Independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler moved closer to his imminent campaign kickoff Wednesday, releasing a 104-page book that retools some of his policy ideas from his 2010 bid.
The book, which is self-published and doubles as a policy document, also takes sharp aim at the two major political parties, blaming both for partisan standoffs at the expense of Maine’s economic prosperity.
“Maine needs a plan,” Cutler said in a news statement. “For the 10 years from 2003 through today — first under a Democratic governor and then his Republican successor — our policies and priorities have been driven by partisan ideology and political slogans. The result has been a Lost Decade, with almost no job and income gains and a stagnant economy that lags behind other New England states and the rest of the country.”
The book comes after Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud launched his campaign for governor in August. Republican Gov. Paul LePage is expected to kick off his campaign this fall, as is Cutler.
Cutler’s book spends some time reflecting on his 2010 loss to LePage, who edged out the Cape Elizabeth resident in a five-way race. Cutler has remained close to the political scene ever since and his second bid for the Blaine House was expected.
In his book, “A State of Opportunity,” which can be downloaded at Cutler’s website, Cutler advocates an array of reforms similar to those he supported in his 2010 bid.
For education, that includes extending the school year; emphasizing teacher and school accountability; and making changes to the funding mechanism for public education. He also proposes ways to reduce college tuition costs.
Cutler calls for changes in the state’s budget process, which he says is driven by politics rather than financial and staffing decisions in state government.
Cutler also promotes changes in the state’s election system, an issue he has touted since LePage beat him by less than 2 percentage points in 2010. After the election, Cutler said the state’s early-voting system likely contributed to his defeat, because Mainers who voted early for Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell didn’t have the opportunity to change their minds when polls showed her slipping to a distant third in the race.
Cutler’s economic vision is marked by calls to change the state’s “regressive” tax system.
Cutler also took a few veiled shots at his opponents in his written statement.
“I believe in treating voters like adults,” Cutler said. “We can’t afford for this election to be little more than a choice between wrongheaded policies and embarrassing outbursts on the one hand and timeworn slogans and platitudes on the other.”
Brent Littlefield, LePage’s political adviser, labeled Cutler’s solutions as liberal, including the independent’s support for expanding Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
“Under Gov. Paul LePage the unemployment rate has dropped significantly and more than 10,000 Maine people have now found jobs,” Littlefield said in a statement.
Maine’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in July, according to the Maine Department of Labor. It was 8 percent in January 2011 when LePage took office.
Michaud’s campaign has claimed that Maine is one of three states that has lost jobs between 2012 and 2013, a claim that stems from a Pew Stateline graphic released in June. The Pew graphic used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that Maine was one of three states to lose jobs between April 2012 and April 2013. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has since revised its numbers, showing that Maine added 200 jobs over the same period.
Sandy Johnson, the executive editor at Pew’s Stateline, acknowledged in an email that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has adjusted its data, showing a slight job increase, not a job a loss.
Lizzy Reinholt, Michaud’s communications director, said in a statement that the six-term congressman wasn’t running against Cutler or LePage, “he is running for the people of Maine.”
Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:
This story was revised at 10:03 a.m., Sept. 19. 2013, to reflect updated employment data.
This story was revised at 3:17 p.m., Sept. 19, 2013, to explain the numbers cited by Michaud’s campaign.