An age-old political question — is the Maine Legislature too big? — cropped up at a recent forum for the gubernatorial candidates.

The Bath event covered a lot of ground, giving those who crammed into the room a good chance to get to know the four candidates who participated — independent Kevin Scott, independent Shawn Moody, independent Eliot Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell. Republican Paul LePage was not there, citing a previous engagement in Presque Isle.

Toward the end of the two-hour forum, an audience member asked the candidates whether they thought the Legislature had too many members. Several attempts by lawmakers to cut the size of the House and/or Senate in recent years have failed, as did an attempt to combine the two chambers into one. The House has 151 members and the Senate has 35.

Here’s what the candidates said:

Moody: “Let’s reduce the time they are in session so they’ll prioritize solutions.” He also said they need to spend more time back home with constituents, particularly considering the fact that voters have rejected three recent bills passed in the Legislature (beverage taxes to support Dirigo, gay marriage and tax reform)

Scott said regardless of the size of the Legislature, Mainers are still going to have problems with jobs and education. He said after he’s elected, he’ll study the Legislature and “come back to you with a solution.”

Cutler said he supports the unicameral idea because the Legislature could then be an “appropriate size.”

And Mitchell, who noted she was the only one in the race who has served in the Legislature, said less than 1 percent of the state budget pays for legislative costs. “Let’s not get lost in the weeds when we need to create jobs.” However, she has voted for bills to reduce the size of the House and Senate. And, she said it’s not up to the governor to tell the Legislature — a separate branch of government — how many weeks it can meet.

WINDSOR FAIR MILKING CONTEST

If you’re looking for something fun to do on Sunday, check out the “political pull” at the Windsor Fair.

Various municipal and state level candidates have been invited to participate in the event to see which one of them can “pull” the most milk. The winner gets a blue ribbon, and of course, bragging rights among the farm crowd.

Organizers aren’t sure who will show up. The event is set for 5:30 p.m. in the Prime Show Barn.

AGRICULTURAL FORUM TUESDAY

Speaking of farms and farmers, all five gubernatorial candidates are expected to be in a forum on Tuesday organized by the Agricultural Council of Maine.

Each candidate gets 45 minutes to talk about things affecting the agricultural industry, such as workforce, taxation and energy costs. There will be time for audience questions.

It’s a public forum set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine facility at 205 Church Hill Road in Augusta.

THREE WRITE-INS SIGNED UP

As we reported here in July, former Auburn Mayor John Jenkins is considering a write-in campaign as an independent for the office of governor.

As it turns out, three other people have already signed up with the state to run as write-ins in the governor’s race.

Edwin S. Braley of Portland, Beverly Cooper-Pete of Standish and J. Martin Vachon of Mariaville have filed the paperwork with the state to become declared write-in candidates. All have filed as independents.

SHUTDOWN DAY ON FRIDAY

Heading into the Labor Day Weekend, the state will shut down on Friday and remain closed until Tuesday.

This is the 13th of 20 state mandated shutdown days that run through May 27, 2011.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

[email protected]