Traditionally, my first column after an election is devoted to the Gaggie Awards, recognizing entertaining political incompetence. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this year. Or, maybe, ever again.
The Gaggies were named for Hayes Gahagan, an independent U.S. Senate candidate in 1978 who held one of the most titillating press conferences in Maine history. Shortly before election day, he announced that unknown, subversive agents had altered his campaign photos by implanting subliminal images of female genitalia in his hairline.
“This is no joke,” Gahagan said. “It’s a national scandal, and I’m not the only candidate.”
He was, however, the only candidate to make such a claim (others may have feared doing so might cause a youthful Donald Trump to grope their heads). Also, when journalists examined blow-ups of Gahagan’s coiffure, they found no unusual anatomical details, although they did find evidence the candidate should employ a stronger dandruff shampoo and a psychiatrist.
Gahagan lost to Republican Bill Cohen, who also had impressive hair, even if it lacked subliminal enhancements.
But back to the Gaggies. In past years, I’ve had little trouble finding worthy contenders for these honors. But in sifting through this batch of nominees, it became obvious they hadn’t upgraded their stupidity to match that of Trump, Hillary Clinton and Paul LePage, Maine’s Republican governor and ambulatory trash bag filled with used hypodermic needles.
Take for example Rick Snow, a GOP state House candidate from Yarmouth, who offered this logically impaired argument against raising the minimum age: “Where would that money be spent? We’ve heard about the opiate issues in the state of Maine. Are we going to add more income to individuals so they can spend it on illegal activities?”
Snow later told the Portland Press Herald, “[M]y brain was moving much faster than my mouth,” although it seems more likely the opposite is true.
What’s notable is how unremarkable Snow’s comment seems when considered next to the bombast spewed out by Trump, Clinton and LePage. Compared to them, he might be making polite dinner conversation.
Republican state Rep. Larry Lockman of Amherst claimed he didn’t need to register the New England Opportunity Project as a political action committee because the flyer it sent out wasn’t attempting to influence voters. The pamphlet was headlined, “Should Maine taxpayers continue to give welfare benefits to Islamic State terrorists living in Maine? Ask Jeff McCabe!”
Not surprisingly, McCabe, current Democratic representative from Skowhegan and state Senate candidate, answered Lockman’s question with a “No.”
Lockman used to be a lot more Gaggie-eligible. Last year, he called an Episcopal lay preacher running for Lewiston mayor “an anti-Christian bigot.” He’s referred to homosexuality as “a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.” He once suggested that if women were free to have abortions, men should be permitted to rape them.
Lockman has since dialed it down some, although not to the point where he might be mistaken for a normal person.
I’m writing this column before voting results are known, but in the unlikely event Brewer City Council candidate Randy Tompkins got elected, he’ll have to attend meetings via Skype. According to the Bangor Daily News, his bail conditions prevent him from having contact with some city officials or entering many municipal buildings. Tompkins is accused of falsely claiming a city employee tried to take his wheelchair from him, as well as failure to submit to arrest.
Still, his anger-management issues pale when compared to the average voice-mail message from LePage.
Finally, the Gaggies have always held in special esteem candidates who extol their virtues in the third person. But Trump owns this egomaniacal category so thoroughly that when GOP state Sen. Rodney Whittemore of Skowhegan told the Morning Sentinel, “Rodney Whittemore is not a career politician. Rodney Whittemore is a patriot,” it seemed quaint. And when the Press Herald asked Republican state Rep. Michael Timmons of Cumberland about reports he folded under pressure from GOP leaders on votes to release bonds for public lands and set solar-power policy, he claimed it was “a set-up to make Mike look bad.”
Which it did. But compared to Donald, Hillary or Paul … meh. No Gaggie for him.
Don’t complain by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org that there are hardly any Democrats mentioned above. Most Democrats are too dull to win Gaggies.