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Political Brew: Mills, Dems 'rewarded' by Maine voters, and Golden will need to survive a ranked-choice runoff to hold onto his CD2 House seat

Our analysts this week are an attorney and longtime co-host of the WGAN Morning News, Ken Altshuler, and Ray Richardson of WLOB Radio.

MAINE, USA — Editor's note: The video attached to this story was recorded on Nov. 11. before the results of the Nevada and Arizona U.S. Senate races. 

Many analysts thought the 2022 election would bring a Republican "red wave" to the nation. But it was nothing of the sort in Maine. 

The Blaine House, the state House, and Senate, and most likely both Congressional seats, will remain in the hands of Democrats.

Gov. Janet Mills, the first woman ever elected governor in Maine, won re-election by a 12-point margin over former Gov. Paul LePage. 

Neither of our analysts saw that coming. 

"I was optimistic and thought maybe seven or eight percent if it was a really good night for her," Ken Altshuler said. 

He thinks LePage "did not run a particularly good campaign. I'm not sure if his heart was in it or not, or he just thought his base would carry him."

LePage supporter Ray Richardson said Mills "beat the pants off of him" and called this "the biggest shellacking in gubernatorial history." 

Richardson pointed out that LePage got roughly the same number of votes this week as he did when he won his second term in 2014, while Mills surpassed her winning totals of four years ago. 

"Janet Mills got almost 400,000 votes. I don't think anybody saw that coming," Richardson said.

Many political observers felt that Republicans could win control of the Maine House, if not the Senate. But Democrats succeeded in both chambers and built on their numbers in the House.

Richardson and Altshuler agreed that Republicans had some very good candidates in legislative races this year. They were outspent by Democrats, but Richardson still finds the outcome a mystery. 

"The economy has historically been a Republican issue. It is struggling in Maine as it is across the country, and that didn't matter," Richardson said.

Altshuler said, "I don't think Republicans can do anything differently or better. I think it's just maybe the atmosphere of the time wasn't in their favor."

Two days after the election, Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, said it's clear he will be the winner when the ranked-choice tabulation is conducted this week. 

Richardson said, " I think he absolutely wins that. I would be shocked if he doesn't." 

That's because Golden has a lead of almost four points, and most second-choice votes from supporters of independent candidate Tiffany Bond will likely be enough to push Golden above 50% of the total.

Altshuler thought voters were not interested in putting LePage back in the governor's office or sending Bruce Poliquin back to Congress. 

He said Golden is a better fit in the second district than Poliquin because he "is likable, he's a veteran. I believe he's a complete moderate Democrat, and he has bucked the party" at times.

Our analysts also talked about whether Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, can ever be dislodged from her seat in CD-1 after winning her eighth term in a landslide, Republican Sen. Susan Collins' decision to go to Pennsylvania to endorse unsuccessful Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, and the choices made by Portland voters on a big stack of referendum questions.

Political Brew airs Sundays on NEWS CENTER Maine's the Weekend Morning Report.

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