These days, Mendros is the consummate insider, but that's not how he got his start in politics. In 1998, he used his rebellious image (long hair, casual clothes, major attitude) to win a seat in the state Legislature in staunchly Democratic Lewiston, only the second Republican to do so in nearly a century. In those days, he was against the sort of PAC he operates today, refusing to accept that sleazy money. He also presented himself as an opponent of Portland's interests, which he considered contrary to those of his hometown.
Even though he had little success in Augusta — the Lewiston Sun Journal wrote he "attracts as much ridicule as respect" and he had "alienated fellow Republicans by reportedly putting headline grabbing above quiet diplomacy" — he announced in 2001 that he was running for Congress in Maine's 2nd District. He finished third out of four in the 2002 GOP primary with barely 20 percent of the vote.
No problem. He won a seat on the Lewiston City Council, instead. And he helped Ralph Nader of the Green Party get his name on the 2004 Maine presidential ballot. In 2005, he tried unsuccessfully to launch a People's Veto campaign to repeal the state budget. Then, he formed his consulting company to cash in on referendum campaigns. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to three counts of improperly notarizing documents involving efforts to allow a racino in Washington County.
Now, he's trying to pad his retirement account with a new gambling enterprise.
In recent years, Mendros has kept a lower profile. Based on the editorial rejections, it may not have been low enough.
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