PORTLAND — “Fatboy is running.” That’s how Bob Higgins, a columnist for the Portland Daily Sun, announced his candidacy for mayor last week on his website.

Higgins isn’t your typical candidate. His blog is littered with cryptic C.S. Lewis references. He constantly makes fun of himself. He works day shifts at a local dry-cleaning business. And on Tuesday, he marched around downtown with a clipboard, paunch, T-shirt and raggedy Red Sox hat – anything but a normal politician’s get-up.

One of his friends already told Higgins to his face that he wouldn’t vote for him. “It would be like electing Cartman,” the friend said, referring to the crude, acerbic fourth-grader from the TV show “South Park.”

But behind the eccentricities, Fatboy brings some meat to the table. He suggested this week that new businesses be allowed to pay their 2012 city taxes over a five-year period if they moved into vacant city buildings. That would allow businesses to have extra cash on hand until the economy improves, and help the city by promoting entrepreneurship and eliminating vacancies, he said.

To some extent, Higgins is running a “protest” candidacy. He said he doesn’t like the ranking system for mayor and wants to prove that a guy who’s no one’s first choice can win the race. He wants to give a voice to the 48 percent of voters who thought the ranking system was a bad idea, he said.

But when push to comes to shove, Higgins would also like to win and to govern. “I could do the job,” he said. Fatboy has spoken.

MR. BRENNAN GOES TO WASHINGTON

Mayoral candidate Mike Brennan will head to Washington, D.C., on Friday to take part in the White House’s Community Leader Briefing Series. The series is a weekly Friday event throughout the summer, during which White House officials meet with community leaders to talk about the administration’s initiatives and priorities and hear from grassroots leaders.

Brennan – the former Senate majority leader in Augusta – said he was chosen because of his experience and accomplishments. He called it “an extraordinary opportunity.”

“This is exactly what a mayor of Portland will do,” he said. “The mayor will be a very valuable link between federal government and the city, mostly in Augusta, working on issues like business, economic development, education and energy – issues that matter to Portland. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Brennan’s spokeswoman, Crystal Canney, said organizers did not want to release the names of others attending the event, but said Brennan was the only mayoral candidate.

VAIL CALLS HIS SHOT

Christopher Vail, the Portland firefighter and mayoral candidate, really likes the Red Sox’ chances of winning the World Series. When asked about the team’s prospects, he said only a National League powerhouse like the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves could stop them.

So it says a lot about his confidence level when he says he thinks he has a better chance at the mayor’s position than the Sox do to win the World Series.

“Chris Vail is much healthier right now than the Red Sox, so I would say I’m the better bet,” he said, referring to injured Red Sox stars Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.

Vail has been pounding the pavement to get signatures with his 16-month-old son, whom he watches on day shifts while his wife works. He said his son sometimes naps on the campaign trail.

Vail’s slogan is, “Bringing common sense to City Hall.” He tells voters he would work with Republicans, Democrats or anyone else. “A good idea is a good idea,” said Vail, who described himself as an independent. “It doesn’t matter where it comes from – if it’s good, I’ll use it and push for it.”

FORMER MAYOR ENDORSES CARMONA

Mayoral candidate Ralph Carmona received an endorsement last week from Esther Clenott, who served as the city’s mayor in 1989 and 1990.

“Ralph is just what Portland needs,” Clenott said in a news release. “He has 40 years of diverse professional business, political and community experience and has worked with cities smaller and larger than Portland and with part-time and full-time mayors and city councilors.”

Clenott, who also served as a Cumberland County commissioner, said she’s putting Carmona first on her ballot ahead of several friends.

“I have been friends with two of the candidates for many years,” Clenott said. “(But) to support any former state legislator or present local elected official for mayor (would be the) same old, same old.”

TEN OFFICIAL CANDIDATES

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 10 mayoral candidates had at least 300 signatures verified by the City Clerk’s Office. Brennan, Carmona, Jodie Lapchick, Jill Duson, John Eder, Hamza Haadoow, David Marshall, Nick Mavodones, Markos Miller and Jed Rathband will all be on the November ballot. Charles Bragdon and Ethan Strimling have handed in signatures, but they haven’t been verified yet. Peter Bryant has handed in signatures, but not yet enough to qualify. … Jay York and Zouhair Bouzrara have officially dropped out of the race, leaving 19 potential candidates. York never wanted to win – he only wanted to voice his disapproval of the new mayor’s position, which he said is essentially powerless.

 

Staff Writer Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or:

[email protected]