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Like sheep led to slaughter

Conservatives are dancing in the streets.

Being conservatives, the dances they’re doing are 20 years out of date, all music has been screened for suggestive lyrics, and no same-sex couples are allowed. Nevertheless, neckties are being loosened, and sensible shoes are being kicked off in uncharacteristic displays of unbridled joy. But rest assured, before the right-wingers succumbed to wild abandon, they received all required permits from local police.

The cause of this outburst of reactionary emotion is the announcement by Republican state Representative Brian Duprey of Hampden that he’s considering running against moderate US Senator Olympia Snowe in the GOP primary next year.

Duprey told the Christian Civic League of Maine’s online newsletter, "If I can raise enough seed money to kick off a credible campaign, I will take the initiative and run." He also issued a warning to Snowe: "I will be watching her voting record very carefully. If she votes against President Bush’s judicial nominees or tries to block the president’s agenda, it will speed up my decision to run."

In Snowe’s camp, that kind of talk might stir up a little fear and loathing (Hunter S. Thompson, rest in . . . well, not peace, exactly). But only after everybody stops laughing. Because Duprey is about as much of a threat to Snowe’s continued tenure in Congress as the football team from the School for Undernourished Children with Problems Following Directions is to the New England Patriots’ next Super Bowl championship.

Political trivia fans will remember Duprey as the guy who got more media attention than he deserved earlier this year for introducing a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine, even though he opposes the idea. He claimed he did so at the request of an unidentified constituent and not to derail efforts to pass gay-rights legislation by confusing the issue. Last week, he got more press for his bill banning abortions because of a fetus’s sexual orientation. Duprey said he doesn’t believe homosexuality is caused by heredity, but wanted to be prepared in case he was wrong and women started aborting gay zygotes.

Now in his third term at the State House, Duprey has consistently opposed gay rights, abortion, environmental regulations, and increased school spending — except for religious schools. While he’s had occasional legislative successes, mostly with bills to protect children, Duprey has more often demonstrated his profound lack of understanding of how the process works in Augusta.

"I’m not in cahoots with anybody," he told the Portland Press Herald in January. "Things with my name don’t tend to go very far."

Now there’s a campaign slogan.

In 2000, Republican conservatives threatened to run somebody against Snowe if she didn’t start acting like a right-wing extremist. Nothing came of that challenge, and the senator won re-election with 69 percent of the vote against a Democrat nobody can remember (although the letters of his name can be rearranged to spell "Lance W. Remark").

In 2006, the only difference will be that the conservative threat will have a name to place next to his miniscule primary vote total. Then, Snowe will proceed to demolish whatever sacrificial side of mutton the Dems serve up (to date, no one has volunteered), before catching her plane back to Washington.

After which, the GOP right-wing might want to re-evaluate its threshold for celebration.


According to the Web site irregularnews.com ("Highly unfortunate, unheralded information provided on an irregular basis by cranky amateurs"), the leading 2008 Democratic presidential candidate in Maine is Tammy Baldwin.


And, more importantly, how?

The second question first: The site compiles state-by-state measures of liberal contenders’ strengths by counting the number of bumperstickers and pins for each candidate it sells at its on-line store. In most parts of the country, that puts Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the lead, with the occasional outpost going for the likes of Barbara Boxer, John Edwards, or John Kerry.

But only Maine is in Baldwin’s column, and it’s been there for three months.

Baldwin is a US representative from Wisconsin. She’s serving her fourth term in Congress, where she’s earned a reputation as one of its most liberal members, championing such causes as national health insurance and free day care. She also claims credit for being the first openly lesbian candidate to win a House seat.

Irregularnews.com speculates Baldwin’s "surprising" showing in Maine may be due to her sexual orientation, "given the gay-friendly reputation of the Portland area."

Given the reputation of much of the rest of the state for rejecting gay rights, Baldwin could be in for an interesting experience if she ever campaigns here.

If you think I’m short-sighted about long shots, email me at ishmaelia@gwi.net


The Politics and Other Mistakes archive.

Issue Date: March 4 - 10, 2005
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