Peter Mills enters the race

Republican State Senator Peter Mills will run for Maine governor. Mills will run as a Republican, challenging Bruce Poliquin, Matt Jacobson, and Les Otten for the GOP nomination. I’ve been scooped on this story by just about everyone, including the Augusta Insider, Pine Tree Politics, and As Maine Goes.

The Augusta Insider reports that since Mills is choosing to run GOP he will not be able to turn Independent should he not receive his party’s nomination. Mills is the first GOP candidate to come from a political background, possibly making him a prime target in the primary. Mills is also the first GOP candidate to file for public funding.

Pine Tree Politics, who just yesterday pondered a Mills run, wrote on Mills announcement and his chances of winning the GOP primary and the Blaine House.

from Pine Tree Politics:

Mills’ greatest argument was that he was a socially tolerant, fiscally conservative candidate. I have long argued that this is exactly where Maine voters are ideologically – they don’t really want the government pushing social policy, and they really want some fiscal relief and sound management – and he could have filled that quite easily.

But with tax reform and now healthcare reform, Mills is blowing a hole in the idea that he is a fiscal conservative. Many Maine Republicans are left wondering if he is center-left on social issues, and now appears to be center-left on fiscal issues as well, why should he deserve the support of the grassroots?

Comments on the Mills announcement thread at As Maine Goes seems to support PTP’s argument.

I haven’t seen a website with a solid platform page, though Mills does have one from his previous senate run, so I wont go in depth on his run yet. I will say this, which I also posted as a comment on PTP – Maine Republicans are much closer to the middle than other states. A Republican in Maine is not necessarily the same as one in Utah. Maine GOPers seem to hold strong to the ideals laid down in the Goldwater era; low taxes, fiscal responsibility, and small government. When in comes to social issues I get the feeling that ME GOPers are more open than most, taking an almost libertarian approach of “stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours.

I think that could give Mills an edge. Even with his recent alignment with the left on gay marriage, health care, and tax reform, Mills record sits pretty squarely in a fiscal conservative social moderate hole. This could leave Mills sitting pretty when it comes to courting support from the moderate and blue dog Democrats in Maine.

Mills is not a lock in this dynamic election.

from Pine Tree Politics:

If any of the three business guys can become the consensus “fiscal conservative” choice, I think it will be a dog fight and they would have a rather big chance to knock off the big dog.

Personally, though, I think they’ll all split the vote, and Mills will be fighting for a small share himself. I see the 1994 eight way Republican nomination fight that Susan Collins won repeating itself.

Nothing is set in this election. Still anyone’s game, and what a game it’s shaping up to be. I guess I picked a good time to start writing on politics!

The Bolt to the Blaine House ’10 – Rosa Scarchelli (D)

Now that she’s announced her candidacy, it’s time to find out what Rosa Scarcelli is all about.

Yesterday I mentioned that the color scheme on Scarcelli’s website were a bit jarring. Not that it has much barring on the election, Matt Gagnon at Pine Tree Politics has an interesting comment on that strange matching of orange and blue.

from Pine Tree Politics:

Scarcelli’s website is a little odd – not because it looks bad (its decent enough), but more because its color scheme looks like something out of a political race in Virginia with its orange and blue accents (something very common down here in my neck of the woods). Usually in Maine you see variations of blue and green – so it looks a tad out of place, but then again should I really be picking on color schemes?

I can hear the shouts already. “She’s from away! She’s from away! Don’t let her within 50 miles of Augusta!” Of course those who would focus on that probably still think Obama is not an American citizens and we never landed on the Moon. Personally I just find it to be an interesting fact, much in the same way I enjoy Mental Floss. Maybe Scarcelli chose the scheme to highlight her difference from the other Democratic contenders, who have all been involved in politics in one way or another. Only she knows for sure.

As Pine Tree Politics points out, Scarcelli is already in the game with a Tweet and Facebook. Scarcelli’s Tweet already has 138 followers and 67 updates, while she is following 123 tweets. Steve Rowe, whose been in this thing for a while now, still only has 114 followers and a meager 3 updates. Democratic challenger Dawn Hill unaccounted for on Twitter. Scarcelli’s Tweet is an interesting blend of the personal and political. Everything from family outings to personal opinions to Maine political news is there. Some of that may sound trivial, but I argue it’s relevant to creating the well rounded image of a real person, not just a face on a poster. For someone who is running as a political outsider Scarcelli is hitting the right buttons with her Tweet.

Steve Rowe still leads in Facebook followers, 616 to Scarcelli’s 247. Though Rowe’s Facebook seems to have a lot of supporter commenting, Scarcelli is using Facebook as another way to present her platform. Scarcelli posts links to articles in MaineBiz, videos of speeches, and other announcements. There isn’t a whole lot to look at yet, but I’m sure that will change.

On to Scarcelli’s credentials.

Scarcelli, like many others in this election, does not come from a political background, but a business one. Scarcelli’s business experience differs from someone like Matt Jacobson or Bruce Poliquin. Jacobson and Poliquin’s experience are in running large organizations and investment in bringing business and jobs to Maine. Scarcelli’s background is rooted in a smaller scale public service business – providing low cost housing to those in need. Is this experience better or preferable than other candidates’ business knowledge? That depends on which voter you talk to. Personally any leadership experience is a plus for a candidate. Then again, how good a leader they actually were cannot be ignored either.

How about Scarcelli’s positions on the issues.

Scarcelli’s recipe for job creation is not all that varied from anything we’ve heard yet. Make Maine business friendly through tax incentives and trim the fat in Augusta, operate more efficiently. Not a bad plan, which is why almost everyone is using it. Scarcelli also advocates a reinvestment and refitting of our current failing industries such as logging and fishing. You’ve got to spend money to make money right.

Scarcelli’s education platform is nothing new either, just maintain current support of K-12. However, her commitment to link community colleges with businesses is interesting. Community colleges should be relevant options for those who don’t wish, or cannot at that time attend a four year school. Linking degree programs directly to employers will give graduates a leg up when they enter the already crowded workforce. And I can’t say I disagree with Scarcelli’s assertion that the UMaine system needs an overhaul.

Energy and environmental issues, though not as power as jobs or the economy, will still play an important role in this election. Scarcelli minces no words on her environmental policy. ” I will accept no compromise when it comes to enforcing our environmental laws and regulations.” ,Scarcelli says on her website. Before you start to think Scarcelli is a Green in disguise, Scarchelli doesn’t reject business over environment. Scarcelli believes job growth and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive. That is the thrust of Scarcelli’s energy policy as well. “And we can work with the federal government to encourage research and development of alternative energy sources such as offshore wind, solar and tidal energy – part of new green economy that creates jobs in Maine that can’t be shipped overseas.”

There will be a few questions Democrats will need to ask themselves before the upcoming primary: Is Steve Rowe too close to the old guard to win the state or does his experience and name carry him? Is an Augusta outsider a safer bet? Scarcelli could be that outsider Democrats are looking for in their nominee.

Unemployement rates hit new lows

Despite reassurances that the economy is improving, the jobless rates have not turned the corner. NASDAQ reported yesterday that hiring is still a challenge.

from NASDAQ:

“There is no question that the job market poses severe challenges,” said Alan Krueger, Treasury Department assistant secretary for economic policy, in a speech to the American Academy of Actuaries. “But the increased stability in financial markets and support for aggregate demand from the [Financial Stability Plan] and [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] provide indications that the rescue is underway.”

“Severe challenge” doesn’t quite highlight the unemployment mire some states are in. Reports late last week say that 15 states and D.C. have topped or exceeded 10% unemployment. The national rate, now at a 26 year high of 9.6%, will likely pass 10% by the end of 2009.

Michigan, slugged in the gut by failing automakers, has reached 15.2% unemployment. Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and D.C. are also at or over 10% unemployment, but trail Michigan’s high.

Maine has fared better than the rest of the country. Maine’s current jobless rate is 8.2% as of June. This is down from a high of 8.9% back in February of 2009. Maine is performing better or close to most of our New England neighbors: Connecticut 8.1%, Massachusetts 8.6%, Rhode Island 12.4%, New Hampshire 6.8%. Cumberland County has the lowest unemployment rate at 6.6% while Piscataquis County holds the state high of 12.8%. The discrepancy can be attributed to the decline in logging, the paper industry, and products manufacturing which the Piscataquis County economy relies on at this point.

This is the climate our next Governor will be elected into. Good luck. Whoever gets elected, just don’t tip the boat over. That’s all I ask.