Defined by struggle

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  February 13, 2008

Football is over. Baseball hasn’t started. For the next two months, our entertainment options are limited to reality shows, hockey, or politics.

No matter which bloody competition you choose, remember: Reality-show participants, hockey players, and politicians are not subject to the rules governing normal human interaction. If you behave as they do, you’ll face serious consequences. For would-be hockey players, that’s prison. For wanna-be TV stars, drug rehab. For attempting to impersonate a politician, you’ll be stripped of your dignity and forced to undergo intrusive evaluations by journalists.

I’ll demonstrate that last punishment on eight volunteers, who have consented to this procedure (latex gloves, please; lengthy prong, please) by running for Congress in Maine’s 1st District. The exact language was in the fine print, right below the stuff about ethics and honesty that they also didn’t read.

First, the Democrats.

Ethan Strimling serves in the state Senate, where he’s enhanced his reputation for excessive ambition. He hasn’t raised the most cash, but if his plan for a grassroots campaign patterned on former US representative Tom Andrews’s successful below-the-radar race in 1990 works out, he won’t need that much. The chances he’s relocating to Washington in 2009: 3 to 1.

Everybody but me thinks former state Senator Chellie Pingree is the front-runner, because she’s raised lots of dough and ran a stunningly unsuccessful campaign for the US Senate in 2002. She took in a lot of money that time, too. Could be a pattern. Currently, she seems to be paying too much attention to the general election instead of the primary. Odds she’ll be the next US rep: 4 to 1.

Mark Lawrence knows what it’s like to run a lackluster campaign for major office (US Senate, 2000). Trouble is, he kinda likes lackluster. The former state Senate president and current York County district attorney has raised enough cash to be competitive. Now, if he could just raise enough interest. Until then, he’s at 6 to 1.

Adam Cote would make a great elected official. Like a city councilor. But he’s aiming too high in his initial political bid. His plan to win the primary by having the other candidates split the liberal vote, leaving him the moderates, might work if Democratic moderates hadn’t been hunted to extinction. An 8-to-1 shot.

Michael Brennan wasn’t much of campaigner when he served in the state Legislature. Or much of a fundraiser. He still isn’t. It also doesn’t help that his positions on issues don’t distinguish him from the rest of the field. He’s pretty much for what they’re for and against what they’re against. So, he’s running against the odds at 12 to 1.

Steve Meister began his campaign by insisting on being addressed as “Doctor Meister.” He’s been a Democrat for about half as long as it takes to have a baby. He hasn’t raised much money. But, hey, his opponents could all be killed in a roof cave-in. If that happens: 25 to 1. If not: 100 to 1.

Now, the Republicans.

Dean Scontras is spending campaign money like a congressman in a pork-barrel frenzy. All that cash has transformed him from complete unknown to partial unknown. And GOP frontrunner. If he can keep raking in the dough (no sure thing), he’s a 4-to-1 primary favorite. But being endorsed by the Christian Civic League won’t help with a more liberal electorate in November. The likelihood of a Capitol Hill office in his future: 15 to 1.

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