Convention Notes

by Jonathan Reisman

I attended the 2024 Maine Republican Party Convention in Augusta, aptly named “Restoring Freedom.” What follows are my Statler and Waldorf intern observations and notes.

Washington County GOP Chair David Whitney Elected National Committeeman. Dave won an impressive victory to the national board, emphasizing the importance of local town committees in organizing and getting out the vote. His success in revitalizing the Washington County GOP and allying with social and economic conservatives across the state is a blueprint for electoral success and restoring freedom.

Rules Fight Mash-up. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Blazing Saddles all came to mind during an oh-so-serious but hard to take seriously floor fight over rules minutia. In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Kid (Robert Redford) inquires about rules in a knife fight and when reminded that there are none, promptly dispatches his opponent without regard to the Marquis of Queensbury. In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Blazing Saddles, outlaws posing as law enforcement loudly proclaim that they ”don’t need no stinking badges.” After 20 minutes of impassioned, but largely irrelevant debate, I wanted to shout, “We don’t need no stinking rules.”

Soboleski vs. Theriault 2nd CD primary. The debate between 67-year-old Marine veteran Mike Soboleski and 30-year-old former NASCAR driver Austin Theriault was one of the more entertaining and consequential events of the Convention. Western Maine’s Soboleski is the more grounded and experienced conservative, while Aroostook County’s flashy Theriault has establishment GOP swamp backing and vastly more money. I was longing to clone part of each to create the perfect candidate to unseat Jared Golden–Soboleski’s veteran bona fides and his strong record of tenaciously fighting woke progressive nonsense and nostrums coupled with Theriault’s youth, energy, social conservatism, and Franco roots. I put up a Soboleski sign when I got home Saturday evening.

Demi Kouzunas, King-slayer?  I did not see or hear much from presumed Senate nominee Demi Kouzunas on what her agenda is or how and why she hopes to defeat Angus King. I saw no evidence that she understands that the road to victory runs through the 2nd Congressional District.

Education Policy Reform. An emerging coalition of homeschoolers, concerned parents, social conservatives, and education reform advocates looks poised to affect school board and legislative elections in 2024. The Maine Policy Institute released a devastating assessment entitled “The Decline of Maine K-12 Education 1984-2022” (available at https://mainepolicy.org/project/education-decline/). It will be fuel to promote school choice and education reforms. The road to better educated non-indoctrinated kids and a healthier Maine starts with GOP control of the legislature and Blaine House, school choice, parental control of education, and a thorough disempowerment of the Maine Education Association, otherwise known as woke, socialist climate alarmists are us. 

SWAG Bags. The 2014 convention featured a red zippered fabric tote swag bag that I still use for groceries, although not in woke southern Maine. I would not want to trigger some multi-pierced, tattooed, zoomer, social justice warrior at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods in the Peoples Republic of Portland. I wonder whether Portland’s progressives have figured out that the housing crisis is directly related to rent control, illegal immigration, and high-interest rates due to inflationary spending. The 2024 swag bag was red plastic, which as a fossil fuel product, might still trigger the climate alarmist left. The camo hat with the elephant was a gift from Senator Collins to the convention delegates. I am not sure whether it was to bolster her 2nd Amendment/military bona fides or to remind conservatives that an elephant never forgets. Included in the plastic SWAG bag were numerous candidate blurbs on expensive stock and one reminder of the difference between Republicans and Democrats–a copy of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Gettysburg Address. The Constitution makes it clear that we are a Republic, not a Democracy. The Declaration makes it clear that our rights come from the Creator, not the Government. In the Gettysburg Address conclusion, President Lincoln pledged “that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

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