It’s all about ME



Maine’s official postal abbreviation is “ME.” That allows for rampant use of the short form for double entendre slogans of every description: “Put ME to Work,” “Educate ME,” “ME First” (a state wellness program) and “Salute ME” (veterans’ mortgage assistance). Then there’s the unnerving “Help Fix ME,” which presumably refers to cats and dogs only, and which should NOT go on our license plate.

Two-letter state abbreviations were designated by the U.S. Postal Service to allow mail to be sorted by automated scanning devices. Only a handful of states have a two-letter code with standalone meaning.

Idaho has the introspective ID. Oklahoma has the chamber-of-commerce friendly OK and Hawaii the welcoming HI. There’s MA (Massachusetts) and PA (Pennsylvania), and the lame-ish sounding IN and OR (Indiana and Oregon). Ohio claims the uncertain OH, which really should be punctuated. Is it “OH?” or “OH!” or “OH OH OH!”

But Maine’s ME has the most potential. Chances are, whenever “ME” appears in a slogan, it is the product of a branding campaign by state government or a chamber of commerce. The following are still available: “Give ME a Break,” “Leave it to ME,” “It’s All about ME,” “Show ME the Money,” “Don’t Ask ME” and “Make ME Great Again.”

Then there are our emblematic state “things,” of which we have approximately a billion. The latest is a state crustacean, courtesy of third graders from the Brewer Community School. Challenged by their teachers to develop a bill and take it to the legislature, they chose the lobster promo, descended on Augusta 100-strong and got the job done.

The optics of a committee of grumpy old men (and women) rejecting a proposal from 100 adorable children are simply terrible. Not gonna happen. Former legislator and Brewer City Manager Steve Bost said, “I can’t imagine anyone arguing against this.”

Apparently Bost did not know the late Sen. Chuck Begley, an old-school Republican with a love of mischief who would not have hesitated to be the lone “no” vote on the state crustacean. He would have justified his vote (as he once did on a different kid-driven proposal) with a beatific smile, as “a way to teach children to cope with disappointment.” And he would have experienced not a moment of regret.

Do not try this trick with a policy issue, such as school funding. Legislators may be suckers for a little child pleading for lobster recognition, but when it comes to money, they are not so indulgent. Those innocent little faces, full of zeal and hope, lose their appeal if anyone dares to deploy them in support of, say, their own education.

Speaking of zeal and hope, the filing deadline for legislative races has passed. You can check out who the party candidates are at maine.gov/elections. A number of golden oldies show up. Nonparty candidates (independents or unenrolled) will not appear on this list because they do not have primaries.

Former Senate President Mark Lawrence is chasing a House seat; former Sen. Dana Dow hopes to come back to the Senate. Dow is an iconic Mainer, slow of speech, wry of wit and thick of accent. Brewer Community School third graders, take note. He could be a state “thing.”

So could Herb Adams, running for a House seat from Portland. Adams is an encyclopedia of Maine history with near-total recall who previously served eight terms in the House. State crustacean? Quite possibly.

Michael Carpenter of Houlton is running, a former attorney general who served a term in the House and five in the Senate; so is well known environmentalist Brownie Carson of Harpswell.

In Hancock County, former Bar Harbor representative Ted Koffman will try again to unseat Sen. Brian Langley of Ellsworth, now in his third term. Koffman will have a primary against Moira O’Neill of Surry. Raise your hand if you remember Guy Lebida, a builder on MDI and once a member of the Bar Harbor Planning Board. He lives in Bowdoin now and is running for the state Senate.

John Linnehan may take on Rep. Louie Luchini in Ellsworth. Linnehan says he’s “a place holder candidate.” That is a battle that would likely be about as successful as Linnehan’s challenge to Sen. Dennis Damon in 2004. Linnehan set a state record for campaign spending; Damon beat him 2:1.

Shenna Bellows of Manchester (with roots in Hancock), a Democrat who fought the good (but unwinnable) fight against U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2014, is running for a state Senate seat. This is likely a better point of entry to politics for Bellows. Even though it is a five-way melee for an open seat, she will be a strong candidate.

The surreal presidential election is squeezing the oxygen out of the room just now and will likely continue to do so right through the summer party conventions and the fall general election. That doesn’t mean you get to take a pass on Maine’s June 14 primaries. They will decide the party candidates for the legislature next fall. If all seems hopeless at the federal level, we do have plenty of influence here at home. Don’t miss your chance to weigh in.

 

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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