ETHAN GOES FOR IT - Or, well, he'll maybe think about it

Okay, so on Friday, Ethan Strimling, a state senator serving part of Portland, held a big get-together in the West End, at which he told the assembled masses, "I am officially announcing today, in front of you, that I am exploring the possibility of entering the race for United States Congress."

Which doesn't take us far beyond the long-rumored interest Strimling has had in the seat Tom Allen has held since 1997. (Allen's running for Senate, against Susan Collins, largely by trying to equate Collins with our fearless president, and by pretending that he considers the US military very important, despite having given up his seat on the House Armed Services Committee in 2004.)

But Strimling has done us all a huge favor, by listing his backers (on his site, and in a press release). Now, when he's making decisions, either in Washington or Augusta, we know who's talking in his ear.

Anyway, Strimling's backers are very Establishment - folks like Dennis Bailey (PR flack to the stars - Angus King, Casinos No, and a host of others); exploration leader Bobby Monks (er, that's Robert C.S. Monks - the S is for Sprague) of Cape Elizabeth, who in 2004 held a $500-a-plate fundraising dinner for Hillary Clinton's campaign to represent New York in the US Senate; Rosemary Baldacci (the gov's sister); Leon Gorman, chairman of LL Bean; pollster Frank O'Hara; Daniel Reardon, former Bass Shoe CEO; George Campbell, president of the Boulos Company's New England division; Vince Conti, president of Maine Medical Center; and various folks from the state Democratic establishment.

There are a few activists, like Darlene Huntress of EqualityMaine, Cara Bilodeau from the Maine Women's Policy Center, and Betsy Sweet of the Maine Women's Lobby, as well as a few law-enforcement types, including Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion and Kennebec/Somerset District Attorney Evert Fowle.

Interestingly, there are a couple of political appointees whose ability to advocate for political candidates is, at best, questionable: Dale McCormick, director of the Maine State Housing Authority; and Bath superintendent of schools William Shuttleworth.

Maybe all those people - the list of people on the exploration committee numbers 41 in all - can help Strimling make a decision.

Check out the video of his announcement at MaineWebReport - including commentary on his apparent efforts to subvert federal military spending into state bridge-building projects, and read the transcript of Strimling's announcement on TurnMaineBlue, a Web site whose efforts are pretty self-explanatory.

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