King of the freaks

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  November 8, 2006

“If you want to afflict the world with the contents of an empty skull, common courtesy requires that you at least try to do it with a little polish.”
_Russell Baker

I’d like to honor the best of the recently deceased political campaigns. Unfortunately, “best” turned out to be in short supply this year, but there was a surplus of worst. And I have just the prize for that.

Welcome to the Gaggie Awards, in recognition of those who, in the pursuit of elective offices for which they were manifestly unqualified or in their inept coverage thereof, have achieved the heights of creative incompetence.

The Gaggies are named after Hayes Gahagan, an independent candidate for the US Senate in 1978, remembered fondly for announcing that enemies unknown had altered his campaign photos by inserting subliminal images of genitalia in, among other places, the part in his hair. In spite of some careful checking, no independent observer was ever able to develop any prurient interest in Gahagan’s hairline.

Nevertheless, without the standard he set, I doubt we’d have had former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Connolly getting arrested on Halloween for dressing up as Osama bin Laden, complete with toy assault rifle and fake grenades, to protest the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.

That’s a legacy worth honoring. The envelope, please.

The I-Think-The-Office-You-Want-Is-Down-The-Hall-And-To-The-Left Award goes to Eric DesMarais, an independent candidate for the state Senate from Bangor. Asked by the Bangor Daily News for his top priority if elected, DesMarais said it would be the “immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.” After he’d used his lofty position as a freshman in the Maine Senate to accomplish that, he also intended to end the “two-party corporate monopoly” and bring about a “democratic redistribution of wealth.”

The Apparently-You’ve-Never-Met-The-Guy Award goes to Inc. magazine for being the first publication ever to describe Democratic Governor John Baldacci as a “Policy wonk.” The magazine did come closer to the truth in saying Baldacci’s accomplishments had been “mitigated by mistakes, failures or oversights.”

The Reaching-The-Fringe-Voters Award goes to Portland City Council candidate Kevin Donoghue for the large campaign sign displayed on Main Street in Farmington, a town approximately 90 miles from the district Donoghue sought to represent.

The Speaking-Up-For-The-Fringe-Voters Award goes to Don Tuttle of Augusta, who seemed less than enthralled with mayoral candidate Roger Katz’s professionally produced poster near the Civic Center, which claimed Katz would be “A Mayor For All of Us.” Tuttle’s small homemade sign next to it said, “Except Me!”

The Are-You-Only Insecure-About-Your-Looks-Or-Is-It-Your-Sexuality-Too Award goes to Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz for his October 25 piece complaining about a re-election ad Portland School Committee member Stephen Spring ran in a gay newspaper, in which Spring described himself as “Gay, Green and Gorgeous.” After disputing Spring’s claim that he was, in fact, gorgeous, Nemitz implied homosexual candidates should return to the closet, because, “It also remains to be seen what kind of homophobic hay the Christian Civic League of Maine might make out of the gay school committee member who uses sexual innuendo as a campaign strategy.” As if anyone would care.

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