BANGOR, Maine — Former Maine independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler said Wednesday morning that he likes his chances of winning a potential election, even if it evolves into a race with three or more big-name candidates.
“I see a big turnout,” Cutler said Wednesday, looking ahead to 2014. “I see a win for whoever is talking best about how to move Maine forward.”
Cutler, who drew nearly 37 percent of the vote in the 2010 race, filed paperwork on Thursday with the Maine Ethics Commission to form a campaign committee, a move that will allow him to begin raising money for a possible Blaine House bid.
A recent survey from the North Carolina pollster found LePage has a good shot at winning re-election next year in a potential three-way match-up. The survey asked voters for their preferences if LePage were running against independent Eliot Cutler and five different Democrats: Baldacci, U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, Attorney General Janet Mills and former state Sen. (and BDN columnist) Ethan Strimling.
LePage came out on top in each scenario, leading four to seven points. Cutler came in second each time, except for when Michaud and Pingree were thrown into the mix.
Cutler spoke Wednesday morning at an Action Committee of 50 event held at Husson University. Action Committee of 50 is a nonprofit economic development corporation geared toward improving trade and logistics in Maine as a way of attracting and retaining jobs in the region. The committee also backs infrastructure projects, such as the east-west corridor, expansion of rail services and port development to open up shipping opportunities.
Cutler, a Bangor native, told the gathering of business, education and political officials that Bangor is a beacon for how the state should plan for growth in the future. He cited the Waterfront Concerts Series — which a University of Maine study recently found had an economic impact of more than $30 million locally over the past three years — and the Cross Insurance Center, which is poised to open later this year.
Maine needs to unite and follow suit by crafting its own vision and plan for what the future of the state will look like and what economic opportunities it will breed, Cutler said.
He called the 2000s “the lost decade,” citing the statistic that Maine has the same number of jobs it did in 1999. He criticized government leadership, which has “failed miserably to invest in a statewide strategy.”
“There’s no common vision of where Maine should be in 20 or 30 years,” he said.
Cutler stressed the importance of building wood products exports, as well as tourism, which he called “our biggest export of all.” As part of that push, he said Maine should rebrand itself to “leverage [the state’s] competitive advantages.”
He laid out a few goals the state should strive for, including doubling the number of visitors who come to Maine by 2020 and increasing by one-half the amount of money they spend while here, as well as increasing the amount of cultivated land and working farms in the state.
“We’re so busy fighting over shares of a shrinking pie that we’re paying almost no attention to making the pie bigger,” Cutler said.
“Merely being reactive and plugging holes as they appear is no way to build an economy,” he added.