AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. John Baldacci jokes that the source of his new haircut must remain “anonymous.”
With buzz-cut side borders highlighting his wispy-haired but mostly bald pate, the governor has moved from a standard male pattern balding look to someone who appears fresh out of the police academy.
Since getting the haircut a few days ago, the new ‘do has generated double takes at a time when talk of the state capital typically features meatier issues such as the annual budget.
Baldacci insists the new style simply shows he’s serious about a stepped-up training regimen so he can make a good showing in this summer’s TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10-kilometer road race in Cape Elizabeth.
“You need to get motivated,” Baldacci said Tuesday during a reluctant interview in his State House office. “You need to get focused.”
Since the 54-year-old governor showed up with his new look late last week, members of his staff and other State House regulars have gossiped discreetly about who did it and why.
One theory was that the close shave came from the governor’s own grooming attempts.
Baldacci claims not to have heard much speculation.
“It’s spring,” he said with a shrug, adding ruefully that “as soon as I got the haircut, the cold weather came back.”
It’s not the first time that Baldacci, whose second and final term ends January 2011, has notably revamped his appearance.
In 2006 when he was up for re-election, Baldacci cooperated with a modest makeover that included touching up his wardrobe.
At the time, Baldacci was quick to put his new fashion sense into context.
“I went and bought clothes at L.L. Bean,” he said then.
This time around, Baldacci is sidestepping the question of exactly who cut his hair, but indicates it was not done in a salon and that he has been known to do it himself.
“This was done in-house,” said the governor, who resides across the street from the State House in Maine’s gubernatorial mansion — known as the Blaine House — with his wife and teenage son.
For the sparsely haired, he suggests, maintenance barbering is not a large-scale chore and performing it at home wouldn’t usually cause a stir.
“There wasn’t a lot to work with before,” he said with a laugh. “It’s not like a lot is gone.”
Skinny and on the small side Baldacci said preparing to run in this summer’s coastal road race, as he has done before, is a healthful goal.
“I try to either walk or run every morning,” said Baldacci, who used to jog down the capital’s side streets but now uses a treadmill.
The governor did allow that his new hairstyle has subtly altered his image.
“I’ve had people recognize a little bit more gray hair than they recognized earlier,” he said before offering to give a reporter a trim.