November 21, 2019
Contributors Latest News | 'Sea Serpent' | Bangor Metro | Impeachment Inquiry | Today's Paper

Blame Democrats, not me, for Paul LePage victories

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Candidates for governor (from left) independent Eliot Cutler, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage greet each other on stage before a televised debate in Augusta in this Oct. 15, 2014, file photo.

In his Jan. 30 BDN column, David Farmer used me as a strawman for his criticism of “rich dudes” who might run for president of the United States, governor of Maine or, implicitly, any other public office — unless they run under the banner of Farmer’s Democratic Party.

I stand with the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: Farmer “is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” We need to repair the record following Farmer’s butchering of it.

First, Farmer asserts that I “twice delivered the Blaine House” to former Gov. Paul LePage by running as an independent in 2010 and 2014. The facts demonstrate otherwise. In 2010, I finished a close second to LePage, losing by fewer than 10,000 votes or about 1.7 percent. The Democrat in the race, Libby Mitchell, finished a distant third, with barely more than half the votes that were cast for me. Had Mitchell endorsed me in the final days of that campaign, as former Gov. Angus King did, there is little doubt in the minds of most observers that I would have won — saving Maine from what Farmer decries as the “scourge” of LePage.

Second, in 2014, Farmer asserts that I made clear a “ preference for LePage” over Farmer’s candidate, Mike Michaud. I never said or did any such thing. What I said — and believe to this day — is that neither LePage nor Michaud had been or would be a good governor.

Finally, Farmer suggests that had I not run in 2014, Michaud would have been elected governor. There are no facts or data that support that speculation. Indeed, the two organizations that did exit polling on the day of the 2014 election concluded exactly the opposite. NBC found that if only Michaud and LePage had been on the ballot, LePage would still have won. And the Center for Election Science reported that if ranked-choice voting had been in place for that election, its polling showed that I would have won — and that I easily would have beaten either LePage or Michaud in a head-to-head contest.

I told Michaud, in a meeting with him in Washington before he decided to run, that he couldn’t win, whether I was on the ballot or not, but that I surely would win if he didn’t run. Farmer and his fellow Democrats in Maine couldn’t stomach the idea, in either 2010 or 2014, that an independent was more electable and would have been a better governor than the Democratic Party candidate, and the consequence of their obstinate myopia was that LePage was governor for eight long years. That’s on them, not me.

Eliot R. Cutler of Cape Elizabeth was an independent candidate for governor of Maine in 2010 and 2014.



Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like