GORHAM — With less than 24 hours until voting begins, and his independent candidacy for governor registering only in the single digits in most polls, Shawn Moody decided to spend part of his last day on the campaign trail by visiting his neighborhood hardware store.

He smiled and quietly said hello to employees at Cook’s Ace Hardware on Main Street in Gorham, around 10:30 a.m. He quickly made his way to the back office, where he found Judy Stevens and Cynthia Hawkes.

“I thought I’d just come in and say hello, so people here don’t forget what I look like,” said Moody, who lives in Gorham and grew up in town.

“Oh, Shawn, you know everybody in here is going to vote for you,” said Stevens, the store’s bookkeeper.

“We remember you coming in here when you were a teenager, with your checkbook, trying to start up your business,” said Hawkes, a store manager.

Moody has been doing business with Cook’s since he started his own auto body business at age 17. Today, at the age of 51, he has five Moody’s Collision Centers in southern Maine, employing 75 people. He also had an auto recycling business, which he sold for a sum in the millions.

With no political experience, Moody decided to run for governor earlier this year, trying to convince voters that the leadership, problem-solving and collaborative spirit that made his business successful would translate into success in government.

Moody has traveled the state extensively, so much that he feels like he’s overlooked his hometown a little bit. So on Monday, he decided to try to fix that by visiting small businesses while driving around Gorham in his smelly pickup truck. (“That rear end grease smells awful. Sorry about that,” Moody said.)

Later in the day, around 4 p.m., he was scheduled to be at Bath Iron Works to greet night-shift workers, then he’d make a few stops on his drive Down East to Ellsworth, where his wife has family and where he’d begin his Election Day stumping.

But until he had to head to Bath, he walked and drove around Gorham, “to thank people and say hello,” he said. There were no scheduled events, and Moody made his visits alone.

In the hammer aisle at Cook’s, Moody ran into Allen Berry, a former body shop manager himself. Berry told Moody he had already voted for him, and he shouldn’t worry about what the polls say. Berry told Moody he thought Mainers would vote for Moody because he’s said nothing bad about his opponents.

Later in the morning, in the Mister Bagel on New Portland Road, Moody spotted Wendy O’Neil, whom he’s known since high school. O’Neil said she’d seen Moody on a televised debate Saturday night and was glad he didn’t get involved in the “butting of heads” and attacks launched by other candidates.

“Was it that apparent that they were going at each other?” asked Moody.

“Oh yeah, but you made it very clear you weren’t going to get involved,” said O’Neil.

Moody walked to busineses up and down Main Street. Inside the Chalmers Insurance Group office, he was greeted with the news that he’d won Gorham High School’s mock election.

“Well, that’s a good sign,” Moody said. “I heard we won (a mock election) in Fort Fairfield, too. How about that?”

When Moody walked into the Village Hair salon around noon, Cheri McPhee greeted him warmly and then said quickly: “Did you hear about my mom?”

Moody looked grave for a moment, before McPhee said something that made him shake the worry off.

“She called the other day and wanted to know if you’d won yet,” said McPhee, with a laugh. “She’s up in Canada and had no idea when the election is. But I’m getting her a ‘Moody for Governor’ T-shirt anyway.”

McPhee said she had already voted. Moody told her that voting early was a good way to avoid the survey takers and politicians who want your attention before and after voting.

Then suddenly, Moody’s face went blank.

“Geez, I guess this year I’m going to be one of those I guys I usually try to avoid,” Moody told McPhee.

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: [email protected]