September 18, 2010

From the awws of defeat

Primary losers emerge disappointed but determined from failed gubernatorial bids.

By Susan M. Cover
State House Bureau

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.

Primary candidate signs
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Remember when? Various gubernatorial campaign signs are seen on a corner in Portland on Monday, June 7, the day before Mainers voted for their party candidates in the primary election. Nine candidates saw their bids for the Blaine House end the next night.

2010 Associated Press file

Steve Rowe
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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Rowe hugs his wife, Amanda, after conceding to Libby Mitchell at his primary election night party on June 8 in South Portland. Rowe is now practicing law with Verrill Dana in Portland.

2010 AP file

Additional Photos Below

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 of Portland, a Democrat who finished third in her party primary, recently relaunched her campaign website -- -- 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."


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.


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.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott is now the interim athletic director at the University of Maine, a job he expects will last through June.

Courtesy University of Maine

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Bruce Poliquin, former Republican candidate for governor, speaks for Paul LePage at a Scarborough Kiwanis Club meeting Friday. Poliquin is working full time for LePage.

Jill Brady/Staff Photographer


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