An inspiring LePage, functional Senate and Dems with dimension? An election post-mortem

Mike: Well, Cynthia, how are you doing? Does the sea-salt air of Cape Elizabeth alleviate the need for smelling salts for those stunned by the idea that people really do like Paul LePage’s goals?

Cynthia: Goals? What goals? People like Gov. LePage’s swagger and his lovely wife. What they rejected was the Democratic message. Medicaid expansion and minimum wage don’t inspire those who dream of prosperity. It’s America. Everyone wants to be rich.

As for me, I’m looking on the bright side. Here in Cape Elizabeth, the bears won.

Mike: And thanks to the rest of the state, you won’t have them “playing” with your pets!

But I agree with you — the Democrats needed to be something more than “not Paul LePage.” That works for the base, but it doesn’t move the needle with the general populace. Plus, despite the disgusting amounts spent in pretty shocking negative ads, the Maine Senate goes to the Republicans.

That leads to another question: With Justin Alfond out of power, will Senate Democrats work with the governor like they did under Barry Hobbins?

Cynthia: Justin Alfond is not out of money, therefore he is not out of power. And therein lies a topic for another column.

For now, I say Democrats need to do some soul searching. If we are the party of “clean elections,” why do wealthy donors rule the roost? If elections are about the economy, why aren’t we delivering a message about jobs and opportunities for social mobility and success?

Mike Michaud and his campaign worked incredibly hard and ran an honorable campaign. The race was nationalized and the country is down on Obama. As Americans we tend to swing the pendulum, and after a good run on civil rights, it appears we are hitting the breaks.

The more important question — the one that will impact families and businesses — is whether Gov. LePage can be magnanimous and humble in victory. He won, but not with a majority of votes. Can he bury spite and his street-fighter smarts and lead?

Mike: I know he can lead without burying his passion. We saw it with his victory speech. Paul LePage truly believes — and I agree with him — that his story is only possible in America. And that every individual deserves the opportunity to pursue the American Dream as he did. When he speaks to that, he is an inspiring figure and I think we’ll see a lot more of it over the next four years.

What about Washington? Will the president be humble in defeat and try to forge some common ground, or is he going to stick it in the eye of Republicans before they are even sworn in with an executive order on immigration?

Cynthia: President Obama’s story is as much about the American Dream as Paul LePage’s, and his passion is no less. He, too, has been elected on a platform of ideas and ideals. The president’s executive action in the face of gridlocked Washington is motivated by his promises to the people who elected him — including a majority of Mainers, twice. An executive order on immigration could jump start a conversation, but ultimately we need a legislative solution.

Given Sen. McConnell’s remarks on Wednesday, I’m hopeful the U.S. Senate will start working. And I don’t mean having martinis and “getting along.” I mean really work — for us — not the next election.

What about the spoiler question? Was Eliot Cutler’s political legacy defined by this race?

Mike: I really don’t understand the spoiler question, since it assumes that voters “belong” to someone. Who was the “spoiler” in 2010 — Libby or Eliot? Or Shawn or Kevin? Even if Eliot had dropped out of this race, a 75/25 percent split of his votes in favor of Mike would’ve still led to the re-election of the governor.

As for Eliot’s political legacy, I have no idea. He is probably done with electoral politics. I agree with the governor that he would probably make a good attorney general, but I don’t see the Democrats going there.

Since your side gets to elect the constitutional officers, what is the Democratic scuttlebutt? Are Janet, Neria, and Matt sitting pretty? Or will someone be jettisoned to give a losing candidate a consolation prize?

Cynthia: Mike, it’s too somber a moment for me to talk about scuttlebutt, and I don’t believe in consolation prizes. Members of the Legislature should elect constitutional officers who can do an exceptional job and serve with distinction.

For Emily Cain and for Eliot, it’s what they do with the loss that will define their future. Loss adds dimension to people. For them and the Democratic Party, for that matter, after the navel gazing and reflection, it’s about the comeback.

Mike: Hopefully they take some time with the reflection. I’m not ready for the 2016 cycle to begin!