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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Maine gubernatorial election gives voters a clear choice - Congressman Michaud challenges partisanism

Three clear choices for governor in Maine. Which of these candidates do you trust to create Maine jobs?

From left Eliot Cutler (I), Governor Paul LePage (R) and Congressman Mike Michaud (D)

Obviously, in a three way election, the man who is eventually elected must attract support from beyond the partisan voter bases.  

One independent candidate is drawing votes from both the Democrat Mike Michaud as well as the incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage. A winner is highly unlikely to receive a majority vote. 

Clearly, every vote counts.

LePage enjoys solid support from constituent Republicans, especially conservatives who strongly approve of his welfare reform initiatives, which pretty much includes cutting the numbers of enrolled beneficiaries. 

Eliot Cutler is an Independent candidate who has a strong voice about breaking the political status quo, while supportive of progressive policies and experience attracting private businesses to Maine.

Congressman Mike Michaud is the Democratic candidate with a bipartisan message. Political ads supported by  the Michaud campaign emphasize the Congressman's experience reaching across partisan lines to "get the job done".  Now, the Congressman has further advanced his bipartisan message by attracting the endorsement of three Republicans, reported by Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN):

"While in Congress I worked with Republicans, like Congressman Buyer and Secretary Principi to improve the lives of veterans of Maine and all across the country," Michaud said. "I plan to bring that same bipartisan support to the Blaine House if elected governor this November."

In his quest for the Blaine House, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has touted his willingness to reach across partisan lines to get things done. He did so again Monday in Lewiston Maine while introducing three former prominent Republicans who gave Michaud their enthusiastic endorsement.

A group of Maine veterans gathered at Lewiston's Veterans Park for what would prove to be an unusual political event. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine's 2nd District had come to roll out his plans to improve the lives of vets, should he be elected governor, and to help him he turned out three prominent veterans advocates — all of whom are Republicans.

"As I've always said, supporting our veterans isn't a partisan issue," Michaud said.

Standing behind Michaud were Anthony Principi, the former secretary of Veterans Affairs for Republican President George W. Bush; former Indiana Congressman Steve Buyer, who served as the Republican chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and retired Brig. Gen. Don McCormack, a Republican who served as a political appointee in the LePage administration and a former assistant adjutant general for air for the Maine National Guard. Michaud characterized his guests as the kind of advocates who looked beyond partisan lines.

"While in Congress I worked with Republicans, like Congressman Buyer and Secretary Principi to improve the lives of veterans of Maine and all across the country," Michaud said. "I plan to bring that same bipartisan support to the Blaine House if elected governor this November."

Michaud has unveiled an eight-point plan that would guide his veterans’ policy as governor. Chief among those goals are the protection of the Maine Army National Guard's 133rd Engineer Battalion; the expansion of access to health care through Medicaid to nearly 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans, and the overall improvement of existing veteran services. Principi says he was struck by the absence of partisanship in his dealing with Michaud, who served as a ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

"During my tenure as secretary, when Mike joined the committee, he reached out to me and wanted to identify what the challenges were that I was facing as secretary," Principi says. "The needs of my department and how we could work together across the aisle, at both ends of Pennsylvania to find solutions to these problems."

Principi says the collaborative skills needed to craft good public policy seem to come naturally to Michaud.

"He is a decent hardworking humble man, again not looking for the limelight," Principi says. "It wasn't all about Mike Michaud. It was about 'How I can help the veterans of our nation? How can I help the people of Maine?' And that's what he’s all about and that's why I felt it was imperative to come up here to try to explain and tell you a little bit about the man I know, the man I've come to admire and respect enormously."

"When I think about Mike, I think about this is a man who has excellent balance about himself," said Buyer.

Buyer served as the Republican chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee when Michaud was on the panel. He says Michaud's politeness, kindness and civility helped him forge a consensus on the committee as a minority member.

"He knows that those three virtues cost nothing but they're worth plenty," Buyer says. "He also understands that adversity has no friends and I think that's what drives Mike Michaud."

McCormack, a Republican who was appointed assistant adjutant general of the Maine Army National Guard by Gov. Paul LePage said Michaud's temperament would serve him well as governor. McCormack, who retired two years ago, says the Democrat's style is a stark contrast to LePage.

"To me, fear, intimidation, disrespect for your employees are not effective leadership, they're not effective leadership,” McCormack says.

Alex Willette, a spokesman for the LePage campaign, dismissed the endorsements, saying that Principi and Buyer were as culpable as Michaud for the disaster in the Veterans' Administration's health care delivery system. The Cutler campaign says they also share the support of prominent Republicans.


Although the three men offer Maine voters a clear choice (I certainly don't hear the cliche "none of the above" from voters), the primary issue on the ballot Maine jobs. I submit, the extension of the important jobs issue is how to attract a viable workforce. Maine has the oldest population in the nation. A retirement age state won't attract manufacturing employers.  

All three candidates have a vision and experience about jobs creation. Governor LePage was an executive with Marden's, a popular discount retailer. Congressman Michaud attracted contracts from the US military with New Balance corporation in western Maine. Eliot Cutler created economic trade to Maine through his international business leadership.  

Given the three men are equally qualified in the jobs issue, which is the primary concern among voters, the choice will, therefore, be influenced by trust in the candidates.

Take another look at the picture of the three candidates posted in this blog.  Which of the three candidates do you trust?

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