Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Saying nothing

Al Diamon

Does it ever occur to candidates for governor that the glowing essays about themselves they post on their websites ought to make some kind of sense or contain actual positions on issues?

Apparently not.

Here are some perplexing examples.

According to Republican Garrett Mason’s site, “His mom worked at home, raising a family that pinched pennies sewing much of the childrens’ (sic) clothes. These are the values that have made him a lifelong conservative Republican.”

Sewing clothes isn’t a value. It’s a skill. Like learning proper punctuation. It’s also worth noting that Elvis Presley’s mom sewed his clothes, and he ended up a dope-addled recluse.

What Mason is trying to convey here is that his family didn’t have much money. Lots of candidates emphasize the same thing, attempting to out-poor each other, until the whole contest degenerates into a Monty Python routine. Somebody should tell them that some poor kids grow up to be governors, some grow up to be jerks, and some grow up to be both governors and jerks.

As a result, I’ll skip independent Terry Hayes’ childhood trauma and instead, note this gem from her home page: “As Governor, Terry will focus on moving the needle on key metrics.”

Translation? Sorry, I don’t speak biz-vomit.

Also, Hayes calls herself “an outsider on the inside of state government.” She’s been a state representative, a member of legislative leadership and is serving her second term as state treasurer. She brags about all the conflicts she’s resolved through behind-the-scenes negotiations. That’s sort of the definition of an insider.

Some candidates have attempted to mitigate their tendency to post something stupid by refusing to post much of anything. The nearest Democrat Jim Boyle comes to taking a stand on his single-page site is suggesting, “We need to pull together.” Democrat Diane Russell uses a similar amount of cyberspace in promising to “unrig the system.”

Pulling and unrigging. That seems less about governing and more about tug-of-war. Or bondage.

Democrat Mark Eves takes longer to say less. “We’ve got to start listening to people across the state,” Eves writes, “about the things that frustrate them and hold them back. Because it’s real.”

Frustration is certainly real for anyone looking for Eves' stands on issues.

Democrat Adam Cote would expand Medicaid, unless that’s already been done by the time he takes office. And he’ll have some other positions at a later date.

Democrat Janet Mills distributed the anti-overdose drug Narcan to police stations and sued a financial rating outfit for failing to warn us of the Great Recession. Check back later for actual information.

GOP candidate Ken Fredette makes much of being a “Lifelong Republican,” apparently having enrolled at birth.

Democrat Betsy Sweet goes on at length without ever mentioning she’s a lobbyist.
Democrat Mark Dion makes sure you know he’s been a cop. But not that kind of cop. A nice cop.

Republican Mary Mayhew’s site is an exercise in fantasy, as she spins her stint as commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to make it appear as something other than a disaster. There’s also this gem:

“With a keen focus on data analytics and data-informed decision-making, her agency prioritized measurable performance outcomes.”

If you’re looking for clear stands on issues, you should avoid GOP candidate Shawn Moody’s site. With one exception that I’ll get to in a moment, he prefers platitudes to positions. For instance:

On economic development: “[We] can’t look back, we must keep growing.”

On budgeting: “We need to be smart about our finances.”

On the opioid crisis: “We can’t turn a blind eye to this and hope that it goes away.”

On veterans: “Our Veterans have sacrificed for our freedoms. I will never forget it.”

On health care: “I am committed to working toward solutions to this crisis.”

On education: “We need to tap the potential of every Maine person to help Maine, our state, be even more successful.”

It’s helpful that he explained that Maine is “our state,” or we might have been confused.

As for Moody’s single stand on an issue, he promises to oppose taxpayer-funded abortions. Since those don’t exist in Maine (you know, our state), that’s not all that daring. But Moody tucked it in there among the blather because he’s trying to appear pro-life, even though he was more or less pro-choice when he ran for governor as an independent in 2010.

That’s sorta sleazy. But it’s still more revealing than the rest of his website.

If you email me at, my only promise is to read what you wrote. That’s it.

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7 Responses »

  1. Hey Al, happy New Year but that is a not a fair comparison you made between whatever Mason says her mom did for him, and Elvis Presley's mother sewing his clothes. When Mason was born in 1985, Maine ranked 19 amongt the 50 states, in economic terms. When Presley was born, in MS, that was the poorest state of the then 49 state union. Then, at age 13, he moved to the second poorest.TN. And then, from that status of utmost poverty, he became the most celebrated singer in history, his pilgrimage from day1| to his tragic end the largest widest, of any Amercand born in the XXth century. How can you even compare Mason to Presley, whose home has been visited by 21 million and paying touristrs, including heads of State, Nobel Prize winners, royalty, forner, sitting or future, as well as tens of millions of people of modest, middle or high class backgorunds, coming from all over the world. When one references a person of Presley's stature, you can not jump from his mom swewing his clotheres to the end of 1976, withiot referencing anything in between.

  2. I think it's most unfair as well as being inaccurate to say that Elvis died "a dope-addled addict".
    I don't know where you live, but where I live "dope" means an illegal substance.
    Everyone (except perhaps your good self) knows that Elvis was addicted to prescription medication, which was regularly prescribed by a doctor.
    Reporting accurately is also a skill, by the way.

  3. You might also have mentioned that before being "a dope-addicted addict" Elvis paid vast amounts of earnings in income tax, and willingly served as an ordinary GI during the height of the Cold War. At the time he was a huge star and could have served as an entertainer instead of going to Germany.
    So perhaps there is a link between those whose mothers have sewn their clothes after all. Hopefully in saying this I haven't supported any far-right racist candidates!

  4. Actually according to a recent in depth article by Forbes, he may have been indeeed the largest individual taxpayer in the US without being in the list of the 1,000 wealthiest amercans.

  5. Truth and forthright honesty in candidates websites Al? What fun would that be?It's all about virtue signalling- on the environment, abortion, race, gender, etc.

    Here's what I look for-

    Democrat web sites- How fast will I move Maine towards Venezuelan democratic socialism? How much can I disrespect Trump?

    Republican web sites- How much am I the next LePage? How much and how do I acknowledge Trump?

    Al, you going to come out of the closet for AG Mills before the primary?

  6. A little reading of Steven Pinker would help many people and politicians. 'Classic style' is what both camps need. Clear writing. Prose as a window into the world.

  7. Dear Sphinx,

    You will wait until H*ll is frozen over (It's close this week) before Maine gubernatorial politicians acquire style and clarity. The last one who had any at all is currently handing out ice skates at H*ll's annex, the US Senate.

    Having never heard of Pinker, I looked him up. My, he certainly is a well washed and well lettered intalekchewal, in spite of the obvious handicaps: Canada, Harvard, and linguistics. I include linguistics as a drawback because of the strangle-hold long held by one Noam Chomsky. Also, in his long and detailed CV, I failed to find one instance of his influencing (positively) a politician. I could have missed it, as I was getting drowsy.

    Sometimes the window opened by prose shows only a drab little world not worth investigating more than a few minutes.