The first rule for running a successful race for governor is never to say anything of substance about anything. Taking even the most innocuous of positions (Do you think Maine should have an official state skin disease?) will only cost a candidate votes.
Being decisive gets a politician labeled as a fanatic ("I was brought up to believe this honor belongs to acne, and as governor, I will never compromise on that").
Being definitive often forces a potential officeholder to backtrack later on ("My alleged endorsement of ringworm was taken out of context by those seeking to divert attention from the real issues in this campaign").
But being wishy-washy can sometimes earn a pol four years of free room and board in the Blaine House ("I have heard the arguments for scabies. I have heard the arguments for mange. I am meeting next week with the supporters of psoriasis. I think they all have an itch to contribute to the discussion").
Most of the contenders for governor in 2010 have learned this lesson. They've become adept at taking what look like actual stands on all kinds of issues without ever delving more than skin-deep.
Here's what Democratic frontrunner and former Attorney General Steven Rowe told the Capitol News Service about his plan for the economy: "We have to make the investments in our future. We have to invest in our people, in our children, and that is what I want to do."
This puts Rowe firmly on record as ... um ... well, it looks like ... I dunno, something.
On the matter of skin diseases, Rowe is thought to be leaning toward poison ivy, but has not yet officially decided and is unlikely to do so until he's had more time to study the arguments of all sides.
On his Web site, Republican hopeful Matt Jacobson had this to say about his proposed environmental policies: "Maine's environment is one of our greatest economic resources. In many parts of our state, natural resources remain the best opportunity for good jobs and a better future. For me, that means environmental protection goes hand in hand with a strong economy."
We're probably safe in assuming that Jacobson is opposed to turning Moosehead Lake into a hazardous-waste disposal site and would resist efforts to level Mount Katahdin to make room for a trailer park. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.
As for his pick for an official skin disease, Jacobson is rumored to have already accepted large campaign contributions from political-action committees fronting for both sunburn and black-fly bites.
GOP hopeful Bruce Poliquin told the Times Record he has "a passion for this state," which has "a special quality of life." He went on to say, "We know what the issues are, and we know what the solutions are — or we can figure them out."
We can? Then why haven't we?
Poliquin is so excited about running for governor he gets goose bumps, but that's not technically a disease, so instead, he might endorse hives.
Green Independent Party candidate Lynne Williams is more pointed than the mainstream contenders in her criticism of state government, but she still lapsed into pol-speak when asked by the Bar Harbor Times about economic development. "We need to look at the skills of the workers in our state," she said, "and think about how we can turn 20th century skills into 21st century jobs."