Chuckie, you need to do a heckuva job

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You’re a good man, Chuck Dow, by all appraisals. Your last job as a special assistant to Attorney General Steven Rowe, put you in the Rolodex of every reporter, legislator, lobbyist, politico and policy wonk that haunted the State House during the past six years, who knew you as the AG’s spokesman and legislative liaison.

Before that, you hit the books. From 1990 to 1997, you studied at the University of Maine in Fort Kent – your hometown – and Orono to earn degrees in English, the social sciences, and the coveted “juris doctorate.”

It’s understandable why your career led you from Aroostook County to Augusta. Some say you were aided by the powerful Sen. John Martin, after being active in Fort Kent’s Democratic committee in the early 1990s. (One year, you were party chair.)

You’re a “company guy:” a Democrat, politically connected, intelligent (law degrees aren’t given away) and loyal to the administration. Your benefactor, Rowe, is likely eyeing higher office once he’s term-limited. Your future was in flux.

So Gov. John Baldacci, himself in his final term, nominated you to a district court judgeship, over 200 applicants. The Maine Senate confirmed your appointment on Tuesday, following a contentious review before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

Republicans decry your candidacy as a putrid piece of patronage. It’s not about you, they say, it’s about your lack of qualifications. Your courtroom experience is limited, to say the least; in a personnel questionnaire, you described your minimal courtroom experience as administrative and non-jury in nature.

“No court,” was your direct answer when queried about your courtroom work in the past five years. But then again, you’re not the first person nominated to the bench straight from the AG’s office, or lacking courtroom experience.

It’s a tough position to find yourself. On one side, you’ve worked diligently for what you’ve accomplished, both professionally and personally. You’re a family man, with three children, and you help your wife run a small-business. Everybody likes you, and thinks you’re a great guy, just inexperienced.

Should the governor have nominated you? He strongly defended your candidacy in the press. Baldacci told the Kennebec Journal that he preferred a respectful chap like yourself, rather than some “hot shot” lawyer going on a power trip upon donning a black robe.

Nobody likes cronyism, and your appointment reeks of it. Judges, though, are like umpires and referees: If you never hear about them, you know they’re doing a good job.

Few knew Chuck Dow two months ago. Now you’re known statewide as Judge Charles Dow, following this nastily partisan appointment process. There’s one thing you must do to quiet doubters, and prove you’re not patronage, but belong on the bench.

Chuckie, you need to go out and do a heckuva job.

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