State of Maine: Candidates both calm and cranky

Hancock County has a great batch of candidates running for seats in the legislature. To their credit they have said nary a word about each other. They are eager to tell you why they are running and what they hope to accomplish, but they are universally disinclined to speak ill of their opponents.

We don‘t expect much of campaign season and statewide races do not disappoint. Incumbent Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin and his Democratic challenger, Jared Golden, have been sniping at each other from the get-go. A recent Poliquin mailer offered a dictionary definition of “liar,” a bit risky for the man who said he had not voted against the Affordable Care Act.

Poliquin’s mailer lays out Golden’s “problem with the truth.” This may be the first time a candidate was attacked for impersonating a dentist. He “claims work for a dentist,” says the ad, and “took home $23,000 from the office.” Not everyone who works in a dental office is a dentist, right? “Golden: a dental worker?” screams the headline. “Golden: a bank robber?” might give one pause, but a hysterical accusation about Golden as a dental worker does not impress. The coup de grace: “We Can’t Trust Young Jared Golden.” Young Jared Golden is 36. Young Jared Golden was old enough to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Young-radical-risky-socialist-Pelosi” are Poliquin’s talking points. “Lies and dirty attacks” are Golden’s. None of this is instructive.

At one point in a recent debate Will Hoar, one of two independent candidates in the congressional race, tried to break through the back-and-forth between the party candidates.

“We were asked about…trying to create programs for trying to get rid of [student] debt and we should stick to that.”

Good for you, Will Hoar, for trying to elicit something other than “blah blah blah Nancy Pelosi” and blah blah blah “super Pac…dirty campaign” from the partisan opponents. The other independent, Tiffany Bond, also tried to speak to the questions at hand rather than rip into her opponents, saying “This is why we’re getting nothing done.” She had no more luck than Hoar in keeping the attention focused on issues.

The award for bizarre ads surely goes to Eric Brakey, Republican challenger to Senator Angus King. A recent Brakey mailer portrayed the buttoned-down Angus King as a hippie, “too far out for Maine.” It included a lava lamp and King flashing the peace sign. What does that even mean?

This from a man who, in his acting career, was filmed dancing in a Speedo, and then attempted to get out in front of that with another video of himself dancing in a suit and tie on the grounds of the State House. He’s got moves, but inexplicably sprawling on a tree branch may not be the most persuasive argument in the race against King.

Then there is Brakey’s general distaste for federal government. The people in Washington are “getting rich,” said Brakey in an Ellsworth American interview. He said it was “frustrating” to have the federal government control policies that should be left to states. He asked, “Who do we think knows our state better — D.C. or Maine?” And every day he sends out emails beseeching Mainers to send him money so that he can get himself down to that very D.C. and be part of the political horror show.

There are five Hancock County races under way. Two, for Registrar of Deeds and Sheriff, are unopposed, with incumbents Julie Curtis and Scott Kane the only candidates. Sheriff Kane has gotten deeply into the drug issues that plague the county. Law enforcement is often the point of entry into the system for drug offenders and Kane has researched successful programs in other states which might lead to more effective intervention.

The candidates for District Attorney also have drug abuse on their minds. Incumbent Matt Foster intends to be a strong prosecutor but is also mindful of treatment options. Challenger Steven Juskewitch would guarantee an assigned drug prosecutor in Washington and Hancock counties.

There is a contest for Judge of Probate though many of us may not be sure just what that official does. Mostly, they oversee the estates of the deceased and matters of guardianship and adoptions. Republican incumbent William Blaisdell of Ellsworth is being challenged by Democrat Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor. Both acknowledge the sensitive nature of Probate Court cases. Blaisdell looks for common ground within families; Williams wants to focus on preserving positive relationships among those who come before the court.

For the County Commissioner seat in District 2, Democrat John Wombacher (Bucksport) is challenging Percy “Joe” Brown (Deer Isle) who has served 16 years on the Commission. Both are interested in the economic development of their district.

Final word? Vote. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.

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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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