With the national election behind us, talk of the next governor’s race has begun in earnest, and although potential candidates are in the early stages of building their campaigns, letters are flying regarding the futility of another run by Eliot Cutler.

Some believe that Cutler will prove to be a spoiler, splitting the Democratic vote and allowing Gov. LePage to cruise to victory again.

This, however, is a different year, and it will be a different election.

The Republican Party has essentially become two parties — the conservative, traditional, pro-business party, and the tea party, the extremist, uncompromising, ultra-conservative party. Their split, in large part, has contributed to the gridlock in government, and the majority of Republicans seem to be growing weary of their tea party association.

Given the choice between Eliot Cutler and Gov. LePage, I suspect Cutler will draw from the more traditional Republican vote and leave the extremist vote to LePage.

On the Democratic side, if Gov. Baldacci throws his hat back in, he will no doubt be a competitor. However, we’ve been here before. It will be difficult for Baldacci to convince voters that he has fresh ideas after having served as governor for eight years.

Other prominent Democrats are circling but have not announced yet, so we’ll see what they bring to the table.

As a whole, Maine voters continue to exhibit a strong independent streak, where they measure the candidates by their words and actions. It’s clear where we’ve been with both Govs. LePage and Baldacci.

It’s time to put party labels aside and listen to the candidates. Hear what their vision is for the state of Maine and look at their experience. Don’t ask a candidate to leave the race simply because he’s not a Democrat or a Republican. Instead, let’s ask our candidates to bring their best. And then decide.

Dennis Welsh

Yarmouth 

In the article describing Eliot Cutler’s possibly running for governor (“Cutler may take step toward governor run,” Jan. 23), I’d like to address how numbers have been politicized, rather than numbers representing facts.

It is a fact that in 2010, Cutler received more votes than Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell. The phrase “… siphoned votes from Mitchell …” is an assumption, not a fact, and presumes that an independent is not a legitimate status.

In essence, there seems to be an acceptance in this country that we have a two-party system and anything else is outside the system and not acceptable.

If this were true, we would not allow any voter registration outside these two parties. This simply isn’t true anywhere in this country. Most elections even provide a slot for write-in candidates, who typically don’t garner enough votes to be considered spoilers.

But looking at the numbers in the three polls that were cited addresses the point that Gov. LePage seems to be at about the same place now as he was in 2010. That’s a numerically factual statement.

If Cutler were only 1.8 percentage points behind in the 2010 election, it is a numerical fact that he is not that close in these polls. But Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant’s calling him a spoiler is a political labeling that can’t be justified by the poll numbers.

The conclusion that should be drawn is that the other candidates in these polls drew votes away from Cutler. Otherwise, he would be closer to LePage — not necessarily 1.8 points behind, but closer.

So it seems that Cutler’s early statement of intention has started a labeling campaign, not subtle at all. Identifying him as a spoiler might be expected as a political statement, but basing this identification on the poll numbers cited reflects a false use of polling numbers.

That old statistical saw seems to apply — “Numbers don’t lie, but liars use numbers.”

Mark Schwartz

South Portland 

I read with interest the two letters in the Jan. 26 Press Herald titled “Cutler run will hand LePage second term.”

I, too, have followed with interest the potential for a repeat of the last gubernatorial election. I disagree, however, with the two writers who are asking Cutler not to run and not be the spoiler. Our form of government allows anyone to run for any office they choose.

The flaw is in the system that allows a governor to be elected to office with less than 51 percent of the vote.

My suggestion, which I have heard proposed before, is if in a race where there are more than two candidates and no candidate gets at least 51 percent of the vote, then we have a runoff election between the top two vote getters.

I don’t know the process to initiate such a change or even if there is enough time to make such a change before the next election. However, in my opinion, no one should be able to lead the state of Maine unless they have a clear mandate to do so from the citizens/voters of Maine.

Steven C. Pomelow

Gorham 

Women’s rights struggle overlooked in classrooms 

There is a lot of discussion and debate in our society with an inadequate foundation of knowledge — historical knowledge, in particular.

This month we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and, by extension, the great struggle to fulfill the promise of this country for people of African and Afro-American descent.

But there was and is another great struggle to fulfill the promise of this country, and that struggle is too often given little or no recognition in our schools.

The struggle of American women for full citizenship is too often lost in two or three bits of trivia, rather than a thoughtful examination of its challenges and successes, or its importance for today and tomorrow.

Any school system not using “Not For Ourselves Alone,” the book by Geoffrey C. Ward, movie by Ken Burns, in its high school social studies curriculum is committing a sin of omission. The story presented is that compelling, and that fundamental to the story of America.

Michael Crichton has been quoted as saying, “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”

While that thought might suffice, in a society that makes claims to democracy and values entrepreneurial leadership and creativity it might be even more empowering to say, “If you don’t know history, you are a steering wheel that doesn’t know it is part of a car.”

For both social and economic reasons, we need to expect and respect the grass-roots leadership and the commitment to purpose that “Not For Ourselves Alone” depicts.

John Henderson

Auburn