Let's test your knowledge of useless information.
Can you name the only two people in modern times who've run for all the major offices in Maine — US representative, US senator, and governor — unsuccessfully?
I'm not talking about fringe candidates with write-in campaigns. I mean folks who qualified for the ballot, but couldn't convince anybody they were qualified to hold high public positions.
Lots of pols have come close:
Democrat JOE BRENNAN lost bids for both governor (twice) and senator, but failed to make our list because he won all his races for Congress.
Likewise, Democrat TOM ALLEN got nowhere trying to become a governor or senator, but easily won the 1st District congressional seat.
Republican JIM LONGLEY JR. won one and lost one in his brief career in the House. He failed to follow in his father's footsteps in his gubernatorial bid. But he missed the trifecta because he never ran for the Senate.
Democrat PAT MCGOWAN got skunked in two tries for Congress and one for governor. Green Jonathan Carter lost a pair of gubernatorial races and one for the US House. Democrat Jean Hay Bright went dim in her congressional and senatorial tries. The GOP's Rick Bennett failed to win races for both chambers of Congress. And Republican Bob Monks has lost enough times to rate an honorable mention, even though they were all bids for the US Senate.
But since 1962, when Maine was downsized to two congressional districts, my research (which is open to expansion and correction) indicates only two politicians have displayed the outsized incompetence necessary to lose races for all the top spots. They are:
1) Democrat ELIZABETH MITCHELL, who lost a 1984 US Senate contest, a 1990 try for the 1st Congressional District and a 2010 fizzle for governor.
2) PLATO TRUMAN, who, starting in 1970, ran at various times for all three offices as a Democrat, Republican and independent — sometimes as a liberal and others as a conservative — often using the slogan, "Two Great Names, One Great Man."
Now, there's a third contender for this . . . well, "elite group" can't be the right phrase for failures of this magnitude. How about the Rejection Seat? The Unfriend Hall of Fame? Society of the Severely Skunked? The Houston Astros?
Whatever they're called, by the end of 2014, they may have to welcome a new member. Because BRUCE POLIQUIN is planning to run for Congress.
I know, that's not what I wrote last week. In that column, I said Poliquin, the former state treasurer, unsuccessful candidate for governor (2010), and US Senate loser (2012) was gearing up for another try at the Senate. His plan was to challenge GOP Senator Susan Collins in the primary, presenting himself as the conservative alternative to the sometimes-moderate incumbent. I based that assessment on conversations with a half-dozen people who'd discussed such a campaign with Poliquin or his close advisers.
Then, Democratic US Representative Mike Michaud of the state's 2nd District began making behind-the-scenes moves, indicating he's serious about running for governor next year. That would mean there'd be an open congressional seat just waiting for the right candidate to come along and snatch it up.