Another Independent Tries To Upset Establishment In Maine

Eliot Cutler announces his candidacy Tuesday. Democrats fear he could hand the governor’s race to LePage.

FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2012 file photo, Maine independent Senate candidate Angus King speaks at a news conference in Brunswick, Maine. King's opponent, Republican Charlie Summers is getting another television boost _ the biggest yet _ in the U.S. Senate race in Maine. A National Republican Senate Committee official says $600,000 is being spent over the next two weeks. The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official tells The Associated Press that Maine is one of three states where the committee is currently engaged. 
AP
Kevin Brennan
Add to Briefcase
Kevin Brennan
Sept. 24, 2013, 2 a.m.

Maine has a long tra­di­tion of sup­port­ing in­de­pend­ent can­did­ates, most re­cently with Sen. An­gus King in 2012. But when in­de­pend­ent can­did­ate Eli­ot Cut­ler launches his second gubernat­ori­al run in Maine on Tues­day, he’ll be greeted with Demo­crat­ic cri­ti­cisms that he’s help­ing hand the race to Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Paul LePage.

“To call me a spoil­er now when I got twice the votes that the Demo­crat got in 2010?” Cut­ler asks when probed about com­ments made about his can­did­acy by Demo­crat­ic Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation chair­man Peter Shum­lin and oth­er Demo­crats. “This is just babble. It’s mean­ing­less babble.”

The Demo­crat­ic charge against Cut­ler is straight-for­ward. Shum­lin said in May: “A vote for Eli­ot Cut­ler is a vote for Paul LePage.” Early pub­lic polling sug­gests that the GOP gov­ernor would lose badly in a one-on-one match­up against Rep. Mike Michaud, the likely Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee. But in a three-way race like the one that al­lowed him to win the gov­ernor­ship with just 38 per­cent of the vote in 2010, LePage’s chances of win­ning a second term in­crease dra­mat­ic­ally.

Cut­ler has his own ar­gu­ment to make: After start­ing the 2010 gubernat­ori­al race as a vir­tu­al un­known, he lost to LePage by less than two per­cent­age points and out­paced Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee Libby Mitchell by 17 points. That per­form­ance, coupled with Maine’s his­tory of elect­ing in­de­pend­ent can­did­ates, make him more cred­ible con­tender than fringe can­did­ate.

These two com­pet­ing nar­rat­ives, along with the of­ten-con­tro­ver­sial LePage’s up­hill fight for an­oth­er four years, com­bine to make Maine’s gubernat­ori­al con­test one of the most com­pel­ling races of the 2014 cycle. And Cut­ler’s can­did­acy, while prob­lem­at­ic for Demo­crats, vir­tu­ally as­sures a com­pet­it­ive race of some form or an­oth­er.

Un­like in 2010, Cut­ler, who re­leased a 104-page policy book last week, be­gins this race as a known quant­ity able to tap in­to an es­tab­lished net­work of donors. But he’ll likely face a stronger Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate than the un­der­whelm­ing Mitchell. Michaud, the six-term con­gress­man from Maine’s 2nd Dis­trict, was the party’s top re­cruit and seems less likely to cede usu­al Demo­crat­ic voters to an in­de­pend­ent can­did­ate.

But Cut­ler says one of the biggest prob­lems with Demo­crats la­beling him a spoil­er is the un­der­ly­ing as­sump­tion that co­ali­tions will closely mir­ror those from 2010. “There’s a real pos­sib­il­ity, if not a like­li­hood, that dur­ing the course of this cam­paign many people who voted for LePage — in­de­pend­ents, Re­pub­lic­ans — in 2010 and who are to one de­gree or an­oth­er dis­sat­is­fied with his per­form­ance in of­fice are go­ing to come to the opin­ion that either he shouldn’t or can’t win reelec­tion,” Cut­ler said. In oth­er words, any loss of sup­port to Michaud could the­or­et­ic­ally be off­set by at­tract­ing dis­en­chanted LePage voters.

Cut­ler also draws op­tim­ism from Maine’s his­tory of sup­port­ing in­de­pend­ent can­did­ates. Pri­or to win­ning the Sen­ate race last fall, Sen. An­gus King won two terms as gov­ernor run­ning as an in­de­pend­ent. Since King’s first win in 1994, an in­de­pend­ent can­did­ate has re­ceived at least 20 per­cent of the vote in every Maine gubernat­ori­al elec­tion but one. King is the only in­de­pend­ent in that stretch to ac­tu­ally pull off a vic­tory.

Cut­ler hopes that tend­ency to think bey­ond the two parties pays di­vidends for him the second time around. Asked if Michaud would make a bet­ter gov­ernor than LePage, Cut­ler said: “I don’t think about bet­ter. I think about best.”

What We're Following See More »
CANNOT “IN GOOD CONSCIENCE” VOTE FOR BILL
McCain Won’t Support Graham-Cassidy Bill
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a statement Friday, Sen. John McCain wrote, "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions." His "no" vote makes it much less likely Republicans will repeal and replace Obamacare by Sept. 30.

Source:
NEW DIRECTIVES ISSUED
DeVos Officially Replaces Obama-era Sexual Assault Guidelines
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

As anticipated, the Department of Education today withdrew the controversial Obama-era "Dear Colleague" letter on campus sexual assault, replacing it with new interim guidance. Most notably, the new guidance permits colleges to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, rather than the preponderance of evidence standard that the 2011 letter seemed to mandate. "The new guidance also states that colleges may facilitate informal resolutions, including mediation, if all parties agree to participate in that process."

Source:
EXPECTED TO TAKE EFFECT BY SUNDAY
Country-Specific Rules to Replace Travel Ban
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Trump administration will unveil more tailored restrictions on travelers from certain countries as a replacement to the controversial travel ban, according to a senior administration official. The new restrictions will vary by country. They could include a ban on travel to the United States, or new restrictions on obtaining a visa for citizens of particular countries." They are expected to be unveiled by Sunday.

Source:
MORE TRANSPARENCY THAN FEC REQUIRES
Facebook Enhances Disclosure for Political Ads
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a live-streamed address from Silicon Valley, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a nine-point plan that the tech giant is rolling out over coming months to respond to "efforts by nation-states and private actors to use the social media platform to influence U.S. elections." Most importantly, the company will force all advertisers to disclose what ads they're running to all audiences. “When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they’re required by law to disclose who paid for them,” Zuckerberg said. “But you still don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Source:
TRUMP ADMIN CRACKING DOWN ON LEAKS
Mandatory Training EPA Employees on Leaking
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

As "part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies," Environmental Protection Agency employees "are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information ... Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep 'Controlled Unclassified Information' from unauthorized disclosure."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login