Scars and souvenirs

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  November 5, 2008

The campaign is over. Now for the fun stuff.

No, not the results. The results are boring.

(Unless they aren't. I'm writing this before any votes have been counted, so if John Frary happens to be a congressman-elect or Tom Allen is preparing to enter the US Senate or Republicans are about to assume control of the Legislature, I deny I ever said anything about boring results. And next week, I'll use this space to reveal the insights that allowed me to anticipate such unexpected outcomes before anyone else.)

What I meant is it's time for the Gaggie Awards. These coveted trophies honor those who have campaigned in the grand tradition of the Gaggies' namesake: Hayes Gahagan.

In 1978, Gahagan, an independent US Senate candidate with ties to a religious cult, announced that persons unknown had altered his campaign photos by inserting subliminal pictures of reproductive organs in his hairline.

It was a moment like no other in Maine political history, and to preserve its memory, we recognize politicians with similar styles for their, uh, endowments.

The envelope, please.

The winner of the Hasn't-Learned-A-Thing-In-30-Years Award goes to ... Hayes Gahagan.

I thought he was dead, which was why he hadn't sued me.

Actually, Gahagan lives in Presque Isle (slightly different from dead) and serves on the Republican State Committee (insert dead joke here). In September, he authored an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News, urging Americans to keep pace with our profligate foes by having more babies.

"Otherwise," he wrote, "we could someday find ourselves living under a tyrannical totalitarian Islamo-fascist theocracy where they stone people for having sex out of marriage instead of praying for them, forgiving them and restoring them to correct moral behavior."

You can understand why sex would be on the mind of a guy with his particular hairline problem.

The Numbers-Are-Not-My-Strong-Suit Award goes to outgoing Democratic Speaker of the House Glenn Cummings of Portland for his September letter to the Portland Press Herald, in which he said, "It has been an honor to serve the people of House District 119 for the last eight years."

Cummings's district is 115.

As you fade into obscurity, Mr. Speaker, remember to proofread your staff's work before you sign it.

It wouldn't be a Gaggie ceremony without an award for soon-to-be-ex-state Senator Ethan Strimling of Portland. Shortly after his landslide loss in the Democratic congressional primary in June, Strimling announced he was focusing on A Rising Tide, an organization that trains young would-be pols in organizing grassroots campaigns.

Strimling's plaque bears the inscription: "Just because I couldn't do it, doesn't mean I can't teach it."

Independent state Senate candidate Dana Kadey of Princeton wins the It's-A-Good-Thing-I-Glow-In-The-Dark-Because-Otherwise-I'd-Be-Pretty-Dim Award for his newspaper ad calling for the construction of 10 nuclear power plants and a permanent waste-storage facility in his district. "Even if a nuclear plant blew up in Washington County," he wrote, "it would only kill two coyotes and five skunks!"

The Don't-Complain-To-Me-If-Things-Don't-Work-Out Award is presented to Democratic state Representative John Patrick of Rumford for his pro-casino TV spot with another legislator, in which he says, "We sit on the committee that oversees Maine gambling laws ... We pledge when Question 2 passes, the committee will change it to meet existing Maine laws."

Patrick is term-limited. He won't be in the next Legislature.

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