September 16, 2019
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One man’s mail: A look at the 60 political pamphlets that have plagued my inbox

Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
A photo illustration from the Sun Journal newspaper showing some of the political mailers that have been clogging up mailboxes this season.

I am to political campaigns like soft babies are to mosquitoes, apparently.

By the end of a long, expensive campaign season, we’ve all probably experienced every form of political advertising. You can’t watch TV for more than a few minutes without seeing an ad, Google now can deliver messages targeted to congressional districts, and my parents and co-workers have been peppered with phone calls.

As an unenrolled voter in Bangor, I’ve been targeted by an old-fashioned type of political advertising: the mailer.

Since Labor Day, I’ve gotten about 60 of them.

Most of the fliers that have crammed my mailbox have centered on my local state Senate race, in District 32 — the most expensive Maine Senate race this year, featuring incumbent Republican Sen. Nichi Farnham and Democratic challenger Geoffrey Gratwick — and House District 16 — also a hotly contested seat, with incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Damon and John Schneck, his Democratic challenger. Outside groups have spent nearly $350,000 on the two races as of Oct. 24, the BDN’s Matthew Stone reported last week.

Above are the mailers I’ve gotten that target those two races. I’ve received a handful of others, as well: four from Michaud for Congress; an errant handout from Mary Budd, who is running for the Maine House but not in my district; a suspiciously timed legislative update from Farnham; a creepy voter report card listing my (incorrect) voting record; and on Friday my first presidential mailer, urging me to vote for Mitt Romney because he supports traditional marriage. I have not received any mailers in Maine’s expensive U.S. Senate race nor one even mentioning Kevin Raye, Mike Michaud’s challenger in the 2nd District.

“This seems to be the heaviest year for political mail, for some time,” Tom Rizzo, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Maine, told the Sun Journal last month. He didn’t have precise numbers, but the number of mailers this year appeared to be greater than in 2008, Rizzo said.

On Thursday alone I received five mailers. On Friday I stopped by my house during lunch just to check my mailbox and was disappointed to find it empty.

As I got back into my car to head back to work, I noticed the postman walking down the other side of the street and intercepted him.

“Do you have any mail for me?”

He went through his stack and looked at me apologetically.

“Only these,” he said, as he handed me four more mailers.

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