A columnist’s conundrum

As some of you might know, I’ve been volunteering for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor. He formally announced he is running last week. Come Sept. 1, I’ll be officially joining the campaign as a senior adviser.

The new job creates a conundrum for the newspaper, the candidate and for me.

During the past two election cycles, while working on campaigns to restore voting rights and to allow all loving committed couples to marry, I was able to avoid problems by disclosing my role and trying to stay away from the subject matter of the campaigns.

That’s simply impossible with a gubernatorial campaign. Any issue — local, state or federal — could become part of the election.

Given that the focus of my column for the past two years has been largely on state-level issues, the idea that I could somehow avoid everything that might come up as part of an election for governor is not realistic.

In addition, this column has always been an expression of my opinions and interpretations of events. But given a close affiliation with a candidate, it would be hard to separate my ideas from the official position of the campaign.

Even with a disclosure, there would always be a question of whether or not I’m writing my own views or simply carrying water for the candidate.

That’s unfair to readers, and it’s unfair to the candidate.

Taking into consideration the high stakes of the election in 2014, it became clear to me that I would have to put the column on hiatus until after the gubernatorial election.

I am thankful for the good partners and editors I’ve had at the BDN and the many readers who have taken the time to write me with their thoughts, insights and insults.

I’ve gotten to know a number of people who I like and respect, some of whom have never agreed with a word I have written. And I believe that I’ve made friends.

While the column is going on break, this column, in fact, is not my last. It’s the penultimate. My last column will appear next week. I wanted my last column to be the real thing. I’m not sure yet what, exactly, I’ll write about, but I’ll try to make it more interesting than this one.

As an editor told me when I was just starting out as a reporter and sometimes struggling with an assignment: Say what happened. When you’re finished, stop writing. See you next week!

David Farmer

About David Farmer

David Farmer is a political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children. He was senior adviser to Democrat Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor and a longtime journalist. You can reach him at dfarmer14@hotmail.com.