Over before it started

Cancel the campaigns
By AL DIAMON  |  September 29, 2010

It's finished.

The gubernatorial candidates can cancel all remaining campaign appearances. The debate organizers can forget about renting halls and setting up public-address systems. The state's television stations can kiss that lucrative last-minute political advertising goodbye. And pundits such as myself can find something else to blather on about for the next five weeks (I'm thinking gardening tips, foliage reports, and the first chapter of my memoir titled "My Night of Lust With Lady Gaga and Republican State Chairman Charlie Webster").

Because this race is done.

GOP nominee Paul LePage is going to be the next governor of Maine.

Not because LePage is the best candidate. In this contest, there is no best candidate (although there's a heated battle for worst).

Not because LePage has run a good campaign (good campaigns don't let their candidates swear at reporters, lie repeatedly and ineptly, change positions on a whim, and have spouses who live in other states).

And not even because most people want LePage to be governor (he's not going to receive much more than 40 percent of the vote, even if he avoids all serious blunders between now and November 2 — which is unlikely).

LePage will win because his supporters have made up their minds. They've — please take your choice of clichés — drunk the Kool-Aid, followed the other lemmings off the cliff, sent their life savings to a Nigerian prince, or bet heavily on the Boston Red Sox to win the 2010 World Series.

As far as they're concerned, all that negative stuff about their boy is being generated by a conspiracy of liberal politicians, liberal journalists, liberal elitists, and . . . uh . . . liberals.

No need to pay attention to those trumped-up charges that — if they were leveled at any other politician — would cause this Tea Party-saturated group to overflow with outrage at that swine's dishonesty, hypocrisy, and unfitness to hold public office.

These true believers aren't going to be persuaded that LePage isn't the answer to not only all the state's problems, but also to all their personal issues, ranging from an inability to balance a checkbook to a tendency to be fired for drinking, smoking dope, and dozing off while on the job. He'll make everything — everything! — all right.

That leaves Democrat Libby Mitchell and independents Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody, and Kevin Scott in a difficult position (although not as difficult as the one Lady Gaga, Charlie Webster, and I got into). If LePage faced a single opponent, that candidate would have a shot at picking up most of the votes from the 60 percent of the population that thinks LePage is a hot-headed whackjob with a tenuous grasp of the reality.

Well, not if it's Scott. He's got whackjob issues of his own. And probably not Moody. His campaign bus seems to have sprung a leak in the political-smarts tank. But Cutler and Mitchell might manage to capture a majority if either were the sole alternative. But that's not going to happen, so LePage is cruising to victory.

Which, oddly enough, could be bad news for other Republicans.

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