May 26, 2010

Profile: Cutler combines deep experience with 'keen strategic mind’

He learned public policy under Ed Muskie, fiscal restraint in the Carter administration and the law at Georgetown University.

By Matt Wickenheiser
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Independent Eliot Cutler talks recently at Arabica Coffee on Free Street in Portland with customers Hannah Payeur of South Portland, left, and Cassandra Grantham of Portland.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Related headlines

July 29, 1946
FAMILY: Wife, Dr. Melanie Stewart Cutler; three grown children
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree, Harvard College; law degree, Georgetown University
PUBLIC OFFICE EXPERIENCE: Legislative assistant to Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie; special assistant and counsel to the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution; Senate Committee on Public Works; associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget for Natural Resources, Energy and Science; principal White House official for energy policy; senior leadership roles in five presidential campaigns

This is the 12th
and last in a series profiling candidates for governor. Independent Eliot Cutler will chat with readers live at noon today

See our special section on the governor's race at:


“China is going to be the biggest market in the world during our lifetime. It ought to be one of the biggest markets for Maine products – seafood, agriculture, pulp and paper,” Cutler said. “Not to understand China the way I do, in my view, would be a shortcoming. I think I can do more for the state of Maine by virtue of what I know about the rest of the world.”

Cutler was involved in some business ventures over the years, as well. One was Thornburg Mortgage, where Cutler was a member of the board of directors. The firm, started by Cutler’s friend Garrett Thornburg, was an originator of super-prime high-end jumbo mortgages. These were the opposite of sub-prime loans; they were made to borrowers with exceptional credit.

The firm would originate mortgages, package them and sell securities based on them, then borrow money against the securities to make further loans, Cutler said.

But the model failed when the credit markets seized up, and when new accounting rules were put into place. The firm went bankrupt.

There was some alleged malfeasance, said Cutler, when former executives were accused of attempting to start a new business while under bankruptcy protection. Cutler and the other independent directors fired them, sued them and ultimately all resigned when an independent trustee took over, he said.

If he were governor, Cutler believes he could work with the Legislature, even though he’d be an independent dealing with Republicans and Democrats. Although he was a Democrat for much of his life, he registered as a Republican in 2006 to support Peter Mills (who is again running on the GOP ticket).

Cutler said he decided to run as an independent because he felt the Democratic Party has become too “self-absorbed.”

Staff Writer Matt Wickenheiser can be contacted at 791-6316 or at

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)