Let’s say you wanted to liven up your next party by featuring a Donald Trump impersonator. Your budget doesn’t allow for hiring the likes of Alec Baldwin. Johnny Depp would drink all your booze and punch out your guests. Donald Jr. might do, but he probably has a scheduling conflict due to an appointment with some Russians.
Despair not. There’s a locally grown alternative who works cheap and can nail the Trump agenda.
Here’s our faux Trump expressing opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement: “I’m sick and tired of a government that cares more about Canadian farmers than Maine potato growers.”
We’ll build a wall and Canada will pay for it.
This person has also expressed concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This person is on record as opposing “political correctness.” This person favored cutting the capital gains tax. This person appears to be skeptical of globalism: “Too often we have seen congressmen and women who are … more concerned with parochialism than with nationalism.” This person isn’t interested in finding middle ground, ostensibly because that’s bad for the little guy: “Too often compromise saves ‘the haves’ and ignores ‘the have nots.’” And this person is no fan of strict environmental rules. “One of my main objectives as [an elected official] will be to unclutter some of this regulatory gridlock,” the ersatz Trump has said.
Who is this talented Trumpoid? Republican Gov. Paul LePage? Fanatic state Rep. Lawrence Lockman? Senate majority leader and possible gubernatorial candidate Garrett Mason?
No, no and no.
The politician who out-Trumps everyone in the GOP is none other than Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, herself an announced candidate for governor. Mills made most of those comments during her run for Congress in the state’s 2nd District back in 1994. That was an era when moderate to conservative Democrats still wielded some clout in the party, and Mills, then the district attorney for Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, attempted to appeal to that constituency by using the slogan “Tough Works.”
As it turned out, it didn’t work all that well. She finished third in the primary with just 17 percent of the vote, well behind eventual congressman and governor John Baldacci. That loss could be attributed to a certain inconsistency in her ideology. For every conservative stand she took, there was a countervailing liberal position. She was pro-choice on abortion, sometimes supported gun control, opposed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and favored universal health care.
Another problem Mills had was her tendency to get annoyed at reporters (does that remind you of anyone whose name rhymes with “hump”?), and she was sometimes perceived as dismissive of her six primary opponents and even the occasional assertive voter.
To be fair (just this once, I promise), all that was nearly a quarter century ago, and Mills has mellowed a bit since then. She’s developed thicker skin and handles criticism better than before, at least in public. She’s also assembled a sizable portfolio of instances in which she opposed many of LePage’s legal blunderings, earning her the undying enmity of the governor and some measure of respect from her party’s left wing.
Which is not to say liberal Democrats are rushing to embrace her current candidacy. Her opposition to a generic drug bill that she believes conflicts with federal law has earned her the wrath of state Sen. Troy Jackson, the Dems’ floor leader and an influential voice with the party’s sizable Bernie Sanders caucus. She’s caught flak from the Penobscot Indian Nation and its supporters for opposing tribal fishing and water rights on the Penobscot River. During last fall’s referendum campaign, she alienated advocates for legal marijuana by pointing out a flaw in the bill that might have allowed children to buy pot.
That’s not to say Mills can’t win the Democratic nomination. So far, the lefties haven’t found a strong candidate they can rally around (note to lefties: using the words “Mark Eves” and “strong candidate” in the same sentence is tantamount to inviting cries of “oxymoron”). At this point, Mills would have to be considered the frontrunner.
At least until somebody spoils the party by dredging up all those Trump comparisons from 1994.