As you prepare to cast your ballot in the June 10 primary election, keep this thought in mind:
Don’t vote for kooks.
Not that I have anything against your garden-variety kook. Some of my best friends are kooks. It’s just that there are already enough of these whack jobs in elective offices. Time to give some other category of weirdo an opportunity to make a mess of things. Homicidal maniacs, maybe. Or people who care passionately about which comic strips the local daily newspaper runs.
Trouble is, it’s often hard to tell just how kooky a candidate really is. Few political hopefuls are as accommodating as Joseph Greenier of Stockton Springs, a Democrat seeking a state Senate seat in Waldo County, who told the Bangor Daily News he was refusing to debate his opponent and told the Morning Sentinel, “I’m the only one that really wants to help people in this county and the people in this state.”
The only one? What are all the others? Space aliens waiting for us to fall asleep so they can replace us with pod people?
Greenier understands the first rule of kookiness: Make extreme statements full of unverifiable assertions. Like:
“I think I care the most about all the people.”
That’s Diane Messer of Liberty, discussing her candidacy for the state Senate with the Sentinel. She’s running against ... uh oh, she’s running against Greenier in the Democratic primary. Fortunately, most residents of Waldo County vote Republican, anyway.
Not that the GOP doesn’t have its share of kooks. Here’s a posting from the MySpace page of Erick Bennett, who’s running for a state House seat in Oakland and Sidney: “I was in line at Starbucks today letting my mind wander and the thought popped in my head, ‘Do you know why Barack’s initals (sic) are B.O., because he stinks.’” There’s other strange stuff there, too. And not strange in a good way.
Bennett’s primary opponent is Robert Nutting, a former legislator and former subject of a 2004 state investigation that revealed his now-bankrupt pharmacy in Oakland owed the state more than a million bucks for Medicaid over-billing. To Nutting’s credit, he doesn’t have a MySpace page.
Odd, isn’t it, how the kooky candidates seem to accumulate in clusters. Maybe it’s some hitherto unknown form of radiation given off by antiquated rural Internet connections. Or in Portland, it could be proximity to the Old Port.
Whatever it is, sorting out your locals kooks should be simple enough. Look out for people campaigning while wearing beanies with propellers on top (“I’m using wind power”). Watch out for brochures that contain endorsements from your neighbors who are brain-dead, really dead, or undead (“Maine has nothing to fear from flesh-eating zombies”). And give a wide berth to anyone wearing buttons that say, “If you like the current governor, you’ll love me” or “If you like Michael Heath, you’ll love me — in a purely platonic sense, of course. What did you think I meant, pervert?”
Unfortunately, the higher up the political ladder they climb, the more difficult it becomes to detect kooks. They hire handlers, whose job is to disguise these budding politicians as rational people. Take the 1st District congressional candidates, for example.
They all look normal. Except Mike Brennan, in those weird TV spots that seem to be transmissions from outer space.
They all speak in a normal fashion. Even if what Mark Lawrence says about impeachment comes off sounding like pandering to the loony left.
They all conduct themselves appropriately. Although, Ethan Strimling tried to claim an endorsement he didn’t get, and Chellie Pingree takes money from sources she supposedly opposes.
They’re for change. Although, in Adam Cote’s case, that seems to mean the random changing of political parties.
They don’t insist on running over and over for the same position, even though voters have made it clear they aren’t interested. Except Charlie Summers.
They don’t wear those Michael Heath pins. Except Dean Scontras.
And none of them is a Steve Meister-like complete unknown who’s in this race for no discernable reason. Except Steve Meister.
In the Democratic primary for the US Senate, Tom Allen is not a kook. He’s an anti-kook — a kook only in some alternative universe where kookiness and normal behavior are reversed. He’s so unkooky, it’s almost ... kooky. Which could be a problem, because his communications director, Carol Andrews, is already exceeding the recommended kookiness level for one campaign. Check her out on YouTube (youtube.com/watch?v=Hlqe6EbSnuY). Although, you’ve got to think that camera guy she shut down is kind of a wuss.
Allen’s opponent, Tom Ledue, is actually Steve Meister. I mean, you’ve never seen Ledue and Meister together, right? Come to think of it, you’ve never seen Ledue and Allen together, either.
The winner of that Senate primary will take on Republican incumbent Susan Collins. Nobody would call a sitting US senator a kook.
Most people use much uglier terms.
Call me names by firstname.lastname@example.org.