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The Maine political cataclysm: tough choices for voters in The Pine Tree State

The debacle in Maine has led to one of the Republican Senate primary candidates leaving the party. Read why...

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The Snowe has melted away, but what will take her place?
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Andrew Ian Dodge
On 2 March 2012 11:52

The last 10 days in Maine politics have been quite dramatic although determining exactly when the descent into chaos began is open to question. Running as a primary candidate for US Senate was never going to be easy - but who could have predicted such events?

I have a few ideas on how it all went down. My reaction to it all started with my leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent. It was a difficult decision for me as a former Young Republican Chairman for Maine and a member of the Republican Party since I was old enough to vote, but events made it impossible for me to stay.

I was disgusted by the adverts circulated by Charlie Webster, chairman of the Republican Party of Maine, on the "same day voting" registration referendum last November 2011. (The referendum sought to bring back same day of election voter registration which the legislature had banned a few months before. The referendum won by a large majority).

I found the adverts to be homophobic and xenophobic and subsequently called for him to resign. Nevertheless Charlie Webster remains the head of the Republican Party of Maine and is to my mind responsible for the Presidential caucus farce. The Republican Party of Maine decided it would declare a winner on February 11th despite the fact almost twenty towns had not voted yet, several being cancelled by snow. The excuses for the "mistake" were ludicrous including the infamous spam excuse.

   

This seemingly purposeful disenfranchisement and vote suppression flies in the face of the reason I got involved in the Tea Party movement in 2009. I believe that we need as many people involved in the process rather than as few as possible. 

Webster called anyone criticizing the results "wingnuts". The fact he is still in his job speaks volumes. I received emails and calls from friends and supporters doubting whether or not the primary process would be fair and suggesting I leave the Republican Party. My Northern Maine spokesman and organizer Randy Hughes-King left the party the Monday after the caucus result announcement.

We have a history of electing independents to high office in Maine. In fact in the last governor's race an independent, Elliot Cutler, lost by less than one percent. The largest "party" in Maine is "unenrolled" who are neither Democrat nor Republican. Mainers it seems, are very independent minded and respect people willing to stand up for something outside the party framework. I know my message of limited government and fiscal prudence will resonate with hard-working Mainers frustrated by their out of touch party elites as I continue my campaign.

Recently, Senator Snowe realised that a three-way fight for the US Senate might not give her the right result and therefore announced that she is not running for re-election. There is now a mad scramble on both the Democrat and Republican side by people desperate to take the seat. They have until March 15 to collect 2000 valid signatures from their respective party members. Then the people of Maine witness with a mixture of amusement and horror, a multitude of people of both sides tearing each other to shreds in the lead up to their primaries in early June. 

Maybe the Mayans were right, 2012 is the year of the Maine political cataclysm.

Andrew Ian Dodge is former Tea Party Patriots coordinator for Maine and a Libertarian candidate for Senate. You can follow his campaign at: @DodgeForSenate

Read more on: andrew ian dodge, olympia snowe, Maine caucuses, maine primary, charlie webster, democrats, republicans, GOP, Tea party, and elliot cutler
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