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Politics + Other Mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  September 12, 2012

According to TV spots and press releases from his opponents, independent US Senate candidate Angus King is a slick-talking, budget-busting, money-grubbing, back-room-dealing, environment-despoiling, anti-working-class, elitist scumsucker.

Which is pretty much the job description for a US senator.

There's plenty of evidence to support those claims. What there isn't is much in the way of rebuttals from the King campaign.

I saw a brief pop-up ad on a news site that featured King, hampered by either an out-of-sync soundtrack or too many martinis, promising something about continuing the conversation.

What conversation? I sometimes talk to myself when I'm drinking, but I know better than to post it on YouTube.

I've seen op-ed columns in which King supporters make vague claims about how, when he was governor, he helped people get off welfare and become lawyers, how he created thousand of jobs, how he advanced women's rights, how he supported high-tech businesses, how he got Maine more fiber optics and more fiber in breakfast cereals.

A few politicians have also penned pieces claiming that during his final year in the Blaine House, King didn't really run up a billion-dollar deficit. Technically, that's correct. Maine's constitution requires a balanced budget. What King did was support so much new spending that it resulted in a gap of almost $1 billion between what it would cost to keep paying for all that stuff and the amount the state was likely to collect in taxes.

That's not exactly a deficit. It's more of an impending shortfall. It might be called a lurking financial disaster. Or it could be termed an irresponsible spending spree. But not a deficit.

Because for King to have been guilty of creating a deficit, it would have had to happen on his watch. But by the time the bills came due, he wasn't governor anymore. He was traveling the country in his ritzy new RV. (Did you say there's a deficit back in Maine? I can't hear you too well because of the echo from the Grand Canyon and the splashing of Niagara Falls.)

I'm probably not doing much to salvage King's reputation. But that's not my job. In most Senate races, the candidates take care of that task themselves.

For instance, Democrat Cynthia Dill recently published a commentary in which she argued that she was not an insignificant afterthought, unworthy of the support of members of her party. "It's time to man up, Maine Democrats," she wrote, effectively handing the feminist vote to King.

Republican Charlie Summers addressed criticism that he wasted money when he created a small-business advocate position in the secretary of state's office. "I believe firmly that we need to get government out of the way so we can let our small businesses grow this economy again," he wrote in explaining why he'd lobbied the Legislature to add another bureaucrat.

Independent Steve Woods didn't keep quiet when the Falmouth Town Council reprimanded him for violating zoning rules concerning the height of stone walls and the size of lettering on signs at his marketing company. Instead, Woods asked Summers if his small-biz advocate could come down to Falmouth and punch out those mouthy councilors.

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