biden, it was ordained for Democrats to nominate him. People wanted change from President Donald Trump, but would not have elected a newbie to the White House like Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Corey Booker, or even Bernie Sanders who has never had to make an executive decision.

Ethan: Perhaps, but even if true, what you never see at this level of government is Maine people ousting an incumbent to bring back the previous occupant.

Phil: Based on what evidence?

Ethan: Gov. Joe Brennan in 1990.

Phil: Political science is not built on one election. Other than Brennan, no one else has even tried it in the last 40 years.

Ethan: Maybe that’s because most seasoned politicians understand when their time has come — and gone.

Phil: Every election demands a different set of skills. Sometimes people need something fresh and new. Sometimes they need experience. 2022 will be an election where voters want change, but they will want change that is replaced with experience.

Ethan: If I were Republican, I’d be concerned that all the new folks who ran in 2018 and 2020 are being relegated to the back of the bus: Adrienne Bennett, Eric Brakey, Dale Crafts, Shawn Moody, Mary Mayhew, Ken Fredette and Garret Mason. A generation of Republicans are now gone.

Phil: Have no fear. Once we get some experienced hands back at the wheel, lots of opportunities will arise for our best and brightest.

Ethan: With apologies to Pete Townsend, here’s hoping they don’t die before they get old …