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Low expectations

Talking Politics
By AL DIAMON  |  July 1, 2009

There are some important qualities I'd like to see in the next governor of Maine. But they're all pretty boring. So let's get to what I wouldn't like to see.

I don't want anybody who's crazy. I'm not voting for a slimeball. I don't find dull to be an attractive trait. Likewise, an attitude that indicates an indifference to, or an ignorance of, the complex details of state policy. I'm unimpressed by a resume that includes a history of business failures. And I think a candidate who brags about having little or no experience in politics is demonstrating the sort of stupidity that would disqualify him or her for an entry-level position at the average fast-food franchise.

That seems to eliminate all the actual or potential gubernatorial hopefuls for 2010. So, I'll be calling it a day and hitting the bar early. I'll check back with you before the 2014 election.

Just kidding. Even though the latest infestation of Blaine House hopefuls is composed of characters so unappealing that I've considered calling for a constitutional amendment to allow John Baldacci to stay in office for another four years (still kidding — nobody's that unappealing), that doesn't mean it isn't my duty to denigrate these doofusses.

Les Otten was once the chairman of American Skiing Co., a job from which he was forced after failing to turn anything remotely resembling a profit. ASC was eventually sold off for parts. Otten was also a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox. During his tenure, the team signed Julio Lugo to an expensive four-year contract. If Otten is elected governor, rumor has it that Lugo will be appointed to the Maine Supreme Court. Which is preferable to having him at Fenway Park playing shortstop.

Otten, who now heads a wood-pellet company, is running as a moderate Republican, which is what he claimed to be on the several occasions over the last dozen years when he flirted with getting in the race for governor or senator, but never actually did so.

My favorite Otten quote comes from the a 1996 Lewiston Sun Journal story, before the ASC disaster. "Because I've been successful in business," he said, "does not necessarily mean I'll be successful in politics."

Dawn Hill is serving her second term as a Democratic state representative from York. Hill used to be a lawyer, but now she sits on the board of an insurance company and runs a dog-boarding facility. Her Web site hasn't been updated since sometime in 2008, so if she's done anything useful during her brief tenure in politics, it hasn't come to my attention.

Hill cleverly decided to announce her run for governor of Maine in the Portsmouth Herald, in case anybody in New Hampshire wanted to move here to vote for her. She told the paper she's "a mover and a shaker, a fiscal moderate and a social progressive."

Here's a quote from one of her enthusiastic staffers: "This is not some crazy, loony, rock-'n'-roll, you're-gonna-be-governor thing. This is a legitimate candidate."

Eliot Cutler has an impressive background. The Bangor native (he now lists his legal residence as Cape Elizabeth) got his career started around a thousand years ago as an aide to the late Senator Ed Muskie. He held important positions in the Carter administration. He became a lobbyist and then one of the top American lawyers based in China. He's worked on four presidential campaigns and been a reliable contributor to liberal Democrats at the state and national levels.

And he's running for governor as an independent. Go figure.

A Google search of his writings indicates he knows a lot about Chinese politics, but when it comes to Maine, nothing shows up, perhaps because he isn't here much. He did tell the Portland Press Herald this about the state's economy: "We are eating our seed corn." The Green Party used a similar slogan in a US Senate race a few years ago. Nobody knew what it meant then, either.

If Cutler ever gets to Augusta, he's going to experience severe culture shock.

Rosa Scarcelli is the president of Stanford Management, which builds housing for poor people — sorry, the politically correct term is housing for affordable people — in Maine and other states. She comes from a political family in Franklin County, interned for Senator George Mitchell, raised money last year for Barack Obama, and seems to think that qualifies her to be governor.

Scarcelli doesn't appear to have granted many interviews or made many speeches, but she's hired public-relations guru Dennis Bailey to advise her (based on his astute guidance of such gubernatorial success stories as Daniel Wathen and David Flanagan).

Reaction to her possible bid for the Democratic nomination "has been very positive," said Bailey. "Everybody's ready for something different."

Everybody should keep in mind that different doesn't necessarily mean better.

You're different. Maybe you should run. If so, e-mail me at

  Topics: Talking Politics , Barack Obama, U.S. Government, U.S. State Government,  More more >
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