Peter P. Misluk Jr. of Searsmont has a dark secret.
Owns the “Dukes of Hazzard” movie and watches it several times a week?
No, the skeleton in Misluk’s closet is ... he’s a Democrat.
I’m not sure why Misluk wants to keep that information from the public, but it isn’t included in a February 14 story on the villagesoup.com Web site announcing his candidacy for the Maine House of Representatives. Nor is there any mention of who the current occupant of the seat he’s seeking is, nor of any possible opponents Misluk might face, nor of his unsuccessful run for the state senate in 2004. Instead, there are long blathering quotes in which the candidate assures us he’s in favor of lower property taxes (who isn’t?), affordable health care (yeah, lotta opposition to that) and increasing the number of high-paying jobs (talk about controversial stands!). There’s nothing concerning his positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, gambling, Dirigo Health, the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or Democratic governor John Baldacci’s budget policies, any of which might help voters figure out whether this guy is a top dog or a Boss Hogg.
I don’t mean to single out villagesoup.com for running this drivel. Nearly every media outlet in Maine that carries announcements of legislative candidacies is guilty of treating them more like notices for bean suppers than actual news stories. They print whatever the candidates submit without asking questions that might help their readers figure out whom to vote for.
The Lewiston Sun Journal of February 16 turned over several column inches to state senator John Nutting of Leeds to tout his achievements. No mention of what party he’s enrolled in, any possible opposition, or his positions on major issues the next Legislature will face.
The Morning Sentinel in Waterville manages to include candidates’ party affiliations, but often forgets to tell readers what towns they’re seeking to represent. That space is instead devoted to quotes such as “Maine has a number of big-ticket economic issues that have to be addressed” (Ted Susi, February 21) and “With hard work and determination, real change is possible and I want to be part of that change” (Joshua Reny, February 10).
According to the Republican Journal of February 9, candidate Jayne Crosby Giles is a member of the Belfast Rotary Club, the recipient of a federal small-business award and an active volunteer. Is she a Republican, a Democrat, a Green, or a member of the Flaming Wazoo Party? The story doesn’t say.
Most newspapers and Web sites are short-staffed, but it would only take a few minutes to inject some useful information in these puff pieces. Which is allegedly why they’re in the news business. When an info-deficient press release shows up, a cub reporter could be assigned to call the candidate and ask for his or her stands on a few key issues, including at least a couple of hot-button controversies. Add the names and party affiliations of any other contenders in the race or those rumored to be considering a run. Maybe even get a quote from them, too.