Sins and promises

Keeping tabs on the tweets of gubernatorial twits
By AL DIAMON  |  September 9, 2009

Let's suppose you wanted Maine's next governor to be somebody who'd create jobs.

There's no app for that.

How about a governor who'd somehow manage to stimulate the economy?

Sorry, no app for that, either.

A gubernatorial candidate who'd deliver a sensible tax policy? Streamlined services? A decent speech?

All those apps are either stuck in the development process or incompatible with your operating system. To address these problems, please contact customer service.

Except, there's no app for that.

This is surprising, because the 2010 election is supposed to be the one in which the new media finally replace tired old clowns like me with social networks that allow immediate, unfiltered contact between politicians and voters. Setting aside the fact that large numbers of voters would pay good money for an app that prevented any candidate contact whatsoever (suggested name: iCondom), the idea that anybody is going to Twitter his or her way to the Blaine House is still a couple of megabytes shy of a hard drive.

For evidence of that, check out the Web site Augusta Insider (www.augustainsider.us), which has taken on the unenviable task of monitoring the tweets of the gubernatorial twits. Its survey in late August showed Republican Matt Jacobson had the most followers, not a big surprise since Jacobson is considered a serious contender for the GOP nomination. But the gubernatorial hopeful with the second largest following was oddball independent Alex Hammer, who demonstrated in his 2006 run for the same office that he has an excellent chance of failing to qualify for the ballot. Hammer has since been kicked off Twitter for spamming and general weirdness.

The best-known and best-financed candidates have either a modest Twitter presence (Republicans Les Otten and Bruce Poliquin; Democrats Steve Rowe, Rosa Scarcelli, and Libby Mitchell) or none at all (the GOP's Peter Mills and independent Eliot Cutler).

It would appear the winner of this race will be determined less by messages sent to BlackBerries, than by these pols' propensities for comparing apples and oranges and coming up with prune juice.

In short, the next governor will be chosen by the old-fashioned method: lying.

At last, something there's an app for.

And most of these office-seekers know how to operate it.

Cutler, for example, isn't one for small-time fibbing. He formulates his gubernatorial campaign promises so they'll be useful if he ever decides to run for higher office, like deity.

"I think we need to control and shape Maine's destiny," he told the Portland Press Herald, "rebuild our foundations, preserve what makes Maine such a great place to live, and invest in a future of opportunity for all Maine people."

Campaign aides were able to muzzle him before he pledged to turn water into wine and state Representative John Martin into a pillar of salt.

Mitchell also sets goals that would give pause to the inhabitants of Olympus, Asgard, or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Maine will lead in getting health costs under control, while providing access to all," the state Senate president said in a press release. "Maine will lead in reinventing its farming and fishing and wood products industries to compete in the world economy."

She didn't say it, but it seems obvious Maine will also lead in fairy godmothers and genies in bottles.

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  Topics: Talking Politics , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, Augusta Insider,  More more >
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