Politics & Other Mistakes: A new standard for awful

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The contest for worst candidate of the year is far from over. And Seth Carey is no longer the front-runner.

When Maine Republicans nominated Carey to run for district attorney in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, he looked like a clear winner (of this dubious distinction, not the election).

Carey’s license to practice law has been suspended four times in the last decade for infractions ranging from incompetence to allegations of sexual assault. To hide his stellar record, he had himself listed on the ballot as “S. Thomas Carey” in hopes voters would mistake him for other attorneys with similar names.

But Carey will have a tough time competing with Stavros Mendros, GOP candidate for a state Senate seat in Saco and vicinity.

Mendros served two terms as a state representative from Lewiston from 1998-2002, after which he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 2nd District, did a stint as a Lewiston city councilor and then became involved in a series of sketchy referendum campaigns, some of which involved petitions signed by dead people.

In the Lewiston Sun Journal, fellow Republican legislative candidate Mike Lachance called Mendros’ candidacy “self-destructive for the party and an insult to Mainers.”

Here are a few other words legislators from both parties have used to describe Mendros in Sun Journal articles: “immature,” “shrill,” “a political opportunist,” “egotistical,” “abrasive,” “self-serving,” “a press hog,” “vastly ineffective,” and the sponsor of legislation termed ”bizarre,” “stupid” and “unworkable.”

In Mendros’ first three years in office, he sponsored 30 bills. One became law. He shrugged off that feeble record, telling the newspaper, “I’m sure it’s because I haven’t played the game.”

Since then, Mendros has continued not playing the game.

In 2002, while still serving in the House, he put his expired legislative license plates on a friend’s car that wasn’t registered. When a cop pulled him over, it turned out the car was also uninspected, uninsured, and Mendros wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

In 2003, his City Council candidacy was called into question because it appeared he didn’t live in the ward he was seeking to represent.

In 2005, he ran a failed petition drive to repeal parts of the state budget. Of the 57,000 names he collected, the secretary of state found more than 17,000 invalid.

Nevertheless, that campaign convinced him he’d found a career. He formed Olympic Consulting to run referendum drives. He wasn’t fussy about who he worked for, signing on to a campaign to outlaw slot machines, while also working to bring a casino to Oxford County. Asked about that inconsistency, he told the Sun Journal, “I’ll sign anything.”

Apparently so. In 2007, Mendros pleaded guilty to three counts of improperly notarizing referendum documents and was fined $2,000.

In 2009, he worked on a drive to repeal a tax reform plan. A town clerk discovered some signatures appeared to have been signed post mortem.

In 2011, he was involved in an unsuccessful campaign to allow a casino in Lewiston, an effort that went to elaborate lengths to obscure the source of large contributions from gambling interests to a political action committee run by Mendros. In 2013, he signed a consent agreement that, while not acknowledging fault, required him to pay a $15,000 fine. He called that “total vindication.”

In 2015, he was removed as chairman of the Androscoggin County Republican Committee during a dispute over missing money. Mendros claimed the committee was trying to cover up a crime. Committee members said Mendros went to the district attorney even though they’d already worked out a deal with the group’s former treasurer to repay the cash.

In 2016, petition circulators for a referendum for a York County casino said Mendros didn’t pay them. Mendros said that was because the people behind that unsuccessful effort didn’t pay him.

In 2017, police stopped a car Mendros was driving on the Maine Turnpike and found his female passenger in possession of heroin. Mendros said he was an Uber driver, and he only knew the woman because he was writing a book about heroin addiction. She was arrested. He wasn’t.

And this year, Mendros was central to the unsuccessful drive to get GOP U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn on the ballot. Lots of names on Linn’s petitions belonged to people who were technically ineligible to sign due to being deceased.

Now, Mendros lives in Hollis and is seeking the state Senate seat held by Democrat Justin Chenette of Saco, a heavy favorite to win re-election.

Mendros himself is a heavy favorite to keep adding to his lengthy list of transgressions.

I’d prefer not to receive emails from dead people at aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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