LEWISTON, Maine — In an odd twist Monday, a national group that aims to temper the partisan divide in American politics, gave U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, its “problem solver seal of approval.”
The seal is not an endorsement of Michaud’s 2014 bid for the governor’s office in Maine but a reflection of his work in Congress, according to No Labels, the D.C.-based organization also supported by Michaud’s gubernatorial rival, independent Eliot Cutler.
Cutler also was one of the organization’s founding members.
“In the U.S. Congress, Mike Michaud has been working to usher in a new politics of problem solving. And we’re excited to see him take that attitude back to Maine in his race for governor,” No Labels co-founder Mark McKinnon said in a prepared statement.
McKinnon pointed out Michaud’s strong support for No Labels’ National Strategic Agenda, which is an effort to push lawmakers away from partisan politics and toward problem solving in Congress and at the state legislative level.
The agenda includes four specific goals including:
— Adding 25 million new jobs in the U.S. over the next 10 years.
— Securing Medicare and Social Security for another 75 years.
— Balancing the federal budget by 2030.
— Making America energy secure by 2035.
Michaud acknowledged the nod from No Labels.
“Ideas don’t start out as partisan,” Michaud said in a prepared statement. “That’s what they become when people put partisanship ahead of progress. Throughout my time in public service, I’ve brought Democrats, Republicans and independents together to solve problems, and I’m committed to continuing that collaborative approach as governor.”
But David Sorensen, a spokesman for the Maine GOP, said Michaud was undeserving of the No Labels accolade noting Congressional Quarterly’s index of party unity/partisanship, which ranked Michaud as voting with his party 91.3 percent of the time.
Sorensen also pointed to the Washington Post’s rankings of party loyalty that shows Michaud voting along party lines 94 percent of the time.
He said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine also seeking re-election, received a more bipartisan voting score than Michaud did with a Congressional Quarterly ranking of 62 percent.
“Michael Michaud went to Washington billing himself as a deal-maker, but it’s clear now that he’s as partisan as he is obscure in our nation’s capital, voting year after year on party lines with liberal extremists like Nancy Pelosi,” Sorensen said in a message to Maine reporters.
Sorensen made no mention of Gov. Paul LePage, who is seeking re-election in a race that includes Michaud and Cutler.
Lizzy Reinholt, spokeswoman for Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign, said the omission of a mention of LePage in the statement Sorensen issued to reporters was curious.
Reinholt said it also was natural that Michaud would have ranking that appeared more partisan than Collins’ as he serves in the U.S. House, which has been largely controlled by conservative Republicans.
“LePage has vetoed more bipartisan bills than any governor in Maine history,” Reinholt said. “He has been unwilling to compromise in any way, shape or form.”
LePage vetoed more than 180 bills during his first term as governor, including bipartisan state budget bills in 2013 and 2014. Both budget vetoes were overridden by the Legislature.
Reinholt called Sorensen’s statement “another distraction from LePage’s record and another example of not giving the whole story.”