Lockman: Weak Republicans Turned Maine Blue

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Now that we’ve had a week or so to reflect on the blue wave that crashed over Maine on Election Day, it’s time for a sober assessment of what went wrong.

While it’s tempting to wallow in despair over the outcome, I would prefer to focus instead on the lessons we can learn. And there are many.

I want to begin by thanking Paul and Ann LePage for all they have done to restore Maine to The Way Life Should Be during his two terms in the Blaine House.

Remember, Maine state government was a deadbeat debtor when LePage took office in 2011, with thousands of elderly and disabled Mainers languishing on John Baldacci’s notorious Medicaid waitlists.

By the time Paul LePage left office in 2019, the hospital debt was paid, the welfare system was reformed, and the forgotten Mainers were finally getting the medical care they needed.

Now, before I critique his 2022 campaign, I should remind you that LePage was the guy who inspired me to run for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives ten years ago.

During his last six years in the Blaine House, I was one of his most outspoken defenders on the floor of the Democrat-controlled House. In fact, I was gaveled down repeatedly during my floor speech seven years ago mocking the Democrats for their chronic LePage Derangement Syndrome, and hammering their bogus articles of impeachment.

One of my proudest moments was being asked by Gov. LePage to sponsor his bill cutting off state funds to any “harboring haven” municipality – such as Portland – that shields illegal immigrants from deportation.

So, you can imagine my surprise and my profound disappointment this year when LePage somehow managed to get to the left of Janet Mills on illegal immigration. He actually agreed with her that we need to loosen work restrictions on people who entered the country illegally and then boarded buses bound for Maine.

How did that happen?

He should have been pounding the podium and asking why Mills is giving away rent-free housing to thousands of illegal immigrants, while tens of thousands of lifelong Mainers languish on affordable housing waitlists. Why are these non-citizens who never paid a dime in Maine taxes allowed to cut in line ahead of Maine people?

Paul LePage lost because he wasn’t the Paul LePage we’ve come to know and love. LePage was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, not because of his brash talk and take-no-prisoners approach, but because he offered a sharp contrast between his vision and the Democrats’ socialist agenda. He actually talked about issues that mattered to Mainers during those two previous campaigns.

This year, he could have seized on the issue of educational malpractice in Maine’s K-12 government-run schools. That’s what I thought he would do after he invited Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia to a campaign event in Lewiston in early September.

Youngkin flipped his blue state red in last year’s gubernatorial race by riding the wave of discontent with public education. Like parents in Virginia, parents in Maine are fed up with radical Leftist indoctrination and transgender ideology being shoved down their kids’ throats.

But LePage never made this populist uprising a central issue in his campaign. It was an after-thought that never got consistent top billing. Instead, taking his cue from the GOP establishment and the swampy Washington, DC-based consulting class, he tried to blame Janet Mills for the high price of groceries, gasoline, and heating oil — problems that stem more from Washington than they do Augusta. The blame-shifting was’t credible and it wasn’t convincing.

Instead of following the successful blueprint laid out by Ron DeSantis in Florida, or Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, or even his own blueprint that led to two terms in the Blaine House — Paul LePage followed the Shawn Moody blueprint, and he got Shawn Moody results.

That blueprint and those results flowed down the ballot to state legislative races.

The overwhelming majority of GOP candidates for the Maine House and Senate sprinted for the tall grass rather than showing up at school board meetings to stand in solidarity with rightfully-angry parents. So, why would anyone expect those parents to turn out in large numbers on Election Day to cast ballots for candidates who were AWOL on brainwashing in the classroom?

Rep. John Andrews of Paris and Sen. Lisa Keim of Dixfield were exceptional in this regard. They weren’t afraid of the Fake News media’s slings and arrows.

John and Lisa are the only two legislative candidates I know of who spoke out at school board meetings against X-rated pornography in the library and rampant gender-bender madness in the restrooms and locker rooms.

Good for them! They both won reelection handily. And Lisa was just elected Assistant Republican Leader in the Senate.

Imagine what might have happened if Paul LePage had played offense instead of “prevent defense” on the issue of K-12 indoctrination and grooming.

Under the leadership of Janet Mills’ education commissioner Pender Makin, the Maine Department of Education has become an online warehouse of lunatic-fringe LGBTQ training material for K-12 teachers. To drive that point home to voters, LePage could have shown up at a televised debate with a copy of Gender Queer or Middle School’s a Drag to wave at the TV cameras and in Mills’ face.

Why not pledge to fire the pornography-pushing Makin on your first day in office, Gov. LePage?

So many missed opportunities.

He could have shown up at the public forum in Paris on November 1st, a week to the day before the election, to show his support for parents fighting back against a criminally insane policy requiring teachers to coach students on how to keep their new “gender identity” secret from parents. The 300 Mainers who attended that forum were overwhelmingly opposed to this brazen plan to drive a wedge between parents and children.

I’m sure they would have appreciated having Paul LePage there to lend his moral support.

As it was, LePage barely carried Paris last week, a small town in rural Oxford County where he crushed Mike Michaud by a wide margin in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

There’s no way Republicans get elected to statewide office if they don’t run up big vote totals in towns like Paris.

Don’t get me wrong. LePage lost to Janet Mills by a huge 12-point margin. I’m not suggesting he would have won if he had championed border security and parental rights, if he had pushed back on welfare for illegals and gender-bender madness in the public schools. But I’m quite certain the race would have been a lot closer…and if nothing else, much more interesting.

The sad fact is, Maine is currently a blue state by a margin of about 55% to 45%. The blue hue is thanks to decades of feckless GOP leadership failing to offer a meaningful alternative to the Leftist authoritarianism of the progressives who dominate state government, academia, and the Nanny State Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

It took years to get into this mess, and we certainly won’t move from blue to purple to red in one or two election cycles. The long march to restore normalcy will require persistent hard work at the grassroots level.

That work begins with understanding who we’re trying to reach.

We need to reach persuadable Democrats who haven’t realized yet that their party left them years ago and no longer represents their best interests. They continue to vote Democrat out of habit rather than conviction.

Secondly, we need to reach non-political people who feel left behind by both parties. Many of these Mainers don’t bother to vote in midterm elections, or they don’t vote at all any more. They tend to hate politics and politicians. Our challenge is to show them that conservative, Maine First policies are what is best for them and the next generation of Mainers.

And last but not least, we need to reach our base and give them a reason to be excited to go out and vote. Something more than, “we’re not Democrats.”

The good news is that the slumbering giant is stirring. The no-longer silent majority is making its voice heard across Maine.

I already mentioned 300 parents showing up at a school board meeting in rural Oxford County. Did you hear about the 200 parents at a Waldoboro school board meeting last month to protest pornography in the libraries and classrooms?

Close to 1,000 Mainers in that district signed a petition to keep Gender Queer out of the library. The board defied the will of the people, so what is the next step? Here it is: Four seats on that school board are up for election in the first six months of 2023.

In South Paris, more than 700 signatures were gathered on recall petitions for two school board members who voted for the new gender-bender policy. Those recall elections will take place around the first of the year.

Maine First Project will be fully engaged in these and other local skirmishes across the state. As we do, we are awakening more Mainers to the threats to their freedom. At the same time, we are recruiting and training the next generation of activists and candidates. We are building a bench for future state legislative campaigns.

I’m frankly excited about our prospects.

I’m looking forward to being in the trenches and on the frontlines with like-minded patriots in 2023. It’s the least we can do for our children and grandchildren.

I believe 2023 is gonna be a great year!

In closing, I’ll ask that you reflect on these words from Samuel Adams, one of America’s finest Founding Fathers, and Boston’s most prominent revolutionary leader:

“It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

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