He was neither as good as you remember nor as bad as his opponents want you to think, but Angus King can cut through the ugly partisanship in Washington, D.C., and that’s why I’m voting for him on Nov. 6.
Count me as a disaffected and disappointed Republican, a man who steps away from his friend Charlie Summers to cast his vote for real change. I do feel badly about abandoning Charlie, a good man, a great sportsman and (I hope) still my friend.
But, of course, I also remember how good Angus was as governor. He’s a smart, capable, personable guy, strong enough to make an impact in the very tough political environment in our nation’s capital.
I really believe he will make a difference down there.
In fact, I would vote for Angus just to stab my voting finger in the eyes of those wealthy national manipulators who have turned Maine’s airways into a sewer, dumping their smelly garbage into our homes night after night after night.
Imagine that your enemy has millions of dollars to trash your reputation and ruin your public image. Imagine that they pay a man with a video camera to follow you day and night, hoping to record a wisecrack that will offend people.
Imagine you are Angus King. You stepped up to govern Maine, did a superb job, and left office with a high degree of popularity (and what politician these days leaves office still popular?), only to have nasty political operatives at the national level distort and lie about your record to the point that you don’t even recognize it. And their ads worked!
Imagine that you took note of the nation’s need to create clean energy — and your state’s desperate need to wean itself off its crippling oil dependency — and you decided to react to that need by first creating a successful business focused on hydropower and energy efficiency, and later turning your business interest to harnessing the wind to create electricity, only to have your work turned into something more reprehensible than if you’d — gasp! — drilled for oil on the Blaine House lawn.
During his eight years as Maine’s governor, I worked as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. We enjoyed a great relationship, and Angus kept every promise he made to SAM and the sportsmen and women of Maine.
I certainly didn’t agree with everything he did, but he was open to discussion, listened well, and was always up front and honest. And he’s likeable — a real people-person — something I don’t see in many of today’s combat-ready-at-all-times politicians.
It’s interesting that Angus is on the ballot with a bond issue for the Land For Maine’s Future Fund. He played an important role, as a private citizen, in creating the LMF program. And during his eight-year tenure as governor, Mainers conserved more land than we had in the entire history of our state up until that time.
Please vote for the very modest $5 million Land for Maine’s Future bond issue on the ballot. The program will be out of money if the bond issue fails. And there are still many special places that should be conserved and kept available to the public.
Last June, I wrote a column focused on what Angus did for the sportsmen and women of our state. Today, I end this column just as I ended that column, on a personal note.
Angus became a wonderful friend of my family, a relationship that continues to this day, particularly with my 89-year-old Dad. My sister Edie is managing the King campaign’s field operations. My daughter Rebekah has worked hard on policy issues for Angus, as a volunteer. The entire Smith family is involved in the King campaign in some capacity.
And here’s why. When we were celebrating Dad’s 85th birthday four years ago with a small family gathering at his Winthrop home, I answered a knock on the door to find Angus standing there with a present for Dad. Unbeknownst to us, Dad had invited Angus to his family birthday party.
That he showed up was no surprise to any of us, because he’s a quality guy who did a quality job for his state and its people.
Angus didn’t deserve what he got in this campaign, but we can make it all right by voting for him now.
George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or georgesmith firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.