Update: Mike Turcotte announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, that he will not be running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Susan Collins. He said a website and survey he created to weigh interest in a potential campaign didn’t bring a high enough level of interest over two weeks to justify running. He also said a lack of campaign funds played a role in his choice.
BANGOR, Maine — An adjunct ethics professor at Eastern Maine Community College is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Susan Collins, he announced during a sparsely attended Tuesday morning press conference at the Bangor Public Library.
Mike Turcotte, 49, said he has set up an exploratory committee and launched a website, turcotte2014.com, for two main reasons.
“I believe our two-party system, including the funding mechanisms to support it, has failed us,” Turcotte said. “It only seeks to serve its self-interests through the demagoguery of fear and blame. It is also my belief, we need to reset America’s priorities from foreign affairs to domestic matters, and renew the vitality of Maine, and our nation’s economic prosperity, infrastructure and populace.”
Turcotte said he likely would run as an independent, if he runs.
Turcotte was born in Wisconsin and moved to Mobile, Ala., as a child. He moved to Maine in 2004. He said he has a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a master’s degree in leadership and ethics from Spring Hill College of Mobile, Ala.
In 2010, while he was pursuing his master’s in Alabama, Turcotte considered starting a campaign to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, according to Alabama news site AL.com. In that race, Turcotte sought the Democratic nomination, but couldn’t raise the $3,480 fee necessary to run for office in that state. The party didn’t want to foot the bill because the district was heavily Republican and hadn’t elected a Democrat since 1965, according to AL.com.
Three years later, Turcotte has launched an exploratory committee website that includes a survey and an option to donate. He encouraged people to fill out the survey. He planned to hold another news conference in Portland Tuesday afternoon at Portland Public Library.
Asked why he felt he was qualified to run for U.S. Senate, Turcotte countered by asking what was meant by “qualified.” He said people run for office because they want to serve. He said he would leave it up to voters to decide if he should represent them.
“History is awash with great nations who sought to extend their political or religious influence abroad with military force only to have their domestic economies implode from crushing debt and political turmoil,” Turcotte said. “It is said that those who fail to study history are bound to repeat it.”
Turcotte criticized the deadlocks that can result from the two-party system.
In 2011, Turcotte sued Gov. Paul LePage for approving a commission that explored redrawing the lines of maine’s congressional districts without including anyone to represent an independent perspective. He argued that political party members were given special rights over nonparty members when the state began the process of redrawing maps. A judge decided the complaint was moot because the commission had finished its work and the Legislature had rejected its plan and adopted a compromise, according to case records.
Turcotte said he plans to make a final decision on whether to enter the race for Collins’ seat by Jan. 20. He said his decision will be in part based on the results of the survey on his website. The survey closes Jan. 17.
Turcotte is accepting donations on his website, but has said he will only accept contributions from individuals.
Democrat Shenna Bellows, former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, and Republican Erick Bennett, a Portland political consultant and founder of the conservative Maine Equal Rights Center, have said they plan to challenge Collins this year.
Collins, who was first elected in 1996, is serving her third term in the Senate.