On Friday, my smartphone, (the one that is way smarter than me) started buzzing in the back pocket of my L.L. Bean jeans. By the time I fished it out, it had stopped. Then, it started buzzing again.
“Hello... Who is this?” I said.
“Who do you think, old dog. Who else would call you in the afternoon, unless it was a bill collector or a Nigerian prince looking for cash.”
Yes, once again, it was none other than Ms. Pigette, the iconic Boothbay landmark that holds up a mailbox on Route 27 across the street from Joan Rittall’s home. From her perch, she sees all, and tells all.
“Sorry Ms. P. What set you off this time? Did someone splash mud on your back to school outfit – again,” I asked.
“Never mind that, did you see it,” she said.
“See what,” I said.
“It. The Sept. 4 edition of “The Hill,” she said.
For the uninitiated, “The Hill” is an online Capitol Hill tout sheet that is filled with lots of political goodies, including some stuff that is not in canned press releases. It is rated as being usually reliable.
Ms. P was nearly shouting when she said: “It says Lincoln County is a bell-weather county, one of 10 American counties that could be the key to the 2020 presidential race.”
I put her on hold and Googled The Hill and read the story. She was right. Lincoln County was featured in a story showing just how close the divide was in the 2016 presidential race.
Quoting Colin Woodard, a knowledgeable political reporter with close ties to Boothbay, it said: “Lincoln County reflects many of today’s most fraught political dividing lines all in one and all well-balanced.
“A mix of working-class fishermen, deep-pocketed retirees (both liberal and conservative). Those rival factions fought to a near draw in 2016. Clinton won Lincoln County, 47.6 percent to 45.2 percent – nearly identical to her two-point win in the popular vote. If Trump keeps his blue collar base, or if ancestral Republicans break against him and cost him the White House, Lincoln County will be the microcosm through which to view the 2020 outcome,” said Woodard in an email to “The Hill.”
Ms. P buzzed my phone again. “Did you read that? I am sure the national press will be coming in to interview our citizens and who better to give them the real scoop than moi,” she said.
“I can’t wait. I will start with that cute Tucker Carlson and his bow tie, and Chuckie Todd and his brand new beard. I will give them all an ear full. Do you think that distinguished Wolf Blitzer will come to see me?”
As a large DOT truck rumbled past her post, she lost the signal and dropped my call.
I took the time to call the press offices of Sen. Angus King and Susan Collins to see if they had any inside information on possible presidential campaign schedules.
“Interesting,” said a King aide. “We don’t have anything on that, and as the senator is about the only member of the Senate not running for president, he is working.
A junior Collins aide said it was way too early to know if a Lincoln County presidential visit was being scheduled.“But, you never know,” he said.
I called Ms. P and told her not to get too excited about a presidential visit, or possible national press coverage.
The last time we hosted a president, it was not a campaign stop. In August 1962, President John F. Kennedy and his sister, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, stopped by to attend Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Boothbay Harbor.
While the president is unlikely to visit Lincoln County, that doesn’t mean his supporters will just sit around and hope. As a sitting president, he can expect to have strong statewide support as he contests the March 3 Maine primary election.
As for the Democratic party candidate, no one knows who will be on the Maine primary ballot.
Based on the best information we have so far, the hottest political contest in Maine is likely to be the race for the U.S. Senate where Sen. Collins is expected to have a fierce re-election battle to keep the seat she has held since 1997.
I told Ms. Pigette not to get all excited about the 2020 presidential political battles as they are a long way away.
“I know, I know, but ‘The Hill’ predicts that Lincoln County will be a battleground and that means TV cameras and lots more attention for me. I can’t wait. Now, I suppose I will need a new outfit or two. I can’t wait,” she said.