Politics & Other Mistakes: Twit King

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Few Maine politicians have had an easier time getting re-elected than independent U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018. King was opposed by…hmmm, it’s tough to remember, but I’m sure the Republicans and Democrats offered up credible candidates.

Except they didn’t. I looked it up. The Dems ran a teacher named Zak Ringelstein, who’d lived in Maine for about 20 minutes and had no political experience. The GOP nominee was Eric Brakey, a libertarian state legislator who could never quite shake a faint odor of kookiness. Neither of them raised much money or offered any hint why they’d be an improvement over King.

Angus never broke a sweat in public and cruised to victory with more than 54 percent of the vote. But behind the scenes, the King campaign was playing hardball — with brass knuckles to back up the baseball bats.

Al DiamonLast month, the latest round of releases from the so-called “Twitter Files” showed King complained to Twitter and Facebook about more than 350 accounts that contained negative references to him. Lots of those postings were from bots, but at least one was run by the Maine Republican Party (dubbed in King’s complaint as being “SO WEIRD”). Others were Brakey supporters that King’s team deemed “trolls.”

It’s not clear if Twitter removed any of these accounts. It’s even less clear why King bothered with this stuff. As David Jones, a Brakey supporter and former gubernatorial candidate, told the Bangor Daily News, “It’s not like Eric was going to beat him. … Is he insecure?”

Or is he a hypocrite? According to GOP operative Lance Dutson, King is no stranger to a little online scamming of his own. Dutson told the Portland Press Herald that in 2012, Angus paid interns using fake names to post favorable comments about him on news sites and blogs.

Was King embarrassed by any of these revelations? Nope. He told News Center Maine, “Listen, I don’t mind a vigorous campaign. Let’s argue about the issues and debate. But let’s be honest about what the facts are, what I say, what my opponents say. And the voters have to be wary that people are actively trying to mislead them. So, if somebody’s gonna come after me with a misleading — uh, with misinformation, I’m gonna respond.”

This makes approximately zero sense. If King wanted a “vigorous debate,” he should have made his accusations public. If he wanted the public to be “wary,” he should have told them what to be wary of. If his strategy was to respond to “misinformation,” he shouldn’t have responded in a way that he figured voters would never find out about.

Even so, there might be one logical explanation for Angus’s over-the-top response to online criticism. He’s already announced he’s running for another six-year term in 2024. If his opponents — again, almost certainly nonentities — try to attack him on social media, they’ve been given fair warning that King won’t hesitate to pound them senseless.

Speaking of senseless

John Glowa Sr., a retired state worker and unsuccessful legislative candidate from South China, sent a letter to Maine State Employees Association members last month informing them he’s “considering” a run for King’s Senate seat. But that’s not all. If Glowa fails to win that election, he plans to run for governor in 2026.

If he does seek the Blaine House, it’ll be Glowa’s second attempt to win that office. He tried to launch a Democratic primary challenge to eventual governor Janet Mills in 2018, but in his letter, he claims he was “shunned and ostracized by many in the party machine,” making it impossible for him to get the required signatures to get on the ballot.

The fact he had no money, no organization and no name recognition also could have played a role in his failed candidacy.

Glowa has occasionally attracted attention for his persistent claims that Maine still has a native population of wolves and for his opposition to almost all forms of hunting. He hasn’t made much headway convincing anyone on either front, but that doesn’t bother him.

“I don’t give up and I don’t go away,” he told MSEA members.

Nevertheless, he should probably stay off Twitter.

Running against King? Email your obit to [email protected].

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