Democrat Mike Michaud and Republican Kevin Raye both spring from the sacred soil of the state of Maine, although both are a bit tainted by associations with Washington, D.C.

Absent any question about the authenticity of their Pine Tree State credentials, the two candidates for Maine’s 2nd District congressional seat are left to compete over who is the most “regular guy.”

The Raye campaign has a TV ad showing a couple of elderly women disapproving of one of Michaud’s congressional perks, a leased auto. They are shown concluding that this shows Michaud is one of “them,” not one of “us.”

The Michaud campaign has a competing TV ad implying that Raye wallows in the luxury of his redecorated official lounge, complete with a fancy kitchen. This ad is meant to suggest that Raye is not one of “us” but one of “them,” i.e., an elitist living high off the hog at the taxpayer’s expense.

The Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal find this claim to be unconvincing. The Portland Press Herald places Mike’s ad in the “whopper” category, pointing out that the claim that the “lounge” was decorated is wrong, that “private kitchen” is nothing of the sort. Indeed, a “kitchen” consisting of a hot-plate and a refrigerator would be thought pretty meager even by a resident of a mobile home.

These competing claims to “regular guyness” don’t interest me much. Both these men have been in politics for decades. As politicians, they are “them” not “us.” Let’s face it, regular guys don’t put signs with their names on them along the highways.

Also in the let’s face it category: It’s not all that unreasonable to argue that a leased car is a justifiable perk for a man pretending to represent the largest congressional district east of the Mississippi.

If Michaud had defected to North Korea with top secret plans for a turbo-charged forklift and cleared the way for my election, I would have grabbed at that perk myself. Instead, I still have to pay off $30,000 in campaign debts and my PT Cruiser already has failed me on the road twice.

On the other hand, there’s no case to be made that a hot plate represents sybaritic luxury.

Even so, that Michaud’s ad strikes me as “small potatoes, few in the hill” compared to his 2010 Super Whopper. In that year, Michaud claimed in letters to his constituents and in a newspaper column that he had read the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. I quote from his letter:

“Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. I have taken the time to read and carefully study all 1,990 pages of the bill and the accompanying amendments…”

Beware! If a man tells you he read and carefully studied volume 2 of the 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica (1,068 pages) in the space of a few weeks, brace yourself for a bargain price offer on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Your name must be on someone’s sucker list.

Actually no one has read and understood the entire Affordable Care for America Act.

Its prime mover, Nancy Pelosi, has acknowledged that she and her colleagues will not understand it in full until it is implemented.

John Conyers, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee before November 2010 scoffed at the idea that anyone could have read the whole document.

Mind you, I’m not calling my former opponent a liar. I take the view that an untrue statement can’t qualify as a lie unless someone actually believes it. No one can possibly believe that Michaud read that door-stopper of a bill.

True, I’ve seen at least one letter to the editor from a loyal Democrat supporting his bizarre claim, but I suspect the fellow was just pretending.

It would be an interesting exercise for the editorial boards of the state’s newspapers to test Michaud’s knowledge of the bill when they interview him with a view to endorsement. They might ask him to explain the second paragraph on page 888, but I suspect they are too tactful to do so.

John Frary, of Farmington, is a retired professor and former Republican candidate for Congress.

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