Monday, March 10, 2014
Spoiler alert: Former Gov. John Baldacci on Thursday morning continued to stoke speculation that he'll make another run for the Blaine House in 2014 during an interview on WGAN 560. He also, without naming Eliot Cutler, suggested that the presumed independent candidate would be a spoiler if he gets into the race.
Baldacci's comments follow news this week that Cutler is planning to launch his campaign committee, the first step in initiating a campaign and one that allows the Cape Elizabeth resident to begin raising money. That news also coincided with the release of a Public Policy Poll that showed Republican Gov. Paul LePage winning in every scenario in which there were three candidates.
That poll has fueled calls by some Democrats for Cutler to stay out of the race.
"It's a challenging third-person race," Baldacci said Thursday. "If it's a two-way race it's no contest. The only way the current administration stays in place is if there's a divisive three-way race."
He added, "(An independent) is going to end up being a spoiler. Why get into the race?"
"I want to make sure that there's a change in two years and we put an end to this constant negative drumbeat," he said.
Full disclosure: The Maine Ethics Commission will be proposing some changes that will affect election laws.
Director Jonathan Wayne said that the commission plans to submit legislation that will strengthen the disclosure requirements for the primary decision makers for political action committees and campaign committees. The proposal stems from last summer's controversy involving former Republican state Sen. Nichi Farnham of Hermon, who had been accused by the Maine Democratic Party of breaking the law prohibiting candidates from using PAC funds to help their individual campaigns.
Farnham was listed as the primary decision maker on the Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC, which spent heavily on Farnham's race with Democratic Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick. She was exonerated after claiming that she forgot that she was the primary decision maker for the PAC.
Skeptics say that excuse didn't wash, but the Ethics Commission said it was highly unlikely that Farnham knew or initiated some of the ads that ran against Gratwick.
Wayne said that the new disclosure, which will include additional filing requirements and a sworn statement by the decision maker, is designed to remove the possibility that someone could forget, purposely or otherwise, that they're the ones responsible for the PAC or campaign's activities.
Also, on the PAC front, Wayne said the commission will change the reporting period for PACs during the final days before an election. Currently, PACs file reports 11 days prior to Election Day, but don't have to file another report until 42 days after the election. Critics have said that the reporting gap makes it easier for PACs to exceed contribution limits with no penalty until after the election is decided, and that it's less transparent.
Wayne said the commission will propose 24-hour reports during the final days before an election.
Air it out: Former Gov. John Baldacci and former State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin have had no trouble finding forums to express their views over the last few years. It's about to get a bit easier.
WGAN 560 announced Wednesday that Baldacci and Poliquin will soon have regular appearances on the station's "Inside Maine" Saturday program. Baldacci will co-host the program with daily host Ken Altshuler on a monthly basis. Poliquin will also make a monthly appearance.
The new "Inside Maine" will debut Saturday, running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The host schedule can seen at WGAN's website.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.