The Gubernatorial Race Is On
Fifteen months before the 2010 gubernatorial election and ten months before the primary, the race for Maine's governor already has more than a dozen candidates, with several more heavy-hitters on the horizon.
In this space, I’ve already published interviews with Republicans Matt Jacobson, Peter Mills and Les Otten and Green Lynne Williams (I promise I’ll get to some Democrats very soon) but that’s just scratching the surface of the race.
There is one more Republican in the mix and several more apparently considering a run.
Bruce Poliquin was one of the first to announce for governor, but entered the race without much of a splash, probably because he’s even less well-known in political circles than his fellow Republican businessmen-turned-candidates, Les Otten and Matt Jacobson. Like Jacobson and Otten, Poliquin cites his business credentials and experience as proof that he can bring jobs to the state. He also touts his upbringing in Waterville and education at Andover and Harvard as gubernatorial qualifications.
Poliquin is campaigning hard, crisscrossing the state by bus, posts a weekly video update on YouTube, and raked in an impressive fundraising total during the first reporting period (although most of it came from his own pocket).
Republican legislative leaders Josh Tardy and Kevin Raye are also reportedly considering entering the race and Waterville Mayor Paul LePage said in early April that he was considering a run and would announce his intentions later that month. That announcement hasn't yet been made.
On the Democratic side, the field has a couple heavyweights, several lesser contenders, and a few potential candidates still sitting on the sidelines.
Former Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe has been running for governor for months, and has been working to lock down support in Democratic circles. He’s well-known among those who follow Maine politics and has an impressive resume that includes a degree from West Point and military service, an MBA and a law degree, and time in the legislature and a term as Speaker of the Maine House. Rowe’s Web site is less than impressive and contains the unfortunate pun “Women Rowe-ing for Steve” but a graphic on the front page promises that a new site is coming soon.
Rowe built up some important early support by getting into the race early, but he angered some progressives with his decision not to run as a clean elections candidate, and his head start is now over as several other candidates have entered the race.
Maine Senate President Libby Mitchell is the latest candidate to enter the race, and brings with her a wealth of political experience. She has served in the legislature for more than twenty years, including a term as Speaker of the House. This session she became the first woman in the country to hold the top post in both bodies of a state legislature.
Mitchell has said that entering the race was a difficult decision, as it means that she won’t be able to seek a fourth term in the Senate. She obviously believes that she has enough of a shot at the Blaine House to make it worth giving up another term as Senate president.
Rosa Scarcelli is a political newcomer but comes from a Wilton family with a long history in Democratic politics. She’s the owner of Stanford Management, a firm specializing in affordable housing. She seems to be attempting to be the “jobs” candidate in the democratic field, and touts her management experience as proof she can improve the state’s economy. She has a well-produced video on her Web site which uses the words “hope” and “change” an inordinate amount.
Dawn Hill is a second-term state legislator from York and owner of a dog day care center. Her campaign stumbled early when her private announcement of her intentions to friends was picked up by the Portsmouth Herald, which meant the first announcement of her run for Maine’s governor appeared in a New Hampshire newspaper. She got back on track with a real announcement soon after.
Donna Dion is a former Biddeford mayor who claims some non-profit and volunteer experience. She’s not a serious contender.
Maine Conservation Commissioner and former congressional candidate Pat McGowan and Economic Development Commissioner and former House Speaker John Richardson may also be considering entering the race, as is Auburn State Representative Brian Bolduc.
The other gubernatorial candidates, many of them independents, haven’t made much of a splash as of yet, but with no incumbent or heir apparent in either party, they may still have a chance to make a difference in the race. For a full list of declared candidates, visit http://www.mainecampaignfinance.com.