How not to use social media in a campaign

camplogo3There is a right way to use social media in a campaign.

And there is a wrong way to use social media in a campaign.

The following could be forgiven if it came from a political novice, but not when it comes from the governor’s re-election team.

Here’s a game you can play at home. Find the three glaring strategic mistakes that Team LePage 2014 uses in their recent Facebook post.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/mainesgov/posts/10152803304354676?stream_ref=10

1.) The post urges us to “please search for the LePage 2014 website on your computer.”

Oh, I’m not supposed to search under the table or between the seat cushions?

How about this? How about posting a link to your site? You can do that on Facebook.

Instead, the governor’s social media gurus are worried about unintended “filters” that could accompany an embedded link. So, instead they strongly suggest that you use your computer, hunt down the link and then donate.

In fact, donating must be important because they ask you to donate twice in the same paragraph, which almost looks like one giant sentence, considering the absence of punctuation.

2.) The campaign’s post is horrendously long.

Facebook is not Twitter, which requires abbreviated posts. That said, you should not use Facebook to “cut and paste” an entire speech.

A better strategy would be to hook your social media audience into your website. Use social media to tease your message and direct readers back to your website.

3.) If you must go long, give your post some space.

If you insist on your using Facebook like a blog, at least be considerate and allow readers a visual experience that doesn’t look like a bucket of spilled nails.

Insert a line space between paragraphs. Remember, if you want more people reading your posts, make your posts easier to read.

So here’s a primer for Governor LePage and his re-election team:

If you want to see Governor LePage re-elected go here and donate.

See how easy that was? Social media is supposed to be easy.

I’m not sure who is handling the governor’s social media, but from the looks of things there is plenty of room for improvement.

Primary Colors

empty-pollsAllow me to make a bold prediction.

Voter turnout for Maine’s 2014 Primary Elections on June 10 will be absolutely dismal.

Taxpayers across Maine will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for an absolute non-event; an utter waste of time and resources, all in the name of a Democratic process that doesn’t work without a contest.

In fact, we will be lucky to see voter participation that exceeds the June 1996 state primary, when only 12 percent of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot.

Think of it this way, it will be like buying a ticket to watch the Boston Red Sox play the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The winners have already been determined.

Unlike the June 2010 Primary four years ago, the gubernatorial candidates for each political party have already been chosen. If only one Democrat goes to the polls somewhere in Maine, Mike Michaud will clinch his party’s nomination in a landslide.

But in 2010, voters of both parties had lots of choices. There were four candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination, and no fewer than seven candidates seeking the Republican Party’s nomination.

More recently, in 2012, six Republicans and four Democrats fought in the primaries for a chance to fill the shoes of U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe.

This year, Republican Susan Collins has already won her party’s nomination and Shenna Bellows is assured of being the Democratic Party’s sacrificial cow.

But what about the Maine Legislature and the crop of fresh faces ready to head off to Augusta?

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

In fact, you may want to cry because you and all of your neighbors will be funding an entire day of using municipal clerks and voting officials to collect ballots that hardly matter.

Of Maine’s 35 state senate seats, only four will face a primary challenge (three Democratic primaries and one Republican primary)

It’s not much different for the process to fill the 151 chairs in the Maine House of Representatives, where only 19 of the 151 races will see a Primary challenge (8 Democratic primaries and 11 Republican primaries)

In 132 of 151 House Districts in Maine, it doesn’t matter a bit  if you go to the polls on June 10. The races for the Blaine House, the U.S. Senate and the Legislature have been pre-determined.

Please do not disturb the slumber of your municipal clerks or voting officials.

 

 

LePage leads on Facebook; abandons Twitter?

Governor Paul LePage continues to lead his two rivals for the Blaine House on Facebook, picking up 341 new likes for his re-election campaign page over the last 10 days.

But the Governor is still lagging on Twitter, gaining only 11 new followers during the same time period.

In fact, the @LePage2014 Twitter feed has been virtually silent since March 24, when the campaign issued its most recent tweet directed at reporters, saying no one better understands poverty than LePage (referencing his impoverished youth on the streets of Lewiston)

Meanwhile Democratic challenger and Congressman Mike Michaud’s campaign received a nice plug on the Portland Press Herald’s blog, detailing where the candidate would be touring during his two week-Easter break from Congress. Among the highlights: a visit to a micro-brewery and the opportunity to learn how to blow glass at an Ellsworth glass shop.

Michaud will also be opening some campaign offices throughout Maine, according to the Press Herald. No word from the newspaper about the plans of the other two candidates.

Michaud picked up 205 new fans on Facebook and again made the greatest gains on Twitter, adding 61 new followers in the last 10 days.

Michaud now has 11,901 Facebook fans and 1,605 Twitter followers

I’m not alone in tracking the candidates’ social media activity

After boasting about their growing number of Facebook fans, the campaign of Independent candidate Eliot Cutler was called on the carpet by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Only four days after our latest social media tracking update, the state’s largest newspaper published their own report,  following a rigorous examination of the social media analytics of all three campaigns.

The newspaper’s lead graph:

Eliot Cutler’s campaign trumpeted its popularity on Facebook last week, saying its more than 20,000 “likes” outpace his competitors, Paul LePage and Mike Michaud.

What the independent candidate for governor’s campaign didn’t say was this: It has paid Facebook $16,000 to promote the campaign page . . .”

Our own analysis shows that Cutler’s campaign is trailing both LePage and Michaud on Facebook.

During the last 10 days, Cutler picked up only 170 new fans (Likes) on his campaign Facebook page. Although Cutler has the greatest overall number of Facebook fans, both LePage and Michaud are gaining ground faster.

LePage and Michaud each saw their Facebook fans increase by margins of 4 percent during the last 10 days. Cutler’s Facebook fan base grew by only 1 percent during the same period.

Previously:

April 4, 2014 Update

March 22, 2014 update

 

 

Update: Tracking the Campaigns

camplogo3Governor Paul LePage made the greatest gains on Facebook over the last two weeks, but his Democratic challenger Mike Michaud led the three-man race on Twitter with a 5 percent jump in followers.

As mentioned in my March 20th post, I will be regularly tracking the social media campaigns that are tied to the 2014 Maine gubernatorial election.

Between now and the November election, we will provide updates at least every two weeks, including review of the candidates’ social media pages and web sites.

Team LePage 2014 boasted of their uptick on their Facebook page earlier today.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/mainesgov/posts/10152758748754676?stream_ref=5

https://www.facebook.com/#!/mainesgov/posts/10152756469139676?stream_ref=5

Over the last two weeks, Lepage saw a 3 percent jump in Facebook fans, from 18,438 on March 20 to 19,058 today.

04-04-FacebookIndependent Eliot Cutler still leads the pack with the greatest number of Facebook fans (20,023) but saw only a 1 percent increase during the last two weeks.

It’s worth repeating that Michaud got a much later social media start because both LePage and Cutler hung on to their 2010 social media platforms. Nonetheless, Michaud (@Michaud2014) has overshadowed Cutler (@EliotCutler) on Twitter, making a 5 percent jump, from 1,475 to 1,544 followers.

While Cutler increased his Twitter followers by 4 percent, he still has fewer followers than either LePage or Michaud.

04-04-twitterMeanwhile, over at Team LePage (@LePage2014) Twitter followers increased only 1 percent, yet they seem to be making good use of their Facebook page, pushing fans to their web site and offering direct donation and volunteer mechanisms.

Over at Cutler’s web site, you can read the candidate’s plan for Maine and sign a petition to ensure that Cutler will be involved in all of the gubernatorial debates. I’ll let you be the judge of how well his site works.

See you in two weeks, if not sooner!

Social media and Maine’s gubernatorial campaign

camplogo3Despite all the hoopla about the power of social media tools in political campaigns, what metrics can we use to determine if those tools are effective?

While just about anyone can set up a Twitter account or create a Facebook page, social media tools are only as effective as those who are using them.  Although it is widely accepted that social media tools played a big part in President Obama’s 2008 campaign, that type of success is not guaranteed by simply using social media as part of a campaign strategy.

When it comes to Maine’s 2014 gubernatorial race, which of the campaigns is best using social media? More importantly, how do we set aside our individual biases and evaluate the campaigns based solely upon their social media metrics?

At the Brookings Institute’s Center for Technology Innovation, Darrell West offers a mixed review regarding social media and campaign engagement and the awkward transition to actual governance.

Social media are the ultimate in disruptive technology. They change information delivery, business organization, online content, news coverage, and the manner in which individuals process new developments. As shown during the 2008 campaign, these digital tools represented a textbook example of voter mobilization and electoral impact. They were, in the words of Engage Partner Mindy Finn, the “central nervous system” of campaign organizations.

Using social networking outreach tools such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter, a number of Democratic and Republican candidates raised money, identified supporters, built electoral coalitions, and brought people in closer touch with the electoral process.

You may recall a somewhat silly and lighthearted piece about Maine’s gubernatorial campaigns that I posted a couple of months ago. Then, I jokingly said we should dispense with the standard election process and use social media metrics to determine the winner. I examined each of the campaign’s current metrics.

Twitter FollowersToday, I have decided to track those metrics on a regular basis and to blog frequently about those campaigns and their use of social media.

Over the last 60 days, each of the Maine gubernatorial campaigns has been active on various social media platforms. But before we begin, it’s important to note that Democrat Mike Michaud is the latest entrant to this race. Both Governor LePage and Eliot Cutler carried over their respective social media support from the 2010 campaign.

Nonetheless, Michaud has seen the greatest increase in social media traffic, earning a 21 percent increase in the number of Twitter followers @Michaud2014, moving from 1,219 Twitter followers on January 20 to 1,475 followers as of March 20, 2014.

Although Governor LePage (@lepage2014) has the greatest number of Twitter followers (1,698) his metrics have increased only 8 percent during the same time period.

Eliot Cutler (@EliotCutler) saw a 10 percent increase in Twitter followers, from 1, 153 to 1,269 followers during the same period.

Facebook LikesOn Facebook, Cutler still dominates in the total number of Likes for his campaign page (19,824) but saw only a 4 percent increase over the last 60 days, while both Michaud and LePage experienced increases of 10 percent.

LePage’s Facebook page had 18,438 fans on March 20, compared to 16,791 fans on January 20, 2014.

Michaud’s Facebook page had 11,600 fans on March 20, compared to 10,529 fans on January 20, 2014.

When viewed overall, it would appear that Team Cutler has the steepest hill to climb, so far.

Note: Though it’s generally common knowledge, it must be noted that Twitter followers and Facebook fans do not translate directly to the number of supporters for a political candidate. As an example, I follow all three campaigns on Twitter, but will only be voting for one candidate.

Stand and Deliver

State Sen. Tom Saviello, Kennebec Journal photo

State Sen. Tom Saviello, Kennebec Journal photo

I like Tom Saviello. He is a man after my own heart.

He was a Democrat, then an Independent and now a moderate Republican.

He hails from western Maine, and his state senate district includes my birthplace of Farmington.

My mother’s family has lived in the Farmington-Wilton area for generations. That landscape is known to produce some of Maine’s finest and hardest working people; folks with a keen sense of humor and a clever wit.

In fact, Farmington is the birthplace of Chester Greenwood, the man who invented earmuffs.

In western Maine, common sense is a prerequisite for survival, and Saviello has loads of common sense.

He is pragmatic, personable and about as decent a man as you could hope to find. Sounds like a great guy, right?

Wrong, at least for some who prefer to sit on the lunatic edge of the Republican Party.

You see, Tom Saviello is the worst of the worst simply because he is a moderate. Christ, he was once a Democrat. How can you trust such a guy?

If you’re a Republican you had better take an oath to the Tea Party and its fundamentalist agenda if you want to get elected or even re-elected.

You can see such a dynamic playing out on the national stage, where Republicans such as John Boehner or Mitch McConnell are being taken to task by swaths of people who believe that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, there is no such thing as climate change, and that all immigrants should be deported because there is a high probability that they will vote for Democrats if given the chance.

Now, I don’t know where Saviello stands on climate change or immigration reform. Heck, he may or may not believe that President Obama is the anti-Christ. But I do know this: He is not Republican enough for the Tea Party.

History repeats itself

It was only two years ago when Maine Republicans shot themselves in the foot, giving up a U.S. Senate seat by applauding a hard-right primary challenge to U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe.

Snowe’s crime? She served on the Senate Finance Committee and voted in favor of sending the Affordable Care Act to the Senate floor for further debate and promised tweaks.

Ultimately, Snowe stood shoulder to shoulder with every other Republican and voted against passage of Obamacare, but the damage had been done. Suddenly she was facing a three-way primary, including two candidates who said she was not conservative enough.

I spoke on behalf of Snowe at Biddeford’s 2012 Republican caucus (Yes, there is such a thing).

I heard and felt the jeers from the crowd. (Yes, there was a crowd)

Only days later, Snowe abruptly announced that she would not seek another term to complement her distinguished political career. She was done. She blamed partisan gridlock in Washington, but a lot of us didn’t buy her rationale. I was angry that she was leaving. The Republican Party was about to endure two painful losses. 1.) the loss of a great and principled stateswoman who represented her party well, and 2.) a much needed seat in the U.S. Senate.

Snowe’s seat was taken by Democrat . . .errIndependent Angus King.

Now two years later, this same dynamic is playing out at the legislative level.

Earlier this month, John Frary, a retired college professor and right-wing darling, announced that he would challenge Saviello in the District 18 Republican Primary.

Saviello was obviously frustrated by that announcement, and threatened to walk away from the GOP if any other member of his party had the temerity to challenge him, according to political pundit Ethan Strimling in his Agree to Disagree blog at the Bangor Daily News.

Strimling goes on to speculate that hard-right Republicans are angry with Saviello’s moderate track record. He actually voted to override several of Republican Governor Paul LePage’s vetoes and voted to expand Medicaid.

Strimling ends his analysis this way: “. . . it [the potential challenge of Saviello] is clearly reflective of an increasingly intolerant Republican Party.”

First, you need to take Strimling with a grain of salt. He is a partisan Democrat. It his mission (second to looking good on television) to make his own party look good and Republicans look like “knuckle draggers.”

Secondly, it remains a bit unclear whether Frary, a man who routinely amuses himself with his own wit, will actually enter the race in an attempt to unseat Saviello.

But the following points should be clear:

If Saviello walks away from his party simply because he is being challenged, let me be the first to show him the door. There is no need to act like a petulant two-year-old, especially after you have spent a lifetime building a strong track record of public service and strong character. You need to stand up to bullies, not walk away.

Despite his partisan credentials, Ethan Strimling is on point when he says the GOP is in trouble if it can’t afford some flexibility in its own ranks. Democrats were not crazy about Mike Michaud’s pro-life stance, but they didn’t primary him. Instead, they waited for him to eventually change his position.

The GOP used to be a big tent party, but it seems increasingly unwilling to lease space to anyone who dares challenge an increasingly bizarre list of ideological demands foisted upon the platform by the Tea Party.

It well past time for common-sense Republicans to stand up and take their party back. Otherwise what we saw happen with Snowe’s seat will become more of a trend.

And to my Republican friends, how’s Angus King working out for you?

A brave step forward?

Question-MarkEarlier this week, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in favor of a transgendered girl in her case against a public school.

According to a story in the Bangor Daily News, “it is the first time any court in the nation has ruled it is unlawful to force a transgender child to use the school bathroom designated for the sex he or she was born with rather than the one with which the child identifies.”

Did the Law Court make the right decision? Is this a bold step forward in protecting the civil rights of transgendered individuals, or do you think this decision will set a troublesome precedent with unintended consequences?

 

 

Gardening at night

Sen_Susan_Collins_official

Senator Susan Collins

What’s up with Maine and its crazy-ass U.S. Senate races?

Two years ago, many of us thought we put the insanity of Sen. Olympia Snowe’s last-minute resignation behind us. We thought the next cycle would be predictable.

This is what we thought: Senator Susan Collins, poster girl of the moderate GOP, would face an effortless challenge against some nameless Democrat who is positioning for something or other. County Commissioner? Secretary of State? Executive Director of the Maine Turnpike Authority? Collins will win a sleeper landslide. Put away your checkbooks and go back to watching American Idol.

Nearly two years ago, there was so much speculation about why Olympia would make such a sudden departure from a campaign that was essentially a lock.

Did anyone seriously think that Andrew Ian Dodge or Scott D’Amboise had a shot at taking Snowe out during the GOP primary?

Maybe Snowe did; or maybe she was just offended that she would have to debate prior to the primary. Maybe she thought she had earned the GOP’s trust and resigned rather than fight for her party’s nomination. Or maybe she really was just sick and tired of the partisan battles in Washington.

It doesn’t matter. Snowe left and the GOP lost another seat in the senate.

Members of the GOP’s hard right plank don’t care much for Susan Collins, her moderate views or even her trademark red dress. Many of them were prepared to sit this cycle out. They learned their lesson two years ago.

But not all of them. Some of the most stringent members of the Maine GOP see an opportunity for a second bite at the apple. This group of strategic geniuses don’t care that the GOP lost a senate seat two years ago. To them, it does not matter because Snowe, they say, was basically a Democrat with an R behind her name.

How’s Angus King working out for you guys?

But the options were slim for our hard-right folks. They smell the stink of “establishment” politicians around every corner. Who could meet their principled litmus test?

Ooops, I did it again

ebErick Bennett has declared himself as a candidate for the Republican Primary to take on Senator Susan Collins.

Bennett is a self-described political consultant and strategist. His website is an absolute horror show and looks like it was designed by an eight year old.

Bennett says he worked on Gov. Paul LePage’s 2010 campaign, but the extent of that claim is being disputed by some other Republicans on social media.

Bennett seems to find controversy and conspiracies wherever he goes. He made allegations about irregularities regarding the city of Portland’s election for mayor in 2011. He was a candidate in that race but you wouldn’t know it based on the results.

After getting whopped in that campaign, Bennett set his sights on making a name for himself and created the Maine Equal Rights Center.

It only makes sense that the Maine Equal Rights Center did not support equal rights when it comes to marriage for homosexuals.

But recently Bennett has been getting some long overdue media attention, and this is where it gets interesting.

Reports have surfaced in national publications including Mother Jones and the Huffington Post about Bennett’s arrest and conviction for domestic violence in January 2004.

Bennett didn’t blink when the Maine media picked up the news regarding his conviction.

Instead, he says it qualifies him to be a member of the U.S. Senate because the conviction shows that he is actually a “principled” person who refused to play along with the criminal justice system by admitting his guilt.

I am also a political consultant, and I will be more than impressed if that explanation helps Bennett in his bid to unseat a U.S. Senator.

Since the domestic violence report surfaced, others have raised concerns about Bennett’s behavior on social media, calling into questions things Bennett has posted about gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud and political activist Nelson Mandela.

In recent days, every Republican within a 380,000-mile radius of Maine has sought to put incredible distance between themselves and Erik Bennett.

As of today, the Vegas line on Bennett being able to get at least six qualifying signatures to be on the ballot is running 23-1 against.

It almost feels as if Republicans are trying too hard to distance themselves from Bennett, an observation recently noted on Facebook by award-winning journalist Steve Mistler of the Portland Press Herald.

But Bennett does little to help his case, gleefully trading barbs with people such as Matt Gagnon, author of the Pine Tree Politics blog on the Bangor Daily News; or Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party.

Bennett may be a political consultant, but he would be well advised to stop seeking his own counsel. Otherwise, we can all go back to the sleeper election that we contemplated two years ago.

Who do you love?

Common Cause CaseThe race to become Maine’s next governor is heating up.

The candidates are gearing up and already taking swipes at each other on important issues of the day, such as who is leading in the polls, who has raised the most money, who is the gayest candidate and who looks best in a flannel shirt and pair of LL Bean boots.

We can expect a lot more of this squabbling over the next 10 months; or we can get smart and use the brains God gave us.

Let’s save all the time and money that goes into a gubernatorial election and instead declare the winner based solely on how many “Likes” they rack up on their respective Facebook pages, combined with the total number of Twitter Followers.

Once we have those numbers, students from the University of Maine will create an algorithm to compare the top-two winning candidates and their immediate family members number of shared connections on LinkedIn. This formula will ensure something very important. The students at Bowdoin will probably have to explain it, however.

cutler-eliot_webCome on, admit it! It’s a brilliant idea. What could go wrong? We could all monitor the campaigns’ progress without the media and without the spin of paid consultants.

So, as of this moment, who is in the lead?

On Facebook, Eliot Cutler is crushing the opposition with 19,054 Likes on his Facebook page; Governor LePage is in a respectable second-place with 16,791 Likes; and Mike Michaud rounds out the pack at 10,529 Likes.

But Twitter is a different animal. It’s shorter and edgier, which may explain why LePage is leading the pack with 1,576 followers @lepage2014. Here, Michaud moves to second with 1,219 followers @michaud2014; and Eliot Cutler finishes third (he can be verbose) with 1,153 followers @EliotCutler.

So as of today, it looks like Eliot Cutler is a shoe-in for the Blaine House with 20,207 combined Likes and Followers. LePage comes in second with 18,367; and Michaud has work to do with 11, 748.

Of course, we have yet to run the LinkedIn algorithm, but I dare say that this is a pretty accurate assessment of where each candidate stands today in the realm of social media.

Governor LePage: winner or loser in 2014?

Governor LePage: winner or loser in 2014?

Will those numbers impact their campaigns? Does social media matter in the 2014 gubernatorial race? Probably not as much as who has the best handshake, but it’s something, right?

Hello, goodbye . . . and some predictions

DSCN1587I noticed something this morning. My dogs are oblivious to the calendar. The could not care less that it is Wednesday, or even the first day of a new year. They were ready to tackle the new day with the exact level of enthusiasm and ambition they display on any other day.

Dogs, unlike most people, live in the moment. They do not reflect on the past nor do they worry about what the future may bring. They have no regrets and apparently make no predictions.

Dogs are always more than ready to eat, play and love. I think that was the name of a movie starring Julia Roberts.

I have long since abandoned the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. I live by the motto that “expectations are pre-meditated resentments.”

Two years ago, I publicly pledged on these pages to do a better job in how I conduct political debates with friends, acquaintances and strangers:  I will listen more than I speak. I will ask those who disagree with me how they came to their conclusions; and I will push myself to consider and reflect upon the contrary arguments I encounter along the way.

That resolution seemed to go the way of so many other resolutions, but it still seems more important than quitting smoking, losing weight or better organizing my sock drawer. Thus, I offer the same resolution this year.

In many ways, 2013 was a good year, and I have much to be thankful for. But, there were also some challenges. I lost a good friend to suicide. My wife and I both racked up some huge medical bills and the future seems uncertain. But the future is always uncertain. That’s why it is the future. It is unknown, full of possibility and ripe with potential.

Dogs don’t make predictions. Dogs avoid resentment. Dogs have low expectations. Dogs ignore the calendar and live completely in the present.

We are not dogs, however. We are humans and strive to control our lives, our futures. We enjoy making predictions because it helps quell the anxiety of what is ahead: the unknown.

A few days ago, I asked some friends to submit their best predictions for 2014. Here they are:

The future’s so bright?

Governor LePage: winner or loser in 2014?

Governor LePage: winner or loser in 2014?

Bad News for the GOP: It would be hard to know that my friend John Lovell is a die-hard Democrat if he never opened his mouth or approached his keyboard. John and I spar frequently, and I have immense respect for his intellect, wit and compassion. But I was not at all surprised by his predictions, which included Republicans losing several Congressional seats. He predicted Sen. Collins will lose her bid for another term and that Gov. Paul LePage will lose his re-election bid, describing him as  “the worst governor in Maine history.”

Bad News for Democrats: Matthew Angotti of Saco has a different perspective: “Obamacare woes will continue, and partially, as a result, Republicans will keep the US House, take the US Senate and even take one Maine Legislative body. Further, LePage will be reelected as Governor with 41 percent of the vote. Also, Seattle wins the Super Bowl.

Karen Moore, a Biddeford native who now lives in Colorado, is one of my favorite political foes. She is feisty, stubborn and thoughtful. She is an enigma to me, and I doubt she has any idea how much I love debating political and public policy issues with her. Karen offered a hodgepodge of predictions, saying former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be found guilty of murder during his trial this year.

Karen also predicted that George Zimmerman will kill again; and that Paul LePage will lose the Blaine House to Democrat Mike Michaud, who will then become Maine’s first gay governor. She also predicted that Republicans will lose their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and that Democrats will maintain control of the U.S. Senate; and says that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in favor of gay marriage in 2014.

Beyond politics, Karen predicted two “hurricane super storms” next fall – one of which, will hit Rhode Island, Mass and Maine. Sadly, she also predicted another mass shooting incident that will involve “50+ children” and  will be committed by “a card-carrying NRA member who passed background checks and was formerly “responsible”.

Zimmerman will kill again?

Zimmerman will kill again?

She also predicted that there “will be a huge pipeline disaster on US soil,” and that John Boehner will resign in disgrace. On a final note, Karen predicts that a former U.S. president (unnamed) “will pass away and there will controversy at the State funeral – such as Putin won’t be invited but the North Korean or Iranian dude will attend.”

Let’s pause here to pop a couple antidepressants or partake in some recreational drugs. Whew.

On a much lighter note, my friend Ernie Corrigan, a former reporter and political advisor to Tip O’Neil, predicted that Sarah Palin will travel to Maine to advise Gov. Paul LePage on “how to stop saying every crazy thing that comes into his head.” Coincidentally, he says,  Columbia Pictures announces the release of Dumb and Dumber III.

Corrigan also predicted that “Republican leaders will announce they are going to continue to try to scuttle ObamaCare with legislation they say will provide affordable health care insurance for all. They are calling it The Affordable Care Act and it is instantly embraced by Republicans as the cure for ObamaCare.”
Corrigan also predicted a major shift in federal domestic policy, when Congress “announces that it wants to spend $100 billion on mental health, saying it will reach out to people who appear to be talking to themselves while walking down the street.”  Verizon, Corrigan predicts, will immediately file a class action suit in federal court, claiming the government is targeting their customers.
Racial tensions will continue in 2014, according to Corrigan’s predictions: Democrats, he says. will announce they are going into federal court and charging Republicans with a persistent pattern of federal election violations aimed at keeping African-Americans from voting.  “During simultaneous press conferences, only African-Americans attend the Republican press conference and only white Americans attend the Democratic press conference.”
 Corrigan also places a high degree of confidence in U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Corrigan predicts that Kerry will engineer a peace accord in the Middle East with agreement from Israel, Syria, Iran and Iraq and the PLO. Soviet leader Putin attacks the accord as an attempt to destabilize the region, he adds.

Palin: Coming to Maine in 2014?

Palin: Coming to Maine in 2014?

Corrigan also says the U.S.  jobless rate will drop below 6 percent for the first time in 15 years, and that Leonardo DiCaprio will win Best Actor for his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street.  Wall Street CEOs, according to Corrigan, will say the award confirms the strong work ethic of traders on Wall Street, despite the  film’s depictions of excessive patterns of group sex, infidelity, massive drug abuse and a persistent pattern of stock fraud and greed.”

Keeping it local, State Senator David Dutremble (D-Biddeford) predicts that Rep. Paulette Beaudoin, facing term limits, will challenge him in the June 2014 Democratic primary. Reason for this prediction?  “She has openly asked me to swap seats so she can have one term as Senator and I could take her Rep seat,” Dutremble said. “She previously said she didn’t originally run to play games and step down just so someone else could just have the seat, but now she has publicly endorsed another person for her  seat, leading me to believe she will challenge my seat. I have no proof, just a prediction.”
Former colleague and award-winning columnist John Swinconeck kept his tongue firmly in cheek with his predictions for 2014:
“Early one morning in 2014, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will wake up on a bed of Hefty bags outside a Portland night club wearing a torn, black cocktail dress,” Swinconeck opined. “Hung around her neck like a pendant will be the severed ear of “Fox and Friends” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. She’ll have no memory of what transpired the night before, she only knows that she is filled with a sense of peace she has not felt for years. That day, Sebelius sneaks aboard a freighter bound for Cairo. As the vessel sails from Casco Bay, Sebelius will offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the god of second chances, grateful that the voices in her head have finally ceased. Back in Washington, the tumult over the Affordable Care Act will continue.”
My friend Harvey Ardman, an accomplished writer and journalist, predicted that “Eliot Cutler will withdraw from the Governor’s race  two months (or more) before the election and [Mike] Michaud will collect most of his votes, winning handily over LePage.”
Jesse Ventura: Maine's next governor?

Jesse Ventura: Maine’s next governor?

See if you can guess the political leanings of my friend Sally Melcher McKeagney: Jesse Ventura moves to Maine in January 2014. He is drafted to run for governor. Ventura  wins in November. Governor LePage is very angry about the loss, so angry , he tries to blow up the PPH building. Though the explosions are little more than smoke and soft pops, LePage is forced to flee  to Jamaica.  He applies for refugee status.  Jamaica doesn’t really want him. They  offer to extradite him–they say they will even pay us to take him back. But the State of Maine cites his residency status–which is not Maine–and tells Jamaica “You’re on your own!”  Jesse Ventura turns out to be just as interesting as Paul LePage, and Democrats wonder how they can get Ventura to Jamaica.”

My friend Bob Meyers predicts that the Times Record newspaper in Brunswick will cease publication as a daily in 2014 and go to 2 or possibly 3 issues per week.
My friend Bob Mentzinger, editor of the Times Record, also predicted that George Zimmerman will kill again.  Mentzinger thinks LePage will be re-elected because Independent Eliot Cutler will remain in the race too long, waiting for a repeat of the 2010 surge.  On a final note, Mentzinger predicts the Carolina Panthers will win the Super Bowl, it will snow through April; and that the Dow will hit 18,000.
So there you go! Let the games begin and bring on 2014! Be careful out there, and remember: it’s never a bad idea to hold hands and keep your expectations in check.