LEWISTON, Maine — The candidates running for governor in Maine are staking out their positions on the hot-button abortion issue this week.
On Tuesday, Eliot Cutler, an independent from Cape Elizabeth, released his answers to a questionnaire from Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund — a political action committee — noting again he is the only candidate in the race to consistently support abortion rights.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage is viewed largely as a pro-life candidate — although he has not made policy related to the issue a priority of his administration. He has received a 0 percent ranking from NARAL Pro-Choice America while receiving a 86 percent rating from the Maine Right to Life Committee, according to Project Vote Smart, a nonprofit organization that rates politicians and candidates on a range of issues and topics.
LePage, the oldest of 18 children, has repeatedly noted his own mother could have made different choices, according to LePage’s campaign spokesman Brent Littlefield.
“He has repeatedly said that in his broken household, his mother could have made a different decision and he is glad she chose life,” Littlefield wrote in an email message to the Sun Journal.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ candidate, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud has a mixed voting record on abortion.
“Congressman Michaud has made his stance on choice clear,” Michaud’s campaign spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said Tuesday. “He unequivocally supports a women’s reproductive rights.”
Reinholt also noted that Michaud over the last four years has a consistent pro-choice voting record and is the only candidate in the race to have the endorsement of NARAL and 100 percent ranking from the national pro-choice group.
Cutler’s release Tuesday was the second in two weeks focusing on family issues and women.
Last week, Cutler staked out his turf on the equal pay issue in a statement responding to Michaud’s announcement that he would support for a minimum wage increase both nationally and in Maine.
“It’s important that the people of Maine know where candidates stand on issues important to them,” Cutler said.
Cutler said he was posting his response to questionnaires his campaign had received because Michaud and LePage were refusing to participate in public debate with him on the issues voters are interested in. Cutler also challenged Michaud and LePage to post the answers their campaigns were providing to a variety of interest organizations.
“Voters and the Maine media should insist that candidates reveal how they have responded — what promises and commitments they have made — to these special interest groups,” Cutler said.
Cutler has also posted his responses to questions from The Sierra Club, the MSEA-SEIU and the AFL-CIO.
Nicole Clegg, chairwoman of the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund PAC, said Tuesday the PAC was still evaluating candidate responses and had not yet endorsed a candidate in the 2014 Maine gubernatorial race.