March 22, 2018
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Blocked out of the race

By Alex Hammer, Special to the BDN

Sloppy or inefficient government is expensive.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap stated in the Sept. 29 Bangor Daily News that it would cost a minimum of $175,000 for the ballots to be reprinted to include my name in the governor’s race.

That is a substantial amount of money, especially in these trying economic times.

Our campaign is working to demonstrate compellingly in court that the cost to include me on the ballot should have been $0.

In addition, incredibly, the judge has in fact apologized for not even being aware of the case for well over two months after the initial court filing. This despite three separate court filings. I also had written to the judge during this time period, stressing the need for an expedited schedule given the extreme, time-sensitive nature of this case.

We have the signatures — more than 5,900 were collected, all by me personally — and we followed the rules, yet the court ruled against me last month, keeping me off the November ballot.

We have extremely strong legal precedents in our court brief that were supplied by one of the nation’s top experts on ballot access.

Incredibly, the judge didn’t reference these precedents in her decision.

Nor did she discuss within her 13-page decision any of the major arguments detailed in our full court brief.

By contrast, in our appeal, we will be directly addressing the rationale that the judge offered.

Another aspect of expensive government is the degree to which candidates, as public officials-to-be, are beholden to special and entrenched interests.

In my view, the media, while having the potential to be the watchdog, too often covers the candidates in the same manner they’ve predominantly covered our court case. That is, merely reporting “they said” versus “they said.”

None of the news stories in Maine’s media coverage of the judge’s decision in our court case — including print, Web and TV content — included a comment from me at all.

Some of Maine’s top media already has court materials from our ballot access lawsuit, and could deepen their coverage by conducting responsible analysis or employing even modest legwork or research.

We live, perhaps, in a sound-bite culture. While I believe that voters also have a responsibility to do their own general research on the candidates, this becomes easier to do when more quality information is available.

If I weren’t running for governor and were looking to select a candidate, I’d be asking myself, “Who has the knowledge and expertise to get things done?” and “Who examines things in a deeper yet practical way?”

A Hammer administration, as detailed on our campaign website, would work collaboratively and effectively across Maine’s political aisles. Without special interests, and as a state working as smart as we do hard.

The tea party movement is one powerful example, I believe, of a wide phenomenon occurring across the political spectrum — people are fed up with “expensive” government.

Additionally, citizens tell me every day that they feel disempowered by “the system” and-or their government and beaten down.

Following the rules, they say, often doesn’t seem to be quite enough anymore.

That’s what they’ve been telling me.

Alex Hammer of Bangor is seeking to become an independent candidate for governor.

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