May 25, 2018
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Gubernatorial candidates slammed by editorials

By Richard P. Ruhlin, Special to the BDN

I understand that the editorial page is a bastion of opinion and differs from what many of us consider as objective fact. However, it probably will be better accepted if it did have a more balanced and unbiased approach when defining the gubernatorial candidates of both major parties. This point is especially relevant when looking at the Bangor Daily News’ May 22 editorials on the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor.

I prefer not to discuss directly the editorial that covered the Republican candidates for governor other than to mention in passing the opportunity I had of serving quite directly with Sen. Peter Mills. I found him to be well-prepared, thoughtful, pragmatic, caring and an absolute gentleman, well-qualified to be our chief executive.

The portrayal of three of the Democratic candidates as being “old-school insiders” who symbolize patronage carried on over the years is insulting to any fair and impartial judgment of their service to Maine and its residents.

Using Pat McGowan’s service as an example: It is one of efficiently and effectively managing governmental services, and I cite his record as regional director of the Small Business Administration active in bringing new, small businesses to Maine. He reduced the number of employees in his office and still processed more successful applications to aid Maine small businesses than his predecessor.

As commissioner of conservation he went on to preserve an unprecedented additional 1 million-plus acres for the recreational use of all Maine people, this on top of having been a principal author of the successful Land for Maine’s Future program legislation. He also served honorably and effectively in the state Legislature, showing a high capability of working cooperatively with members of both parties and in both the executive and legislative branches of government.

The editorial seems to disparage that service. I say that judgment is not objective and is wrong.

A conscientious and objective consideration of the many groundbreaking and positive accomplishments of both Senate President Libby Mitchell and former Attorney General Steve Rowe speak highly of not only their past accomplishments, but also their desire to serve and the potential they offer for a new beginning for a brighter and more prosperous future for the people of Maine. I’ll give just one more example of success: Attorney General Rowe, joining with other attorneys general, was successful in suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency, forcing it to do its job of protecting our air quality.

Yet, despite the high level of service these candidates have given over the years, the BDN defines them as “governmental insiders symbolic of political patronage,” essentially saying that Democratic political experience is a negative, as opposed to the other side of the aisle. The BDN appears to define what most people call pub-lic service as political patronage if done by Democrats, but rate experience by the Republican candidates in a positive light.

In addition to public service, Pat McGowan, along with candidate Rosa Scarcelli, has operated private businesses and understands what it is like to meet a payroll. Ninety percent of Maine’s work force is composed of small-business owners and employees. To understand this group is to have worked in and alongside this group, and Pat and Rosa have done that. That is a level of experience not held by any Republican candidate endorsed by this newspaper.

You draw the conclusion that by suggesting new programs there is a call to a bigger government; I say this is not at all so but rather a call for re-ordering priorities under present budgetary constraints in an attempt to provide a better future for all our people. A more balanced and positive outlook with fairness of observation for both political parties will make a major difference in more accurately informing your readers of the choices facing them.

Richard P. Ruhlin of Brewer is a former Democratic state senator.

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