All the right wrongs

The 2009 Gaggie Awards for Political Cluelessness
By AL DIAMON  |  November 4, 2009

With the end of another campaign season, it’s time to recognize those who may not have been successful in influencing voters, but were clear winners in eliciting derisive snorts.

In this nostril-honking pursuit, our honorees were following in the footsteps of Hayes Gahagan, whose 1978 US Senate campaign disintegrated after he announced that an unknown entity had attempted to exercise subliminal mind control over voters by altering Gahagan’s campaign photos to insert hidden images of female genitalia in his hairline. He distributed enlargements.

Looked like dandruff to me.

Today, Gahagan is a member of the Republican State Committee, which could be the subliminal reason hardly anybody in the state votes Republican.

Nevertheless, he remains the inspiration behind the Gaggie Awards for Political Cluelessness. Winners receive a Gahagan replica wig. Genitalia optional.

Considering GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Poliquin’s sizable bald spot, he should be able to put his Gaggie to good use. Poliquin qualified for this toupee thanks to a brochure he put out claiming there were “6,800,000,000 reasons” to vote for the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. Why 6.8 billion? Poliquin’s handout states, “That’s what Maine government spends in a year.”

His accounting methods appear to be suffering from brain freeze due to thinning hair. The current state budget is about $5.8 billion — for two years. (That figure doesn’t include some federal money, but those dollars aren’t subject to TABOR, anyway.) Spending will likely be further reduced next year, because Democratic Governor John Baldacci’s administration has overestimated revenues by at least $200 million.

For his puffery, Poliquin receives the Even-Further-Off-In-His-Budget-Projections-Than-Baldacci Award.

Candidates often have a lot on their minds and can’t pay attention to every little detail about running for office. Take, for example, Martha Henderson, who was seeking a Westbrook school board seat as a Democrat. According to the American Journal, Henderson’s candidacy was derailed after city officials determined she was actually a Republican.

To Henderson, we present the Hayes-Gahagan-Will-Be-Conducting-Your-GOP-Orientation trophy.

On October 26, Gerald Weinand, editor of the Dirigo Blue blog posted this comment on the tactics of same-sex-marriage opponents: “Like a receding tide (and utterly as predictable), the advertisements and claims made by Stand for Marriage Maine . . . have become ever more outrageous as Election Day draws closer.”

The outrageousness of a receding tide is nothing compared to that of a receding hairline infested with subliminal images.

I’ll now pin the Lunar-Gravity-Is-Influencing-My-Brain medal on Weinand’s flotation device.

A surge of water also seems to have left independent gubernatorial candidate Samme Bailey all wet. Bailey was explaining his familiarity with the northern part of the state to the Web site As Maine Goes, when he announced, “I arrived on the shores of Limestone, Maine, some 40-odd years ago.”

Landlocked Limestone has shores? Who knew?

Bailey is the belated recipient of the I-Survived-The-Great-Limestone-Stream-Flood-Of-1969-Or-Thereabouts plaque.

In Windham, Town Council candidate Peter Busque sent out an e-mail in September listing local businesses that were supporting him. His opponent, Councilor Liz Wisecup, had doubts about those endorsements and, according to the Lakes Region Weekly, called some owners of those companies, several of whom denied backing Busque. That prompted Busque to accuse Wisecup of criminal activity. He told the paper, “As a town official, [Wisecup] isn’t supposed to use her power to persuade or affect the vote in an election.”

Busque is this season’s winner of the You-Do-Understand-That-The-Whole-Purpose-Of-Campaigning-Is-To-Affect-The-Vote prize.

Remember Seth Carey, the Rumford lawyer behind the failed 2008 effort to build a casino in Oxford County? Carey single-handedly sabotaged his own proposal by including ridiculous items in the proposed law (membership for himself on the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, for instance) and then being cited for unethical and inept conduct as an attorney. But his spirit lives on in the latest attempt to legalize gambling in western Maine.

Black Bear Entertainment, the new and allegedly more politically adept force behind the casino plan, sent out a press release on October 16 complaining about Dennis Bailey, the spokesman for CasinosNO. According to the release, Bailey (who wasn’t mentioned by name) posted a blog entry charging casino supporters with “pimping” for the gambling industry. I wouldn’t have noticed that comment if Black Bear hadn’t called it to my attention. Once it did, I read all Bailey had to say.

That earned the would-be high rollers the Seth Carey Memorial Sometimes-It-Makes-Sense-To-Just-Shut-Up Citation.

Didn’t win? Congratulations. You must be doing something right.

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