It's official: the Tea Party is the dominant force in once-moderate Maine Republican Party.
Yesterday, Republican voters chose the Tea Party's preferred gubernatorial candidate, Paul LePage, by a staggering margin, giving him nearly 40% of the vote in a hotly-contested seven-way race to be the party's nominee. He got more than twice the votes of the GOP establishment's choice, Les Otten, and nearly triple the support of the candidate who had the best chance of winning in the general election, Peter Mills.
The Tea Party upset comes on the heels of their seizure of the Maine GOP platform at last month's convention, a document Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has called a "manifesto of insanity." Mr. LePage, who doesn't believe in global warming, but thinks creationism should be taught in schools, has catered to this crowd, causing worry among even sympathetic analysts.
On the Democratic side, the establishment candidate, Libby Mitchell, edged out her competitors for the nomination, setting up a "Politics as Usual" vs "Politics Disturbingly Unusual" race for the Blaine House.
Prediction: the results bode well for independent candidate Eliot Cutler, who can occupy the valuable middle ground.
[Update, 9/10/10: The AP's analysis story agrees, while even the New Yorker devotes some webspace to LePage and, yes, Marden's....]