By my count, there are approximately 14,308 people running for governor of Maine.
Fortunately, you can ignore the vast majority of these escapees from a Quentin Tarantino movie, because they have no chance of being elected, and even if they did, they'd blow it by endorsing Iran's efforts to make nuclear bombs or by changing their name to Bernie Madoff Jr. or by announcing they can't stand the taste of lobsters, potatoes, or blueberries. A couple of them are probably Yankees fans, too.
That doesn't mean that some of these pre-approved also-rans aren't entertaining. Take, for example, Beverly Cooper-Pete of Portland, an independent candidate who wisely decided not to return my phone call seeking information about whatever traumatic event in her childhood had motivated her to declare her candidacy. Cooper-Pete seems to work for a telemarketing company called "Internet Riches Made Easy." A Web search turned up somebody with her name as the author of a book titled Tootie Fruity Bear's Sing-A-Long Tune.
No snarky comment required.
Then there's independent Samme Bailey of Gorham, who alerted me in a recent e-mail to his plan to capture the Blaine House by staging a series of "coup d'etats." While I have no objection to somebody overthrowing the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Turnpike Authority, or the Carrabassett Valley Board of Selectmen (please, please, please, can I operate the guillotine), my patriotic duty required me to forward Bailey's e-mail to the federal Department of Homeland Security.
I think you can still send campaign contributions to him care of Guantanamo.
I could fill this entire column with wordplay at the expense of gubernatorial non-starters like Democrats Dawn (of the Dead) Hill, Peter (I promise not to forge signatures this time) Truman or Eriq (don't call me Charles) Manson. But it's probably a better use of the space to ridicule people with some chance of collecting a statistically significant number of votes next November.
Among independents, that's a short list, consisting in its entirety of Eliot Cutler of Cape Elizabeth ? a lawyer, retired diplomat, and former Carter administration official ? who's attracted several political heavyweights to his campaign. Cutler was a Democrat until about 20 minutes ago, and his presence on the ballot will complicate matters for the official Dem nominee, who'll have to compete with him for some of the same voters. But it remains to be seen how well he reconnects with his homies, since he's spent less time in Maine in the last two decades than the average Old Orchard Beach tourist.
Speaking of Democrats, there's no shortage of contenders. Although there does seem to be a shortage of contenders anybody's excited about.
Former attorney general Steven Rowe of Portland appeals to the sort of moderate, suburban, southern Mainers who prefer their elected officials on the dull side. Rowe has been running for governor for at least a decade, so he's had plenty of time to boil down his answers to tough questions to the point where they contain absolutely nothing of interest. I suppose that's why some people consider him the frontrunner.
State Senate President Libby Mitchell of Vassalboro is articulate, experienced, and has proved herself ? in two previous runs for major office ? to be utterly unelectable outside her legislative district. Still, she might have a shot at the nomination if she were the only woman in the race. But she isn't, so she doesn't.