The blah, blah campaign and Scott Brown for president

Posted Jan. 22, 2010, at 8:44 p.m.

Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s political upset in Massachusetts earlier this week catapulted the former state legislator into the national spotlight.

A Bangor company is hoping — and betting — that Brown’s meteoric rise won’t stop at the U.S. Senate.

Four days before Brown’s election, the Web design folks at Interactive Marketing Group snatched up the proprietary rights to the site scottbrownforpresident.com.

The site has since been turned into something that is part petition for a Brown candidacy and part community forum on political issues.

Interactive Marketing Group’s John McKinnon acknowledged Friday that part of the reason for acquiring the domain name is financial. Should a Brown-for-President campaign actually emerge, the firm could potentially sell the rights to the site for big money.

But McKinnon, who places himself in the “fairly moderate” section of the political spectrum, said he believes Brown has real potential. McKinnon said Brown has the moderate appeal of two other successful Republicans who have been in the news almost nonstop during the past year: Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

This isn’t the first time Interactive Marketing Group has designed a political Web site. Interestingly, the company designed Gov. John Baldacci’s site during the Democrat’s 2002 campaign. Some of the company’s past non-political clients include Quirk Auto and Holiday Inn Portland West, according to Interactive Marketing Group’s website.

McKinnon hasn’t received any calls from the Brown campaign or the Republican National Committee — at least not yet.

“Just the media,” he said.

Asked how much he could potentially profit from the site should Brown actually become a White House contender, McKinnon laughed and then quipped: “I either want $1 million or a Cabinet position.”

Blah, blah, blah

On Thursday, Rep. Mike Michaud’s Republican challenger this November, Jason Levesque, began a six-week bus tour around Maine’s 2nd District.

But a slip-up before the tour even began generated more than a few smirks.

On Wednesday, Levesque’s campaign sent out a news release announcing the location of the first stops on “The Blah Blah Tour.” About 90 minutes later, a revised release went out renaming the campaign bus trip “The Kick-Off Tour.”

Alicia Preston, who had sent out the release, acknowledged that the “Blah Blah” part was a goof. Those were supposed to be placeholder words for the tour’s true name. But Preston said the mistake took on a whole other meaning among people tired of what they see as the same-old political rhetoric from the nation’s capital.

“It is now ‘The Blah Blah Tour’ to mimic what is coming out of Washington,” Preston said Friday.

Still crowded

More than a week has passed since anyone has officially joined the race for governor. The number of active candidates now stands at 23, according to the list of people who have filed paperwork with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

Thirteen of the 23 crowded together on a stage in South Portland for the first debate of the race. The debate was sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of Maine and was held during the organization’s annual meeting.

In addition to offering brief statements, candidates answered a wide range of questions on everything from their stances on last year’s tax restructuring bill to whether they caught a fish or shot a deer last year.

Matt Marks, chief operating officer for Associated General Contractors, said the event was intended to be both informational and entertaining.

“I think they really recognized the importance of our industry this year,” Marks said Friday. “So I think that overall it was a good introduction and it was a lot of fun.”

Coming up

Here are a few noteworthy or interesting issues coming up next week in Augusta:

• The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold public hearings on Monday and Tuesday on several bills seeking to change or undo aspects of Maine’s school consolidation law.

• The Health and Human Services Committee will continue its work sessions Tuesday and Wednesday — starting at 1 p.m. — on budget cuts to Department of Health and Human Services programs.

• The Utilities and Energy Committee will hold public hearings at 1 p.m. Wednesday on bills that propose to limit the University of Maine’s abilities to offer broadband Internet services that compete with the private sector.

• Maine’s top judge, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, will deliver the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

• Transportation Committee members will hear comments at 1 p.m. Tuesday on a resolve directing the Department of Transportation to review the fiscal effects if Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway follows through on its proposal to close or abandon tracks between Millinocket and Madawaska, possibly selling them to the state.

• The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold work sessions at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday on possible changes to Maine’s sex offender registry law in response to a recent court ruling.

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