Today I’m announcing my candidacy for governor. Sort of. I’m entering the race as a virtual candidate (that’s virtual, not virtuous). You won’t find me on the ballot, won’t see me in foolish 30-second TV ads, won’t have to send me a contribution.

I’ve never had any interest in running for governor, and the problems facing our state today would not tempt any rational person in that direction. But for 65 years, Maine has educated and nurtured me, provided good jobs and room to roam. Today I feel compelled to offer something back to my state. And the only thing I can come up with to offer is myself.

As the campaign progresses (yes, I may be naïve, but I am hoping for progress), I will push and prod my fellow candidates (and isn’t it too bad we’re all men), expecting them to ignore me. But I won’t ignore them, and I’m hoping you will insist that they respond to my candidacy. In fact, you are going to have a major role in this campaign.

I do know the job well, having kicked around — and been kicked around — in or near politics and government for more than 40 years. To succeed, a governor must surround himself with good competent people. I know a lot of good competent people. You, for example. If you’d like to serve in my virtual administration, send me your resume and thoughts. I’ll be announcing my cabinet choices before the election.

I shall try to be funny — because the others will be deadly serious — and we sure do need some laughter at the state Capitol. My campaign will be fun — and we’ll try to spread some of this to the other campaigns. In the process, perhaps we’ll learn some valuable things about Paul, Mike, and Eliot. Yes, we’re going to keep this on a friendly first-name basis.

I am thinking “Bull Moose” would be an appropriate name for my political party, or perhaps Bully Moose (oops, I am getting too close to criticizing an opponent, so I’ll drop back).

In my pocket, I carry a shiny black rock from the beach at Lubec’s West Quoddy Head Light, to remind me of my mother and my Downeast heritage. Instead of providing campaign buttons, I ask you to collect a rock from your favorite place in our state and keep it in your pocket or purse, a constant reminder of what is special about our state, and a prod to do more as an individual to protect and enhance these special qualities and places. Perhaps my opponents will do this and let us know where their rock comes from and why that place is special to them.

Our campaign song will be “Slow Down (You’ll Hit A Moose)” by my friend Stan Keach and the Sandy River Ramblers (from their Cry of the Loon CD). Seems especially appropriate given the name of my political party.

You are invited to submit suggestions for our campaign slogan. We won’t spoil Maine’s roadsides with signs. I do plan — again with your help — to create a candidate survey hoping that, with a bit of pressure from you, Paul, Mike, and Eliot will complete it. These will be questions like this one: Have you ever made fun of yourself? Tell us about it!

As a Maine sportsman, I’ll be taking a lot of time off from the campaign trail to hunt turkeys and deer. Don’t say I never told you that. And during fishing season, I’ll be doing a lot of field research. Perhaps you’ll join me. Anything to get away from politics!

When our children were young, we’d take them up to the Hall’s dairy farm for the “coming out” of the cows. After being cooped up in the barn all winter, the barn door is opened and the cows gallop out, dancing and prancing around the field. The very entertaining spectacle drew so many of us that the Halls had to put up bleachers.

To give you a break, I’m inviting Paul, Mike, and Eliot to join me in the barn for the rest of the winter. We’ll put up bleachers and invite you to our coming out this spring. Should be the best campaign event ever, if we’re half as entertaining as the cows were.

While we are lingering in the barn, your task will be to help me plan the campaign, from events to survey questions. No idea is too frivolous or foolish. Start sending them my way today!

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.