Crash Barry, author, reporter and columnist, posted this piece as part of The Crash Report on his website. The author of “Tough Island, True Stories from Matinicus, Maine” and “Sex, Drugs and Blueberries”, Barry is now working on his next book, “Marijuana Valley, Maine: A True Story.”
By Crash Barry
Someone passed along the code for me to join a conference call on Sept. 21 between Angus King staffers and the King campaign’s county chairs. The candidate himself was supposed to join the conversation from Washington D.C. where he was actively raising much-needed cash. Alas, King was busy meeting money-people, so he didn’t make the call, although some interesting tidbits were mentioned by the participating King-sters.
The campaign finance team is happy with the $1.3 million raised so far, (and pleased with an increase in the number of smaller donations) but they still need to raise another $1.7 million before the race is over. That translates into a goal of taking in $20,000 per day until the November elections. Another finance factoid: the average King donor gives $400. Makes you wonder why King – who is a multi-millionaire – just didn’t self-finance his Senate race to avoid the hassle of traipsing halfway across the country to kneel and beg for cash.
In light of the recent on-line speculation and news stories concerning King’s alleged infidelities, the candidate’s first wife, according to the conference call, proposed to appear in a commercial to refute the gossip. The campaign, however, declined to take her up on the offer.
George Smith, former head of the Sportsman Alliance of Maine, (and brother of King’s field director Edie Smith) is wicked active trying to secure a King endorsement from SAM. Which might be prove difficult, since King’s cheerleading of industrial wind has turned off many outdoorsy folks who are prohibited from hunting, hiking and playing within 500 feet of ridgelines occupied by wind turbines.
The King campaign’s internal polling shows a dramatic downward trend in King’s support and approval rating, but their numbers still have their man as winning. His support is lowest among the over-60s crowd, many of whom remember his 8 years in office with clarity. Most of King’s support, apparently, comes from the under-40 population. Which strikes me as odd, considering that the 68-year-old King hasn’t run for office since 1998, which means no one under the age of 32 has ever had the opportunity to vote for the dude. The youngsters, these days, only know King as the old guy who gave them free laptops when they were in school.
The King campaign is getting ready for a statewide push of pro-King yard signs, plus many giant plywood signs. Some staffers did express concern during the conference call that big signs were potential targets for vandalism or destruction. Other staffers, however, thought the campaign would benefit from positive news coverage if the signs were defaced.
Campaign staffers, by the way, expressed their horror at candidates whose teams place “hundreds” of signs in a single location. Sign clusters for King are apparently forbidden by campaign rules. Violators will be flogged.
King and his krewe will spend the last 72 hours of the campaign touring Maine. The candidate’s entire clan will be involved, so King’s recently purchased $130,000 Mercedes Benz RV won’t be big enough of a rig for his five kids, various spouses and grandchildren, forcing the campaign to charter a bus instead.
At the end of the conference call, the issue of “candidate trackers” entered the conversation. It was noted that King and the campaign are irritated with “Zack the Tracker,” a Republican operative who appears at each public King event. But, according to staffers, Zack doesn’t compare to Washington D.C., where King was being trailed by eight trackers. And King, staffers said, was starting to get pissed at his stalkers.
Uh-oh. Better look out. Because like the Incredible Hulk, King is very unlikable when angry. And that’s according to former Portland Press Herald State House reporter Paul Carrier, who in a recent PPH story by Colin Woodard was quoted saying King “could be thin-skinned and controlling behind the scenes.”