Between the dying and the dead

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  July 11, 2014

Being politically deceased, you’d think Steve Woods would give us a break by putting on a dark suit, lying down in a coffin, and closing his eyes. Then we could get on with his eulogy (Dear friends, during his time on the campaign trail, there may have been a few people he didn’t annoy, but I’m sure that was just an oversight).

Instead, Woods insists on acting as if he’s still got some life in him, proposing absurd public policies and levying wild charges against the state Democratic Party.

You can be excused if you’ve so far failed to properly acknowledge Woods’s passing, since even by Maine standards, he’s a pretty obscure figure. But he did run for the US Senate in 2012 as an Independent, dropping out in the final days of the campaign and throwing his support to eventual winner Angus King. Given that Woods, a Yarmouth business owner and town councilor, was polling in the low single digits at the time, that had a minimal impact on the outcome, which saw King cruise to victory.

As 2014 approached, Woods registered in the Democratic Party and announced he was running for governor. Hardly anybody paid attention, because, as you may have noticed, there are other, more viable options in that race. But Democratic officials were apparently concerned that Woods’s candidacy would prove a minor distraction from their focus on uniting the party behind presumptive nominee US Representative Mike Michaud. So they worked out a deal with Woods whereby he’d give up his long-shot bid for the Blaine House and run for the Legislature instead.

Woods was willing to go along with that alteration in his ambitions, but was concerned that if he ran for the state Senate seat representing Portland’s northern suburbs, he’d face primary opposition backed by the party apparatus. So he negotiated a weird, confidential deal with party honchos that in return for his not mucking up their gubernatorial campaign, they’d remain neutral in the legislative contest.

The value of such a document would have to be somewhere between extraordinarily low and completely nonexistent, but Woods insisted on it being drafted. If it helped him at all, it wasn’t apparent at the polls. In the June primary, Woods, in spite of spending over $50,000 of mostly his own money, got trounced by better than a 2-1 margin by former Falmouth Town Councilor Cathy Breen, who spent about $7,000. Woods blamed his lack of voter appeal and subsequent lopsided loss on a conspiracy by Democratic insiders. Other observers, perhaps employing a more levelheaded analysis, chalked it up to Woods’s abrasive personality and, possibly, his outlandish position on dealing with the declining economy in northern Maine.

Nevertheless, Woods filed a complaint with the state Commission of Governmental Ethics and Election Practices (motto: Isn’t “Governmental Ethics” An Oxymoron?) alleging Dem leaders “organized and contrived” to defeat him and hand the nomination to Breen. As evidence of this, he pointed to an endorsement of his opponent by the Falmouth Democratic Town Committee.

Due to egregious federal interference in our lives in the form of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, there’s apparently no state law preventing persons or groups from making endorsements, an oversight that falls under the heading of free speech or something. As a result, the ethics commission dismissed most of Woods’s conspiracy theory, but did agree to investigate whether the Falmouth Dems should have registered as a political action committee before communicating with likely voters encouraging support for Breen.

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