Your credibility's shot

Dennis Bailey's political advice falls flat
By AL DIAMON  |  May 4, 2011

He used his ability to appeal to a significant minority of the electorate to propel himself and his pals into the governor's office. He appeared poised to become a major power broker in the state for years to come. But then, he said some things that were both stupid and false. Even people who agreed with him on the issues began to question his reliability.

And just like that, he was political toast.

Republican Governor Paul LePage?

Well, yeah, but I'm talking about Dennis Bailey.

Bailey, the Portland public-relations guru, guided independent Angus King to the governorship in 1994. He hasn't picked a significant winner since then, but managed several anti-gambling campaigns, winning consistently, until last year when he seemed to lose his mojo. For years, movers and shakers sought his advice, including MaineToday Media CEO Richard Connor, the owners of the Scotia Prince ferry, the developers of an LNG terminal in Quoddy Bay, the Finance Authority of Maine, and former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli. The clunkhead who writes this column once called Bailey "the state's best political operative."

But then, that same dope thought Ethan Strimling was going to be a congressman and Jim Longley Jr. wasn't. (Hey, there was a recession. Both credit and credibility were in short supply.)

Back to Bailey. Last year, as he was directing Scarcelli to a third-place finish in the Democratic primary and helping independent Shawn Moody end up next to last in the general election for governor, he was also busy working anonymously on a website called "The Secret File on Eliot Cutler." When Cutler, also an independent candidate for governor, complained to the state ethics commission about the mud-slinging material the site contained, Bailey's name came up as a possible author.

He denied it, both to the commission staff and to the media. "I know stuff about it," he told the Bangor Daily News, "but I'm not responsible for the content."

That was sorta, kinda, almost-but-not-quite true. Thomas Rhoads, Scarcelli's husband, wrote the material. All Bailey did was help him out by setting up and maintaining the site. He later said he hadn't been completely forthcoming because he didn't want the Moody campaign, which he was still advising ("Act more like Angus King and less like Rosa Scarcelli"), dragged into the mess he had created.

Eventually, Bailey 'fessed up, Rhoads was exposed, Scarcelli denied knowing anything about what her husband and ex-political aide were up to, and Moody lost. The world returned to normal, except Bailey is still suing the ethics commission for fining him two hundred bucks for failing to disclose his identity and connection to the Moody campaign.

And there was one other small consequence. Some people who until then had been relying on Bailey for political advice began to edge ever so casually toward the door. In particular, the anti-gambling crowd, which had blindly followed his lead since he beat back an attempt to turn Scarborough Downs into a racino a decade ago, appeared disillusioned with him. Whether it was his entanglement with the Cutler smear or his inability to beat the Oxford casino, his former allies were looking to distance themselves from Bailey.

In April, a new anti-gambling group surfaced called Mainers Against A Rotten Deal. Its initial press release didn't mention Bailey or his group CasinosNO! by name, but left little doubt who they were aiming to replace.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Politics, Gambling, casinos,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY AL DIAMON
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   A LITTLE NIP  |  July 23, 2014
    You might not realize it, but while it’s legal to carry a gun in Maine (either openly or, with a permit, concealed), putting a flask containing an alcoholic beverage in your hip pocket is against the law.
  •   THIS IS AN OUTRAGE  |  July 16, 2014
    Politics and other mistakes
  •   BETWEEN THE DYING AND THE DEAD  |  July 11, 2014
    Being politically deceased, you’d think Steve Woods would give us a break by putting on a dark suit, lying down in a coffin, and closing his eyes.
  •   ALL THE WRONG CHOICES  |  July 07, 2014
    Reform is in the air. Olympia Snowe and the Portland Press Herald are calling for changes in the way we elect our leaders in order to restore public confidence, end gridlock, and reverse global warming. There’s a much better chance they’ll accomplish that last one than either of the other two.  
  •   INSIDE GAME  |  June 25, 2014
    The university system’s decision to add Demeritt to its roster at a salary of $125,000 a year generated criticism because it was done by ignoring normal hiring procedures and came at a time when the system is facing budget shortfalls, program cuts, and layoffs. Demeritt is going to have to hit a lot of three-pointers to make up for all that negative reaction.

 See all articles by: AL DIAMON