Unless you live under a rock, it is old news by now that Senator Olympia Snowe will not seek re-election in the 2012 cycle. Yes, Maine’s senior senator plans to put it out to pasture, thus causing massive fissures in the Pine Tree State’s political landscape.
Not since Smith mailed it in against Hathaway have pundits (were there “pundits” then?) pontificated and pols postured with such zeal.
Immediately in the wake of Snowe’s Tuesday afternoon announcement, it seemed every insider had the scoop: Raye would run; Abbott would advance; Hobbins would hop in; Pingree would purchase it; and Michaud would wimp out. Hosts of second-tier solons stood ready to pursue higher office as both of Maine’s Congressional seats appeared to be up for grabs.
Only one thing seemed certain. Steven Scharf would be gathering signatures by the score somewhere at a location near you. It has made great fodder for those who like to flap their gums. Some prognosticators had it right—others, not so much. Even now we don’t really know. Only when March 15 gets here will the cast be dyed.
Lost in the static was a significant event. In light of all the logistical jockeying and grinding gridlock that—according to Snowe—caused this catastrophe, Congress will take definitive action to create a new constitutional office. Yes, in addition to all the tsemisht about who would run for Senate and creeping through the cacophony of potential candidates for Congress comes word of a new race: Office of Perennial Candidate of the Year.
Rules for the new seat. Aside from collecting signatures limited strictly to one’s supporters in a previous race, candidates for this office must have run—and lost—for a minimum of three elected offices previous to filing papers. If elected, the winner will serve for one year and will be ineligible to run again (obviously, once a victory is under the belt, one would lose the moniker of “Perennial Candidate”), while the vanquished opponent would be on the ballot next time around as a matter of law.
Social impact. Aside from giving guys who just can’t seem to git-r-done a fighting chance at claiming victory, this new office will spur economic expansion with TV spots and direct mailers paid for with Clean Election dollars (has to be government funded—nobody will donate to the campaigns of former runner-ups).
Additionally, the hiring of staff during the tenure in office will help drive down Maine’s unemployment rate to below federal thresholds, thereby disqualifying other Mainers who have been out of work for the past 99 weeks an extension of benefits. (This will help broaden the field of potential future Republican Perennial Candidates after Ben Grant calls any GOP wanna-be mean and hateful names; bad things are always the fault of Republicans, according to Ben).
In related commentary, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz will appear on FOX to demand the immediate arrest of Dick Cheney, and Occupy Maine will call for statewide protests of AIPAC. (If the weather turns bad—or good, for that matter—DWS blames Cheney, and Occupy Maine always follows the lead of national Occupy movements. So, what the hell, thought I’d throw those in there).
Incidentally, potential staffers for the winner will be mandated, de jure so to speak, to have served as a minion in a minority office in order to qualify for the new positions.
First out of the gate with the real story: As a political prognosticator, it feels good to have the inside info on this one. Last Tuesday everybody and their brother had the scoop (most were wrong—except for the Scharf thing), predicting the future as potential candidates fled to north of the Arctic Circle or anticipated whether the Senate menu would feature Angus beef. But your humble pundit put his nose to the grindstone getting to the bottom of this new race.
Lucky’s got the lowdown. Facing off in the inaugural Perennial Candidate of the Year contest:
Strimling vs. Summers.
Lucky Cambridge is a political observer who—until now—couldn’t get anybody to print his stuff. He lives in Southern Maine with a cat and a couple of fly rods.