As election nears, mail turns odd

Posted Oct. 15, 2010, at 8:55 p.m.

The e-mail from the White House press office was a surprise. “Due to the high volume of messages received at this address, the White House is unable to process the e-mail you just sent,” it read, listing the proper online address for such contact.

Thankful that the White House press operation would take the time to set me straight on such a mundane housekeeping procedure when there must be more pressing matters at hand in this year of our discontent, I was nonetheless bewildered. Because I hadn’t “just sent” the White House an e-mail — nor do I contemplate doing so in this lifetime — the gesture didn’t inspire much confidence that the outfit has a firm grip on things.

The communication was not the only strange message I have found in my cyberspace mailbox of late. And that’s not counting the one from “Miss Anita,” who wrote that she was “well pleased to contact you after going through your profile, on my search for relationship.” Play my cards right, and a photograph of my would-be cyberspace pal would follow, I was promised just before I hit the delete key to vaporize any such arrangement.

More unusual than the correspondence from Miss Anita was a pair of e-mail solicitations from the budding Pingree political dynasty — one message from the campaign of Democratic 1st District Rep. Chellie, the other from her daughter Hannah, speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

Hannah Pingree tipped me off that the Republican Party had just aired what she described as “a nasty personal attack ad” that cast a negative light on the personal life of her mother, who is running for re-election against Republican Dean Scontras of Eliot in the Nov. 2 election.

“Mom needs to fight back, and hard. But she needs you to join her,” Pingree the younger, D-North Haven, wrote. She sought to raise roughly $14,000 for the Chellie Pingree campaign to stay on the air and to make sure Mainers know where her mother stands as the election nears. The gist of her message was that if I could donate just $15 to the cause, it would be of immense help in fighting the forces of evil. A Portland TV station subsequently pulled the ad after it had run twice.

E-mail from Chellie Pingree’s campaign headquarters several days previously had sought to recruit me to participate in a project dubbed “Call For Chellie,” a phone bank operation that would solicit votes for her re-election, long-distance, on my dime. “With just your computer and your phone you can help contact voters in Maine and help make a difference in this election — wherever you are,” the message advised.

Where I am, of course, is living happily ever after in a precinct near the outer limits of the 2nd Congressional District — the longtime fiefdom of Pingree’s fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud — so far removed from Pingree’s 1st District bailiwick and any standing to suggest to voters in her district how they should vote, I might as well be domiciled in Mongolia. I presume others residing in the 2nd District received the same pitch from the Pingree campaign.

I’m thinking that what we may have here is some sort of computer glitch born of a desire to embrace the latest technology in all facets of our lives, including elections. An interesting malfunction, to be sure, but harmless.

One would suppose that Michaud might not be all that thrilled, though, to have Team Pingree poaching on his turf, trolling for cash donations and volunteer labor that might otherwise benefit his own re-election campaign against Republican Jason Levesque.

Meanwhile, Hannah Pingree was otherwise in the news this week, featured in the October issue of the magazine Marie Claire as a recipient of its Women on Top award. The magazine described the 33-year old Maine House speaker as “the next Nancy Pelosi.” If ever there has been a characterization that can cut two ways, it would be this one — considered a huge compliment in some jurisdictions, but in others not so much.

In any case, the characterization seems condescending. I do not know Hannah Pingree, but she strikes me as one who enjoys being Hannah Pingree, confident in her abilities and proud of her accomplishments at such a tender age, as well she should be. Maybe Nancy Pelosi should aspire to become the next Hannah Pingree.

BDN columnist Kent Ward lives in Limestone. Readers may reach him by e-mail at olddawg@bangordailynews.com.

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