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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Funny Side Of U.S. Elections

NEW YORK -- Things became strange out on the campaign trail leading up to Tuesday's midterm elections.


A Hawaiian congressional candidate vanished. A bank robber ran for the Montana state legislature. And around the country more than one candidate wooed voters with the promise that, if voted into office, they would quit.


Putting aside the serious issues in the coming poll, 1994 has had more than its share of political oddities.


Take Alaska. While voters there have been enthralled by the debate over whether to move the state capital from Juneau to someplace colder, a real issue has taken root in the race for governor.


Republican Jim Campbell, who is partly bald, has been attacking Democrat Tony Knowles for, among other things, having "good hair," like President Bill Clinton.


Nothing so strange in this perhaps, since from Alaska to Alabama negative campaigning was the favored electoral gambit this year. But what about the candidates who seemed to have turned the tactic on themselves, with barbed references to their own less than desirable qualifications?


For instance, Joseph Brennan, a Democratic candidate for governor in Maine, said he has "more experience with firearms than any other gubernatorial candidate." Specifically, Brennan, an Army veteran, has attested to his competence with machine guns and bazookas.


There was another tactic that took hold this year that is harder to categorize as negative or positive. What do you say about someone who promised to quit if elected?


In Sheridan County, Montana, kamikaze candidate Mary Nielsen ran for assessor with the slogan: "Elect me. I'll resign."


There is some logic to this. The Montana legislature abolished the duties of county assessors last year, but Sheridan County missed the deadline for abolishing the post locally. Nielsen, a Republican, said she could save the county $117,000 in salary and benefits over her four-year non-term.


In Hawaii, Republican congressional candidate Robert Garner issued no ultimatum -- or anything else. He disappeared.


Garner defeated two opponents in the Sept. 17 primary to take on Democrat Patsy Mink. And that was about the last anyone heard from him.


Garner is said by acquaintances to be alive and well and on a boat somewhere. Hawaii Republican Chairman Jared Jossem calls him "an extremely independent Republican."


Then there was Lennie Thompson, a Democratic nominee for the state House in Montana. He volunteered at a candidates' forum last spring that his r?sum? included a stint as a bank robber.


He served 2 1/2 years for robbery in the 1970s. "My past is not who I am today," he insisted.