In my Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel column today I discuss the similarities and differences between LePage and the last Maine governor who shot so wildly from the hip, independent James B. Longley. For more on this period in Maine political history, check out Willis Johnson's entertaining book The Year of the Longley.
Some other must-read columns this weekend on similar subjects:
Steve Mistler also looked into the Longley connection, and discusses LePage's remarks with some past gubernatorial communications staff.
Renee Ordway compares LePage spokesperson Dan Demeritt to the mother of an "impish little boy."
Bill Nemitz delves into the legislative confirmation hearings for LePage's executive branch nominees, an important political process that has been overshadowed by LePage's remarks. He gets one Democrat to admit that they're being a "bunch of pansies" in not questioning or opposing some of LePage's less-qualified appointees.
And a bonus: Al Diamon's column from August of last year, when he channeled Longley's ghost for a heart-to-heart chat with Paul LePage.
To put Mitchell's encouraging comments in perspective, while he did enter the 1982 US Senate race significantly behind in the polls (after being appointed to the Senate in 1980), by a week before the election he was up by at least 4 points according to UPI (based on partially-reported internal polls). He ended up winning 61-39 over first-district congressman Dave Emery.
A better source of hope for Allen from Mitchell's political history might be his 1974 race for governor. The Press Herald gave Mitchell a 19-point lead over James B. Longley on the eve of the election, but in the end Longley pulled off a 3-point win to become the state's first independent governor.
Of course, polling has improved a bit since then.