AUGUSTA – The nine Democrats and Republicans no longer running for governor have not wasted any time pining about what might have been had they won their parties’ nominations three months ago.
They’re relaunching once-dormant websites, raising money for their political parties and settling back into more normal lives now that the demands of their campaigns have subsided. And some are looking toward a political future in that coy “I’m not ruling anything out” sort of way.
Although it seems a lifetime ago, it was only June when voters in the party primaries had lots of options. Ultimately, the Republicans picked Waterville Mayor Paul LePage as their nominee with a commanding 37 percent take in a seven-man field. Democrats voted in large numbers for state Senate President Libby Mitchell, giving her 34 percent of the vote in a four-person race.
While LePage and Mitchell are busy competing against three independents who will be on the Nov. 2 ballot — Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott — their former rivals have moved on to other things.
ROSA SCARCELLI, DEMOCRAT
Rosa Scarcelli of Portland, a Democrat who finished third in her party primary, recently relaunched her campaign website — rosaforme.com — with a blog that promises to be “a place to continue sharing my common-sense, nonpartisan perspective on a broad range of issues.”
“I’ve had a very busy fall,” Scarcelli said in a phone interview from a Democratic Leadership Council summit in Chicago. “I’m very interested in how we can make Maine better and stronger.”
The 40-year-old, who finished higher than expected in her first run for office, is back to focusing on her affordable housing company, Stanford Management. She will soon write an opinion column in the Bangor Daily News, and be a guest host on WGAN radio. She’s also involved with a national organization called No Labels, which will launch later this year. She described it as a “group of civically minded people interested not in left or right, but in good, smart policy.”
When it comes to her political future, Scarcelli said she knows that luck and timing play a big role in political races.
“I would love to serve if I could,” she said, adding that she also wants to find other ways to make a difference. “I’m not going to spend the rest of my life waiting for the next seat.”
STEVE ABBOTT, REPUBLICAN
That sentiment — of wanting to be involved — is shared by Republican Steve Abbott, another young up-and-comer. Abbott, 48, also of Portland, finished fourth in the Republican primary.
In January, Abbott, a lawyer, left his job as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to run for governor. He recently took a job as the interim athletic director at the University of Maine, where his father, Walt, served as a professor and coach for more than 50 years. He thinks the interim position will last through June. After that, “I don’t have plans,” he said.
Like Scarcelli, this was Abbott’s first run for office. He described it as a positive experience, but said it did take a personal and financial toll.
“I would run again, but I also would say I’m not somebody who’s sitting around plotting what my next campaign is going to be,” he said.
LES OTTEN, REPUBLICAN
Otten, 61, of Greenwood, is involved in a host of endeavors, including developing a new golf product, speaking engagements, renewable energy businesses and work with the Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness.
After finishing second in the primary, he hasn’t forgotten Republicans who are still running for office. He’s working with Senate Minority Leader Kevin Raye, R-Perry, to raise money in hopes that Republicans can take control of the state Senate. Currently, Democrats have a 20-15 majority.
“I’m very much committed to the philosophy that Maine has great opportunity, but our job policies are still not conducive to job creation in Maine,” he said.
When it comes to his political future, Otten said, “I am a young guy.” But he didn’t particularly like his first experience with politics, at least in regard to what he calls “headline politics” and negative campaigning.
“I am exceptionally taken aback by American politics in general,” he said.
PATRICK MCGOWAN, DEMOCRAT
McGowan, 54, of Hallowell, who left his position as commissioner of the Department of Conservation to run for governor, finished fourth in the primary. He has since launched a consulting firm called Energy and Environment LLC. He wants to provide guidance to groups in the renewable energy field, and he wants to continue to use his experience as conservation commissioner to help broker land conservation deals.
A former state lawmaker, McGowan doesn’t want to do much lobbying at the State House. He said he continues to love politics, but isn’t sure if he’d run again.
“It’s a very, very tough thing to do,” he said. “It’s tough on your family, your wallet, your personal life.”
PETER MILLS, REPUBLICAN
Mills, who gave up a chance for re-election to the state Senate when he entered the Republican gubernatorial primary, said it’s the first election year since 1994 that he isn’t out knocking on doors.
Four years ago, he finished second in the primary but was able to get back into the fall Senate race. This time around, after a third-place finish, he said he will continue to work on issues that are important to him — just not as an elected official.
“I’ll be lobbying for things I care about and certainly working to help any administration that seems to want it,” said Mills, 67, of Cornville.
Those issues include reform of the state pension system and implementation of the federal health-care reform law. A true policy wonk, Mills said he’s already thinking about the next state budget, which must be issued from the new governor to the Legislature by Feb. 11.
Mills said he may consider a House or Senate run in the future if a seat opens up.
BRUCE POLIQUIN, REPUBLICAN
Poliquin, 56, of Georgetown, hasn’t left the political realm. He’s working full time for LePage, filling in as a surrogate when needed and helping to raise money.
“After the primary, I thought long and hard about where I was going next,” Poliquin said. “I got into this to help the state. The decision I made was to stay involved.”
Poliquin called from Cleveland, where he was attending a State Policy Network conference. A business owner and manager, Poliquin said he thought about signing up with different think tanks or helping on a congressional campaign. But he decided to help LePage get elected.
Poliquin, who finished sixth, said it took him two months to recover from the primary.
“I found it was very, very difficult to always be on,” he said. “It’s seven days a week, 24/7. It’s not only what you think, it’s how you say it.”
When asked about his political future, Poliquin said he’s focused on helping LePage get to the Blaine House.
STEVE ROWE, DEMOCRAT
Rowe, 57, a former Maine attorney general, is practicing law with Verrill Dana in Portland. The second-place finisher in the Democratic primary, Rowe is also a former speaker of the Maine House. He said he will soon launch a mediation practice at the law firm.
During the past few months, Rowe, of Portland, spent time camping. “I was able to spend a substantial amount of time this summer with my family,” he said.
Rowe recently appeared at a campaign event for Mitchell, saying he fully supports her bid for the Blaine House. He said he wouldn’t rule out a future run for office.
“My interest in public policy has not waned, even though I’m in the private sector,” he said.
MATT JACOBSON, REPUBLICAN
Jacobson, 49, of Cumberland, said he took the rest of the week off after the primary on Tuesday, June 8, but headed back to work the following Monday. As president of Maine & Company, he works to recruit and retain jobs in the state.
“My board was fabulous,” he said. “They gave me a leave of absence so I could run for governor.”
Jacobson, who finished last in the primary, said he doesn’t think he would run for office again. The jokester among the field, he loved being on the campaign trail and the speaking appearances. The fundraising? Not so much.
“I don’t like raising money,” he said. “I spent three or four hours a day dialing people I didn’t know and asking for money.”
BILL BEARDSLEY, REPUBLICAN
Beardsley, 68, decided to run for governor after serving as president of Husson University in Bangor. He finished fifth and said he enjoyed a relaxing summer, despite knee surgery.
“I’ve read long books after 45 years of working constantly day and night in high-pressure jobs,” he said, noting that he just started Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” which is more than 1,000 pages.
Beardsley, of Ellsworth, has become active in local Republican groups and said he’s a strong supporter of LePage. He said he is getting restless — it’s the start of a new school year without him — but that he’s enjoying time with his children and grandchildren.
He didn’t want to give out too many details, but said he’s working with some independent filmmakers who want to shoot some footage in Maine in October.
“It’s that kind of irresponsible thing I’ve never done before,” he said.
Maine Today Media State House Writer Susan M. Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]