We like and admire John Jenkins. In fact, we’ve never met anyone who didn’t.

Jenkins is about as popular a politician as you will find in the Twin Cities.

But any decision to run for governor should be based upon way more than the number of Facebook friends a man can acquire in 45 days.

Jenkins, the only person ever elected mayor on both sides of the river, announced Tuesday that he may enter the governor’s race as a write-in candidate.

He says the idea was implanted by Jeff Benedict, a marketing expert from Waterville, who met Jenkins several years ago at a business function.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people that have said, ‘Yes, I know John and it would be great if he would do this,'” Benedict said.

Charisma and popularity are certainly important to any political campaign, and Jenkins has plenty of both.

He also has a fair amount of relevant experience in municipal government and from the one term he spent in the state Senate.

But we are wary of the slap-dash nature of this decision.

Candidates often make this call a year or two in advance of Election Day. They then spend time setting up a network of supporters and potential donors.

There’s a reason “testing the waters” has become a cliche — because nearly everyone does it.

Jenkins would be entering a crowded field of three independent and two major-party candidates, all of whom have been running hard for months.

But, just because everyone does it one way doesn’t mean everyone has to.

Still, it certainly helps to have money and a network of supporters ready, especially in a statewide race.

There are other practical hurdles.

Benedict estimates that Jenkins will hit his Facebook goal of 5,000 friends in 20 days, or by Sept. 18.

That would leave about five weeks before the election for Jenkins to convince more than 200,000 people to vote for him. Gov. John Baldacci won with 209,000 votes in a five-person field in 2006.

Again, anything is possible, but is it likely? Especially without major money for TV and newspaper ads to get his message out.

But here’s our biggest concern: Anyone running for the top job in this state should have a vision of where we need to go and how we will get there.

That should be any potential candidate’s first reason, their primary motive, for running for office, even before asking whether they are likely to win.

In this regard, Jenkins seems to have things backward: People think I can win, now what’s my message?

The Web is also rife with speculation about Jenkins’ ulterior motives. Would his real goal be to deprive Republican candidate Paul LePage of votes in Lewiston-Auburn, his hometown, potentially denying him a statewide victory?

Is Jenkins simply doing this to promote his motivational business or to feed his own ego?

Having covered the man for a long time, we don’t believe the cynics.

Jenkins says his motive is public service, and we take him at his word.

But purity of motive still doesn’t make this a good idea.

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