Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

My Photo
Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Election reflections


After a full year of intense activity the campaign to elect Lisa Savage for the US Senate is over.  She got 5% of the vote, securing 40,191 votes across every corner of the state, while the Republican incumbent Susan Collins won the race with 51% of the vote.  Because Collins got 50% plus one vote Maine's new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system was not needed.

Polls prior to the election asked voters who they would rank as their 2nd choice under RCV and Lisa led in that ranking with 33% - more than any of the other candidates.  I believe this reveals quite clearly that Lisa did in fact make a deep impression on Maine voters with her calm, articulate, respectful, and knowledgeable performance as a candidate.  This was particularly evident in the first four debates in which she participated - with most debate watchers saying that Lisa had won them.

There were various issues that arose during the campaign which indicated that the Democrats worked overtime to disrupt Lisa's growing likeability with Maine voters.  We repeatedly heard from key activists across the state that rumors were being circulated that included the following:

  • The Democrats were spreading lies that Lisa's campaign was being funded by the Republican Susan Collins as a way to defeat the Democrat Sara Gideon.
  • One person I know in Maine sent me this message: "A lawyer prof friend of mine sent out a message last night to probably a lot of people, urging them to rank Gideon #1 for two reasons.  The first was an apparently incorrect interpretation of RCV. [In other words, don't trust RCV, it won't work as advertised.] However, the second one posited a scenario in which Collins pulls a  Poliquin [former Republican Congressman who lost his seat due to RCV] and contests an RCV loss in court, persisting further than Poliquin to an obviously iffy situation in the new Supreme Court."

  • "I know the law prof is a Gideon supporter, but she has a long history of integrity and sometimes-ground-breaking work in civil rights and gender issues, and it's hard to fit dirty Dem politics into her worldview, so I'm not sure she is being a Dem tool."

Thus many loyal Democrats - hearing from a 'law professor' - were frightened to death. If they had the slightest inclination to rank Lisa first they surely gave up the idea on a false claim that RCV doesn't really work!

The money raised in this campaign was obscene.  Sara Gideon led the pack with over $68 million and Susan Collins came in next with more than $26 million.  Lisa Savage raised about $193,000 which to me is one hell of alot of money.  One Lisa campaign volunteer created this graphic to show the cost per vote in the election.  It's not exact but close enough to make the point.

According to analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, 92 percent of individual contributions to Collins and 93 percent received by Gideon came from outside of Maine. 

I've marginally helped on a few campaigns in my time but my volunteer work on this campaign was more than any other before.  I can say without hesitation that my vote for Lisa Savage was my most proud vote of my life. The other was with my vote for Sen. George McGovern in 1972 when he lost the race for president against Richard Nixon.  I was in the Air Force at the time - during the Vietnam War.

There have been many times over the years when I went into the voting booth and walked away not having chosen any of the candidates - thus handing in a blank ballot.  

Reading the many comments by Lisa supporters on various Internet platforms I can say that there were many voters in Maine with similar views.  They were inspired by the teacher/activist who gave voice to their demands for Medicare for All, deep concerns about Climate crisis, opposition to endless war and much more.  To have Lisa in the four debates speaking to these issues was a great victory.

Lisa was denied entry into the last debate when the WMTW TV station in Portland (owned by the Hearst media corporation) refused to allow her to participate.  The corporation's lawyer claimed that Lisa and the other Independent candidate were not 'newsworthy'. Lisa's team quickly posted an online petition that was signed by 2,600 people and on the evening of the debate Lisa and about 30 supporters went to the station attempting to enter the event.  The station blocked her entry and refused to take a copy of the petitions. A video of this attempt was viewed on Facebook over 8,600 times.

It seemed fairly obvious to me that the two mainstream parties pulled strings at the corporate level to get Lisa excluded from the debate.  Particularly the Democrats had the most to lose by having Lisa in the last debate as it was likely the time when many 'undecided' procrastinating voters tuned in to make their final decision on who they would support. It was a dirty trick but once again revealed to anyone paying attention the lengths the two big-money parties will go to in order to shut out alternative voices.



Quite a number of people are urging Lisa to run again for another office but it is unlikely that she will do so.  She does intend to stay involved in the issues that she cares most about - people, planet and peace.  She is already talking about wanting to ensure that we keep many of the new people attracted to her campaign involved in on-going work here in Maine.

Yesterday Lisa and I spent five hours driving around various parts of Maine picking up campaign signs from the side of roads.  We had lots of time to talk about the past year.  I remember so many days when she was dog tired but still she got herself out the door and drove to various communities in order to attend farmers markets.  It was one of the few places she could go during this pandemic to actually talk with voters - masked and social distancing - but still doing the work of a candidate.

It was an honor to have Lisa stay with us at our home in Bath during the past few months due to the fact that she needed a good Wifi connection to run her campaign.  Her home in rural Maine, like so many others in the state, have poor broadband connection.  Her husband Mark came most weekends for a visit.

So now life must return to 'normal' and Mary Beth and I have one campaign task left to do.  On Sunday we will drive on Hwy 27 to Farmington to pick up the last batch of campaign signs I planted in the ground.  After that it will all just be one great fleeting memory.



Blogger Lisa Savage said...

Bruce forgot to mention that he's the one who talked me into this after Greens invited me to consider. His pitch was, "We'll have so much fun!" It turned out to be mostly hard work but there was some fun in there for sure.

The Lisa for Maine team definitely plans to keep the momentum going. hoping for some new media platforms. This is an amazingly gifted bunch of people, compassionate and fired up. Who know what we'll take on next?

11/7/20, 2:52 PM  
Blogger Charles D said...

It seems to me that people in Maine either did not understand how ranked choice voting works or were decieved about it by the Democrats. Perhaps as Mainers get more experience with RCV in local and state elections, they will use it to their advantage next time around.

I find it hard to believe that less than 10% of Democrats in Maine support the policy positions Lisa Savage ran on. Keep hope alive!

11/7/20, 3:39 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

The mainstream media failed the voters in Maine big time. They rarely talked about RCV. Lisa was the only candidate that really did on a regular basis. The media should have been explaining to folks how RCV worked but I believe the reason they didn't do that is because they wanted Sara Gideon to win and knew that RCV would help Lisa too much.

11/7/20, 5:25 PM  
Anonymous DONALD W KIMBALL Jr. said...

Happy to have had Lisa on my show, Friendly Fire, A Voice For Veterans on WMPG-FM, twice during the campaign. An honest and honorable candidate, Lisa is exactly the type of politician we need in DC! One who will fight for the Earth, good union jobs, health care for all and stop to endless wars. Thanks to her and Bruce for all your hard work for the people and the planet!

11/9/20, 9:37 AM  
Blogger JK Pease said...

As a Betsy Sweet Democrat, It was a no brainer to vote for Lisa for #1 and rank Gideon #2. I still find it hard to believe that Collins got 51%, as I thought it would play out like Jared Golden’s 2018 race, with Sara getting 46-47% and Lisa’s supporters putting Sara over 50%.
Perhaps because folks from Lewiston and north of Lewiston viewed Gideon as an outsider, supported by outsiders? Or more likely, the Democrats misrepresenting RCV...I heard one progressive Democrat implying on Facebook that a vote for Lisa #1 could have a spoiler effect on Sara’s chances. Seriously??? Democrats should have welcomed Lisa’s candidacy.

11/9/20, 9:45 AM  
Blogger Elaine said...

Thanks A LOT Bruce, for all the work you did - and in a variety of ways - to support Lisa!
Bless you both,

11/9/20, 6:32 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

JK Pease: You are quite correct - the Dems were putting out the line that 'Lisa would be a spoiler' statewide in spite of us having RCV. It was sad to hear but not much we could do about it. Lisa even mentioned this 'fearmongering' during one of the debates. But there was such hysteria during the campaign around Trump-Collins that most Dems just got swept away by the nonsense.

11/10/20, 10:56 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Oh, yes, it was an honor to be able to help in the way I did. She made me so proud during the debates. She was truthful, to the point, and spoke as an elected official should. I'm hoping all the young people who are politically inclined picked up a few pointers from a great teacher!!

11/10/20, 11:01 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home