"The business of Maine is going to be business," Republican candidate for Maine governor Paul LePage told about 100 supporters last week at a rally on the steps of the Waterville City Hall.
We hope LePage can maintain that message discipline over the next five months leading up to the general election. In fact, we hope all the candidates in the race can do the same.
It won't be easy.
Two weeks before the primary, a TV debate moderator threw LePage a curveball question: "Do you believe in creationism, and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?"
Creationists believe that evolution alone cannot account for the diversity and order of life on Earth, and that the hand of a creating deity must have been involved. Most scientists believe otherwise.
While this has been a hot topic in some states, it has not been an issue here, and it doesn't seem to have been part of LePage's platform, which does include opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
And his answer seemed to reflect that he wasn't expecting the question:
"I would say intelligence, uh, the more education you have the more knowledge you have the better person you are, and I believe yes and yes."
Ah, a wedge issue is born. Paul LePage is a creationist.
Soon, liberal bloggers were tearing into the issue and the website dirigoblue.com was offering bumper stickers for $4.65, "No Creationism in Public Schools. No Paul LePage."
This is how manufactured issues can take over a campaign and knock candidates off their established priorities.
Which was one of the warnings delivered by LePage's former Republican opponents as they locked arms behind him last week and vowed to support him in the general election — stick to the basics.
It's the economy. It's jobs, it's about the efficiency and effectiveness of state government.
Don't get dragged into social issues and, by all means, distance yourself from the more radical tenets of the tea party.
The next governor of Maine isn't going to abolish the Federal Reserve, block the Law of the Sea Treaty and return America to the principles of Austrian Economics, no matter what the Knox County wing of the Republican Party would like to see happen.
Far and away more Mainers would be happy to have secure jobs, lower taxes and a brighter future for their children.
Of course, anybody has a right to ask any candidate any question they want. But we wish more candidates had the self-restraint not to take the bait.
"I have my views on that, but it is simply not relevant to the issues before us, like jobs, taxes and building our economy."
When our next governor gets those things straightened out, perhaps then we can work on the mysteries of the universe.