I appreciate everyone who pulled one oar or another; grateful for people like Craig Beaulieu, who handled my signs; and my treasurer Jerry Conley; and Al Brewer, the ace mailing guy at GG Direct; and Glenn Cummings and Steve Lovejoy, who occupied the seat before me, and Mayor Brennan, whose advice has always been correct; and my colleagues in the House whom I saw at countless fundraisers over the summer; and everyone else who cheered me on, who dropped lit, and otherwise provided a sense of community during the sometimes lonely and always-hard-to-gauge process of doing doors and attending events.
And of course I'm SO grateful for Tamara and Will, who have graciously put up with this whole enterprise now, and cheered me on - twice!
I won 78% of the votes in my race - this is, as far as I can tell, the second highest margin of any contested legislative race in the state. Of course, it is the City of Portland we're talking about, so it's not quite as impressive a number as it would appear. That said, I feel good about it, as more than 50% of my district is new thanks to redistricting, and I spent quite a bit of time and effort getting to know the residents of those neighborhoods.
As for the bigger picture, as those of you on my side of the aisle know, it was a tough night. We have only a very slim majority in the House (no chance of overriding vetoes now), and we lost the Senate. While I was sorry but not surprised to see the remarkable Shenna Bellows fall to Susan Collins, I was terribly upset to see Emily Cain, who in my opinion is the most respected, smart, and knowledgeable person in Maine politics, lose in her bid for the 2nd Congressional district seat.
And of course I don't need to remind anyone that our feisty tea party governor, Paul LePage, was re-elected. So I expect that the next two years are going to be acrimonious and focused steadily on divisive issues like immigration, welfare, and more unaffordable tax cuts.
I think Maine is in for another rough four years - the big disconnect being that in virtually all rural states, Government is the largest employer and the largest spender. Maine is no different (our two biggest private companies are Federal defense contractors, just to name a couple), and the relentless cuts at all levels, from the Federal to the local, have seriously slowed down the economic recovery here. We also failed to accept Federal Obamacare funding, which has taken almost a million dollars per day out of our hospitals and health care sector (this is aside from the moral issue of leaving insurance for 70,000 low income people on the table).
Regardless of one's position vis a vis the size of government or whether one assumes a Keynesian or a Reaganesque philosophy, people wondering why the Maine economy outside of Portland is lagging the rest of the country, should recognize that top-to-bottom public disinvestment as a significant contributing factor. I'll admit it's a challenge to figure out what the correct and affordable size of government should be, but we have cut enough over the past eight years (the Democratic administration before LePage made numerous cuts before the recession) to really impede our capacity to function. When you combine that with a relatively low level of higher educational achievement, a reliance on dying natural resource industries, and our status as the state with the oldest population in America, it's not a pretty picture. Southern and Coastal sections of Maine are doing as well as anywhere, but the so-called "rim counties" are getting clobbered.
That said, I like to think of myself as a pragmatist - and I do think that with the House and Senate under divided leadership in the 127th legislature, there could possibly be a mandate to work together in a way that is different than it was in the 125th and 126th. How that will work or play out remains to be seen (alternatively it could be gridlock), but I'll be working to do whatever I can to help form workable policy
Anyway - those are my thoughts of a November Saturday!