Three candidates you haven't heard a lot about from the mainstream media are, nevertheless, running for US Senate. Danny Dalton, Andrew Ian Dodge, and Steve Woods are perhaps like the much-maligned but ultimately more heroic Greasers gang in the classic SE Hinton novel The Outsiders. They're not polished, refined campaigners or politicians — and they definitely lack the slicker appeal of the more popular and seemingly successful crew that Hinton called the Socials. But each of these underdogs has noteworthy credentials, experience, and ideas. In fact, if you think standard politicos are part of the problems in Washington, you might consider taking these men more seriously than the Big Three. They're certainly more likely to "stay gold," maintaining their philosophies and political stances upon arriving at the Senate.


In the sprawling Falmouth building that houses his privately owned mini-conglomerate, Woods laughs at the irony of being a marketing executive running on what he calls an "anonymity platform." Then he rails against mainstream media — specifically the Portland Press Herald — for failing to cover his campaign adequately. He has a point: While the press talk with King, Summers, and Dill about health-care issues, one of Woods's firms is actively engaged with big players in the health industry, giving him broad perspective. (He supports the Affordable Care Act, not as a finish line, but as a starting point.)

But rather than elaborate, he moves on, observing that when the press talk with the Big Three about energy and environmental issues, perhaps they might want to talk to a guy who has a solar-powered office campus (complete with electric-car charging station), a rainwater-reclaiming roof, and a green-living marketing firm, Viridescence. He might have something to say on those topics, too.

If only he weren't so upset that when talk turns to jobs, nobody calls him — "I've created 100 jobs here" and invested millions in Maine as part owner of the Maine Red Claws, and as a partner in the Thompson's Point redevelopment project, he says. He complains that high taxes and onerous government regulations have made running small businesses harder than ever.

Which reminds him that democracy is on the wane ("woe is the republic" is a frequent refrain), and that civic involvement is dropping, and that elected officials are incompetent and —

Well, that's the real problem. Listening to Steve Woods talk is like drinking from a firehose. There's delicious, refreshing substance that can bring great relief and growth, but There's. Just. So. Much. Of. It.

Perhaps it's the relentless drive — and let's say it, passion — that has landed him at what he terms the "kids' table" of this US Senate race. It could be his own admission that "I probably entered the process a little naively," expecting a more level media playing field. Maybe it's his idealism about American civic obligation.

"Public service is a privilege," Woods says. He's serious when he says he won't accept the $174,000 salary a senator receives, and will seek to have it sent directly from the US Treasury to several Maine-based charities.

It's a way to achieve his goal — which is not to change history (he thinks none of the candidates will), but to "change the dialogue, and . . . to change democracy in America," bringing civic engagement back from the cliff of cynicism.

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