Will this year’s 3rd place loser end up a patronage appointee or a scapegoat like Libby Mitchell?

Cynthia: Mike, how long before we blame climate change or the war in the Middle East on Libby Mitchell?

Mike: I don’t think anyone blames Libby as an individual for much of anything. Actually, I don’t believe anyone thinks about Libby at all nowadays. But I suppose a similar question can be asked: when is the ebola outbreak going to be George Bush’s fault?

Cynthia: W was blamed as president for crashing the economy and starting a futile and devastating war, but then he got a fancy library named after him and a new job as GOP artist-in-residence.

Mitchell, on the other hand, the first woman in America elected both speaker of the House and president of the Senate, is shunned for coming in third in the 2010 governor’s race after a career of distinguished public service. All we hear about now is how “weak” a candidate she was — as if hauling all the sins of the Democratic Party into the wilderness on her back, alone, following the 2010 national red tide is some easy task.

I am going to go out on a limb and predict someone in this year’s race for governor between Michaud, LePage and Cutler is going to come in third place. So forget about November’s winner for a minute, Mike. Who’s going to be the “weak” candidate this year?

Mike: Well, we probably have to do election predictions pretty soon, so this will be a preview of coming attractions — get your popcorn and icees before the show starts! But I think, honestly, Mike Michaud is in real danger of falling into that place, much like Libby. He fits the mold of the affable, pleasant individuals who step forward in the Democratic Party because it is “their turn,” only to fall flat on election night.

Some of Mike’s “evolutions” have served as a negative in the 2nd District while failing to ignite a fire in the 1st. His policy proposals consist of Washington retreads, promising to fix DHHS by hiring new state employees to oversee and inspect our current state employees. At least Eliot Cutler has come forward with some concrete ideas surrounding welfare reform. Of course, many of those ideas Gov. LePage has argued for and implemented. Not to mention the minor fact that they resonate with a majority of Maine voters.

Of course, we’ve already written most of this piece and Rasmussen comes out with a poll undermining my hypothesis, so what do I know? I do believe many Democrats will stand with Mike in a way that they didn’t with Libby or with your campaign in 2012, Cynthia; that could be what keeps him from falling behind Eliot. It would be quite the story if Democratic candidates came in 3rd place in three consecutive statewide elections, don’t you think?

Cynthia: Republicans really do need to come to grips with evolution.

I disagree with you on several fronts, but let’s assume you’re right for purposes of this discussion. Frontrunner Michaud is discovered to be a “brain guy” and loses the race. However the story is told, we know how it will end for the leading character. Michaud will get a nice job in the Veterans Administration and continue his good work.

There’ve been happy endings for plenty of other “losers,” too. George Mitchell’s consolation prize for losing the governor’s race to independent Jim Longley in 1974 was appointment to the U.S. Attorney post, followed by appointment to the U.S. Senate. Peter Mills lost his bid for governor and is now king of the Maine Turnpike. Losers Bruce Poliquin, Bill Schneider, Pat McGowan and countless other guys have been given plum jobs for their effort.

Don’t you think political “patronage” is taken a little too literally? I mean even “our” very own Susan Collins was left hung out to dry after coming in third place in the 1994 Maine governor’s race, right?

And what’s an “icee?”

Mike: Icee. You know, overpriced, frozen drink at the movie theater. Maybe there are some patronage jobs at the concession counter?

And maybe Mike will get a concession VA gig, but who knows how long that will last? Gov. Baldacci got a job in the Department of Defense working on health care, but it seemed to end shortly thereafter. But yes, there are a lot of stash jobs for those who don’t succeed in electoral politics. Some appointees have resumes that indicate they can succeed in those jobs, like George Mitchell and Bruce Poliquin. Others don’t have those resumes, but get appointed anyway due to their relationships.

And I hardly think Susan was hung out to dry. Did anyone expect Bill Clinton or Angus to appoint her? She went out and worked as executive director of the Center for Family Business at Husson, only to run in 1996 and win the Senate seat of her old boss, Bill Cohen.

Cynthia: One thing’s for sure. If Cutler loses the race this year with less than 19 percent of the vote, it won’t be because he is “weak.” It’s because he’s “too smart.”