Young politicos tout the influence of new media in elections and politics in general. From the Augusta Insider’s Gubernatorial Twitter Primary to Pine Tree Politics’ piece on the “new media war” to my own critiques of candidates’ websites, those of us in the net generation are excited to see how all these new tools will impact the game. The 2010 gubernatorial elections will be the first to feature YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter prominently. While many of us hope to see some bold things from politicians on social networking, it remains to be seen if they can truly win an election. (more…)
Senate President Libby Mitchell filed yesterday to run for Governor. The South Carolina born, Vassalboro senator will join 5 other Democrats and 15 contenders overall. Senator Mitchell has released a statement on her run, which has been provided in full below. (more…)
The Augusta Insider spoke the other day on the challenge for independent candidates in Maine. As the Augusta Insider points out, even though Maine is known as independent friendly, it takes a certain mix of qualities for an independent candidate to win in Maine. The Augusta Insider cited fundraising ability, name recognition, being part of a major party in the past, and major party voter satisfaction with their own parties as ingredients to seeing an independent in the Blaine House. (more…)
(Cross-Posted @ Augusta Insider)
Pine Tree Politics has released a statement from Senator Mills on his run:
I am running for Governor with a plan to fix state government and rebuild Maine’s economy. Throughout my 15 years of service in the state legislature I’ve sounded the fiscal alarm that we are now hearing loud and clear. Our state spends more than it can afford and gets poor value for that dollar. The recession has made this frighteningly obvious. Now more than ever we need an accountable government, one that measures the results of the services it delivers.
There are a few things that set Peter Mills apart from the other Republican gubernatorial candidates. Perhaps the most obvious is Mills’ legislative experience. While the three other GOP candidates have business backgrounds, Mills has been in the Maine Legislature since 1994. Mills is also the only candidate to have run for governor before: He lost to fellow State Senator Chandler Woodcock in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary by only 3.4%. The lessons learned from Mills’ extensive campaign experience and his work in the legislature will undoubtedly shape his run. “Things have deteriorated in the last four years,” Mills said in an interview. “Most of the things that I pointed to [in 2006] have gotten worse, and part of that is the economy and part of that is the state.”
Since Senator Mills has been in the legislature, we have the advantage of the early use of Project Vote Smart (for other candidates, we’ll just have to wait until they fill out the Vote Smart survey). Using Vote Smart we can look beyond the speeches and soundbites to interest group ratings and legislative votes grouped by category. Mills’ social ratings on Vote Smart vary. Planned Parenthood has given Mills consistently high rantings. The NRA has also consistently given Mills an “A”. The Maine Education Association, Maine People’s Alliance, and League of Conservation Voters’ ratings have varied over Mills’ legislative career. On the economic side of things Maine AFL-CIO’s ratings went from low to high over Mills’ legislative career, while Mills’ ratings from business organizations such as the Maine Economic Research Institute and the National Federation for Independent Business have become more positive.
Senator Mills’ Vote Smart ratings would place him center or center left socially and to the right fiscally. As Pine Tree Politics has noted, recent votes and actions by Senator Mills may point to another conclusion. Mills’ support for recent tax reform legislation and healthcare reform point to a shift to the left. However, when his whole voting record is viewed, the vote for tax reform seems more like an outlier on the fiscal conservative test. Since 2006 Mills has voted right on many issues. Mills voted against the 2006 minimum wage increase and teacher minimum wage increase . Mills voted against the recent alcohol and soda tax. If Mills can keep focus off his vote for the LD 1088 tax reforms, or put a positive spin on it, his recent record should speak for itself. Mills should be able to convince voters that he is still the same fiscal conservative he once was.
Mills also opposed expansion of Dirigo Health in 2006 and earlier this year. Indeed, Mills has consistently opposed Dirigo, which makes his appearance at the healthcare reform rally all the more interesting. On education, Senator Mills voted against the citizen-initiated repeal of school consolidation and for charter schools.
Peter Mills’ website layout is not terribly flashy, but it is intuitive. Pine Tree Politics mentioned this earlier, but it bares repeating: What social networking options does Mills offer? Well you can join his Facebook page…or you can join his Facebook page. In this age of instant connection through the internet, that is just not enough. Nearly all of the candidates so far, Republican or otherwise, have not only a Facebook presence, but are also on several other social networking sites, from Twitter to LinkedIn to YouTube. In a sparsely populated state like Maine, these new media tools allow candidates to reach everyone from Kittery to Fort Kent in an instant. Not maintaining a presence on these services when your opponents do could be a serious misstep. As I’ve said before, I’d be surprised if candidates neglected any corner of the internet they could spread their message to. I’m sure Senator Mills will branch out as the campaign progresses.
I have examined several candidate’s website statements on how they would address certain issues in Maine. Mills’ “Plan” differs from just about everything I’ve read so far in that he takes a direct approach with his platform: “Here is a problem. Here is the solution”. Mills presents the problems facing Maine and his solutions briefly and clearly. Mills has presented his platform more effectively than any candidate so far. In our soundbite world, Mills and Twitter could be a match made in Heaven.
The Plan itself is divided into two sections, “Fix the State” and “Rebuild Maine”. The contents of Fix the State reinforce Mills’ recently challenged reputation as a fiscal conservative. Mills advocates accountability in in Maine’s budget, health care, human services and education. Reducing Medicade abuse, cutting duplicate public works services, and pay-as-you-go state budgets are key to Mills’ plan. Even though Mills appeared at the recent health care rally, he advocates something less liberal than what we’ve seen from Washington as of late. Senator Mills wishes to revive a competitive insurance market in Maine, quite distant from a lot of what is being talked about in health care lately. However, Mills does recommend expanding some forms of public health including health clinics in schools, rural health centers with sliding scale fees, and nutrition and health education. Though this may be too liberal for some, Mills’ position on health care is sure to grab the attention of moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, and many Independents.
The “Rebuilding Maine” section focuses on the economy. As anyone who has driven in Maine can clearly see, our roads are a mess. Beyond the normal wear and tear of harsh winters, many roads and bridges are in a horrible state of disrepair. Cell and broadband coverage are lagging as well. In a state as rural as Maine, lacking in those areas hurts. Mills recognizes these issues, pushing for a comprehensive plan to bring our roads up to par and eliminate cell phone and broadband gaps within five years. Ambitious, but necessary. How can Maine expect to attract business if we can’t even show we are willing to keep up the networks they need to function?
Senator Mills goes on to say that by getting a handle on taxes and removing some regulations Maine can attract new business and revitalize the ones we already have. “In some cases, all it takes is for government to move out of the way.” says Mills. Mills supports bringing cheaper power to Maine through alternative energy and energy partnerships with our Canadian neighbors.
After reviewing Senator Mills’ record and plans if he should be elected, Mills seems to have remained the socially tolerant, fiscally conservative Republican he has always been. Mills’ recent courting of the left, as his plan shows, are not the beginnings of an Arlan Spector-esque dodge to the progressives. If Mills continues to hammer home his roots, and clearly explain his recent opinions, he will be a strong contender for the GOP nomination and the Blaine House – especially in a highly fractured field. This match is far from over however. Other GOP contenders will most certainly be stiff competition for Mills. We’ll have to wait until next June to see how Maine Republicans feel about the senator from Cornville.
The Maine government has just made acquiring an absentee ballot even easier. The state launched it’s new online absentee ballot request service. Maine Today is reporting that 189 cities and towns are participating in the program. This 2009 service is a upgrade from 2008, the first year online absentee ballot requests began. When the service began only 52 municipalities participated.
President Obama made a huge investment in early voting and absentee as did Sen. McCain in the 2008 election. Many early voting polls showed then Sen. Obama leading Sen. McCain. Though many had probably decided who they would vote for by mid October, when most of the polls were taken, early voting in Obama’s favor may have given him an extra boost with voters.
Now that absentee voting is even easier for many Mainers, will gubernatorial candidates take advantage? Can we expect to see candidates spending extra time in communities supporting absentee voting? In a close race, it could spell victory for those who invest.
You can sign up to receive your absentee ballot for 09 here.
Susan Cover at the Kennebec Journal/Maine Sentinel pointed out an interesting statistic that I had never stopped to consider. Maine has never had a woman governor. Maine is one of twenty-seven states and one of only two New England states (Rhode Island being the other) to have never elected a woman as governor.
This election could, as Cover points out, make history. At this point the list of female candidates includes three Democrats (Donna Dion, Dawn Hill, and Rosa Scarcelli) and one Green Party candidate (Lynne Williams).
Not a large change from the previous numbers. Matt Jacobson continues to dominate Twitter in number of followers and massive growth. It looks as though the Jacobson will not be giving up his crown as King of Twitter anytime soon.
Newcomer Rosa Scarcelli make an impressive entrance onto the Twitter field. Scarcelli has come right out of the gate with 130 followers, following 131, and 71 tweets. The puts her at the head of the pack in the Dems and third overall. I’m going to give Scarcelli the “Best Start from a Newbie” award.
Here are the current stats from Augusta Insider:
Independent Alex Hammer (@AlexHammer) is following 401, has 337 followers, and 620 Tweets; -31 Followers.
Democrat Dawn Hill (@DawnHillNow) is following 20, has 12 followers, and 1 Tweet.
Republican Matt Jacobson (@jacobson4gov) is following 695, has 968 followers, and 65 Tweets; +214 Followers.
Republican Les Otten (@LesOtten) is following 0, has 40 followers, and 1 Tweets; +10 Followers.
Republican Bruce Poliquin (@BruceForME) is following 85, has 92 followers, and 110 Tweets; -3 Followers.
Democrat Steven Rowe (@Steven_Rowe) is following 0, has 121 followers, and 5 Tweets; +11 Followers.
Democrat Rosa Scarcelli (@rosascarcelli) is following 131, has 130 followers, and 71 Tweets.
Green Independent Lynne Williams (@Lynne4Governor) is following 11, has 38 followers, and 18 Tweets;+2 Followers.
Augusta Insider points out that Peter Mills and Donna Dion are absent from Twitter at this point. Mills cited a Yahoo News Story (TMT Too Much Twitter?) as evidence for why he avoids Twitter. Probably in jest. I’d be surprised if any serious candidate kept away from Twitter entirely at this point.
I got to thinking today how many incumbents or incumbent parties have won the Blaine House. I started with the election of Democrat Joseph Brennan in 1978. There is a strange pattern. Every governor stays in office for their two term limit. Brennan, McKernan, King, and Baldacci all fit this pattern. At the end of the incumbent parties lost the Blaine House. Democrat to Republican to Independent to Democrat.
If the current model holds then the Democrats may be in hot water this election season. Still, like the it’s weather, Maine’s politics is bound to surprise.
In a post last week the Irregular Times questioned if Green Party candidate Patrick Quinlan is actually serious about his run for governor. When you compare what he has done so far with the legwork that Lynne Williams has been putting in the answer, as Irregular Times points out, becomes clear.
from Irregular Times:
Williams has a campaign website that solicits donors and volunteers. She has an active Facebook group and (although I don’t understand the need for or substance of this) twitters about campaign activities as well.
Lynne Williams has submitted her July 2009 Pre-Election Semiannual campaign finance report, which was released to the public this afternoon. The report shows 31 contributions of more than $50, none more than $100, including Tom Hayden (yes, that Tom Hayden).
Patrick Quinlan has a website, but that website makes no mention of him running for public office (the website promotes his three novels and one co-written memoir). Quinlan’s MySpace page similarly makes no mention of a gubernatorial run. A blog of his mentions him “thinking about running for Governor of Maine” and “whether I ultimately run for Governor or not,” as late as June 23 of this year, long after Lynne Williams’ campaign was effectively up and running. Quinlan’s required Pre-Election Semiannual campaign finance report has not yet been posted.
There’s a lot of time left in the 2010 election cycle, but judging by the status of candidacies today, it looks as though there may be just one major Green Party candidate for Governor of Maine in 2010.
It’s true. I tried my damnedest a while back to write something about Quinlan, but there just isn’t anything out there. Unless you are curious about his most recent tome that is. Quinlan does have a blog, with two posts; one about his book and the other about peak oil.
Maybe Quinlan is just hanging back, seeing what moves his competitors make first. A little strategery maybe? My gut tells me Williams can probably put away the Pepto and relax.