LEWISTON — When it comes to beating long odds, John Jenkins says he’s been there, done that.
But can he do this?
With less than two weeks left for Jenkins to officially declare his write-in candidacy for governor, the former mayor of Auburn and Lewiston is facing significant obstacles, including his message, money and a support threshold organized through the Facebook site “Draft John Jenkins 2B Maine’s Governor in 2010.”
On Tuesday, Jenkins met with the Sun Journal’s editorial board to address his candidacy and his platform. As of Tuesday evening, Jenkins’ Facebook page had 2,232 fans, less than half of the 5,000 the former mayor and state senator says he wants before launching his campaign.
According to the state’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, the filing deadline for gubernatorial write-in candidates is Sept. 20. Jenkins said he wants to meet the 5,000-fan mark by Sept. 17.
Jenkins was undaunted by the challenge.
“If we get the 5,000 (fans), that’s great,” he said. “I’m at peace with the situation no matter what.”
Jenkins, 58, of Auburn, now works as a motivational speaker.
He would run for governor as an independent.
Three years ago, a tide of write-in votes swept Jenkins into the Auburn mayor’s office. His successful bid marked the city’s first election of a write-in candidate.
On Tuesday, Jenkins admitted his gubernatorial bid is a long shot. However, he said he is confident his populist message would mobilize voters uninspired by the five other candidates on the ballot.
“I’ve been counted out before,” he added. “They don’t know how big my dream is.”
Jenkins said he was uncertain if he’d continue the campaign if he falls short of the support goal, a self-imposed quota he hoped would legitimize his participation in debates.
As for his late arrival to the race, Jenkins said he was convinced by Jeff Benedict, a marketing businessman from Waterville, to seek the Blaine House.
Jenkins aborted a 2002 campaign for the office after falling short on both nomination papers and campaign contributions. He was also unsuccessful in 2006.
His latest platform is a two-layered acronym dubbed MAINE. Jenkins said it stands for Maine An Integrated Network Economy. It also stands for Marine Resources, Agriculture, Industry and Innovation, New Investment and Education.
Jenkins said his overall governing philosophy was to further involve the public in policy making.
“We need homegrown solutions, not Augusta-based solutions,” he said.
In a paper outlining his platform, Jenkins said he favors marriage equality and enforcing a five-year public assistance limit. His welfare policy also includes a sliding scale of assistance based on income and helping recipients go from “welfare to workfare.”
He also supports nutritional guidelines for food vouchers.
On jobs, Jenkins said he wants to create incentive programs that encourage innovation and a “consistent and predictable business friendly public policy.”
Jenkins said wind and nuclear power were important to energy policy, but was vague about which shape those policies should take.
Jenkins was also confident that campaign contributions would increase as word spreads about his candidacy.
Still, he acknowledged that he faces an uphill battle.
“I mean, who starts a campaign eight weeks out and with no money?” he said. “It defies logic. It’s never been done before.”