The Bolt to the Blaine House ’10 – Matt Jacobson (R)

Four Maine gubernatorial candidates have been covered so far. Alex Hammer, Bruce Poliquin, Lynne Williams, and Steve Rowe have had their time in the sun. Now Matt Jacobson (R) gets his chance.

Jacobson already has made a strong digital presence on the web. Jacobson exemplifies a web 2.0 candidate, as does most of his opponents. There is a website, blog, twitter, facebook, and myspace page for the candidate. Each is on par with the competition, though from a design point of view both Republican candidates at this point have the best looking websites. I’ll leave speculation as to why that is to others.

As a writer for Maine Biz, it’s no surprise that Jacobson’s focus is on business. All of the issue pages of his site are either overtly business related or link their topics to business. Not that this is a bad thing. With Maine struggling to emerge from recession, the loss of manufacturing industries like paper, and recover from years of mass youth migration Jacobson’s tactic is a wise one. Jacobson’s blog, a port of his Maine Biz writings, provides a wealth of information on his business stance. I’m going to focus only on Jacobson’s website at this point.

The site Jacobson has constructed is comprehensive. Coverage of issues is broken down into five categories; jobs and economy, education, spending and taxes, energy, and the environment. I’ll touch on a few of those.

Jacobson pushes for a smaller, learner government in order to lower spending. To get the best grasp of Jacobson’s plan for reorganizing government one need only look as far as the recent school district consolidation. Jacobson is looking to consolidate services the government provides. The engine of government will be tuned and all those useless aftermarket mods your cousin said would get you more power will be yanked out. Jacobson hopes his tuneup job will leave us with “Fewer yet more efficient units of government dedicated to higher quality performance is the key – just as it is in every budget across Maine”

I can say with confidence that Matt Jacobson fits the fiscal conservative mold to a tee. His stance on taxes and spending and pro-business attitude make that choice a no brainer. I hesitate to label him a moderate. There is little information available on his social leanings at this point.

You may be saying now well what makes Jacobson any different from Republican challenger Bruce Poliquin? They both in favor of lower taxes, less regulations, and pro-business. The differences are subtle, but they are there if you look. Take their environmental positions for instance. Poliquin advocates a partnership of ecology and economy. Jacobson too believes that economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive as well, but if push came to shove the economy would come first. Jacobson says on his website, “Where environmental and land use rules and regulations become unnecessary barriers preventing responsible growth of jobs and communities, I’ll make sure those barriers are taken away.” Yes, Maine’s environmental regulations can be excessive, but Poliquin illustrates what some of them made possible. “When I was a boy in Waterville, if you fell in the Kennebec River you had to get a tetanus shot. We should all be proud of the years of hard work to restore many of our natural assets. We cannot go backwards in the protection of our environment.”

Here’s how I look at the two candidates. Poliquin is pro Maine families. The crux of Poliquin’s campaign is his “plan to help Maine families.” Poliquin’s policies are to advance the quality of life for Maine families first. The fact that they aid business as well are almost secondary. Jacobson is pro-business first and foremost. This is not to say that Jacobson is anti-family. No candidate in their right mind would even elude to that. Jacobson’s policies advance the cause of business in Maine, which incidentally helps Maine families.

Does this mean Jacobson has no appeal to Maine voters? Of course not. Running the government is much like running a business. Jacobson could leverage this point in the primaries, driving home the economic state of Maine. There are two hurdles to face. Do Republicans want a Jack Welch type business man as their government CEO or do they want a jack-of-all-trades? If Jacobson should win his parties nomination, can Jacobson bet that the state at large is not sick of business types altogether?

So much of politics is all about spin. If Jacobson can spin his business experience, which is vast, to his advantage it could spell victory in the primary. Then possibly the Blaine House. It wont be an easy fight for Jacobson by any means. But if his military and business resume proves anything it’s that he’ll give the competition a fight.

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