I am, like so many of my male brethren, a notorious late shopper.
But for you, dear reader, I have an early Christmas gift. Bold predictions for the coming year, guaranteed to be right, 73.27 percent of the time. And this is a gift I have given you every year since 2011.
Last year, my predictions were so good that one of them, that Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci would take a pass on a run for Congress, came true before 2013 was even over.
They were so bold that a game of one-upsmanship began, with liberal columnist Ethan Strimling claiming a set of “bolder” predictions. While I’ve always been a trend setter, you can rest assured that Ethan’s predictions were in fact less bold, and also less accurate than mine. In fact, Ethan got nearly all his wrong.
And what were my bold predictions from last year? Well, the Baldacci run that wasn’t, of course (check). That Mike Michaud would disappoint Democrats and lose the election (check). That Eliot Cutler would stay in the race until the very end, but that his “late surge” from 2010 would not repeat itself (check). That Erick Bennett wouldn’t make the ballot against Sen. Susan Collins (check).
I predicted that Angus King would prove his own irrelevance (check), but even I couldn’t have predicted just how spectacularly he would prove that this year, with his abortive Cutler endorsement and switch to Michaud right before he went down in flames.
I nailed that the Republicans would take back the Senate, but not the House (check), and that Paul LePage would crush Michaud in Michaud’s home congressional district (check). And I predicted President Obama would be a major liability for Democrats (check).
I also predicted a few duds, such as the Legislature getting nothing of substance done (they did), or that Brian Bolduc’s troubles would continue (they didn’t). I also thought Cary Weston would beat Geoff Gratwick (he didn’t), and that Charlie Longo would find something else to run for (he is now an insurance agent, it seems).
All in all, not too shabby. But I think I can raise my game. After all, it is Christmas and you deserve it. And so, here I give to you, 15 bold predictions for 2015.
Bold prediction 1: Welfare reform will end up being a bipartisan, widely supported initiative. It won’t go as far as the governor would like, but it will be substantial, meaningful, and will be one of LePage’s crowning achievements from his time in office.
Bold prediction 2: The governor is going to “go big or go home” on the issue of tax reform, and much like welfare reform, we will see a broad, bipartisan coalition come together at the end to pass something bold.
Bold prediction 3: The topic of energy will be an issue where the partisan squabbles will continue, however. This is where divided government may kill some important reforms.
Bold prediction 4: Angus King will be even more irrelevant than he already was, given the new Republican majority in the Senate. But the warm power of his mustache will keep him relatively popular.
Bold prediction 5: “Governor Susan Collins” will be a topic that is discussed. Yes, even 3 years before the next election.
Bold prediction 6: So will “Governor Mary Mayhew” and “Governor Roger Katz”.
Bold prediction 7: Common Core is going to see its end in Maine.
Bold prediction 8: Bruce Poliquin will quietly become a very good, pragmatic congressman. He’ll be more visible in Washington, will be a part of governing, and will have excellent constituent services.
Bold prediction 9: He’ll also terrify potential Democratic challengers in 2016 with his fundraising numbers.
Bold prediction 10: Despite desperate attempts to field a serious candidate, no one of any stature will emerge to challenge Chellie Pingree in 2016. Again.
Bold prediction 11: Republicans will be a great deal more cohesive, compared to 2011. They will trust the governor more than they did then, and he will have less tolerance for dissent.
Bold prediction 12: This will be the year when Maine (finally) changes how it elects the attorney general and secretary of state.
Bold prediction 13: [Self-serving prediction alert] The Maine Heritage Policy Center will be deeply involved in everything that happens in Augusta in ways that it has never been involved before. I promise.
Bold prediction 14: Maine’s economy will continue to improve, and Gov. LePage’s approval rating will go up as a result.
Bold prediction 15: Presidential candidates, from both parties, will be in the heat of primary season, but will actually set up operations in Maine and plan to contest the race here. Maine’s governor will make an endorsement, and it will be for a similarly blunt talking governor from the East Coast.
I send you my warmest greetings and wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and safe and prosperous New Year.