Sunday, May 19, 2013
A former Maine gubernatorial candidate who has been out of the public eye since his defeat in November is poised to join the national debate over the effects that partisan politics can have on government.
Press Herald file
Eliot Cutler and former Florida Gov. Charles Crist, both independents, will co-host a telephone town hall Monday night that has been organized by a new national political movement known as No Labels.
No Labels will contact Maine residents from a telephone list minutes before the town hall begins at 7:15 p.m. The residents will hear a recorded message from Cutler, asking them if they want to participate. Anyone who agrees will have an opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions.
People also can sign up for the town hall by going to Cutler's Facebook page.
Cutler said he agreed to co-host the program because he likes what No Labels is trying to accomplish. Its mission is to end the intense partisanship that it says has kept the nation from solving its problems.
"The town hall is a means to give people a way to participate in the political process," Cutler said in a telephone interview Thursday night. "It's for what I like to call the political homeless, people who are looking for a place where they can congregate and share their ideas."
No Labels, based in Washington, D.C., began its campaign in December, said founder Nancy Jacobson.
"We are not a political party. We're a voice, a third voice, if you will," Jacobson said.
No Labels wants to bring pressure on elected officials by demonstrating that the majority of Americans are fed up with partisan bickering and political incivility, which marred the last session of Congress, Jacobson said.
No Labels believes that "hyper-partisan" politicians use labels to demonize their opponents, enforce orthodoxy within their own ranks and marginalize sensible compromises.
"With all the problems this nation is facing, we can't afford all this political posturing," she said.
About 250 people from 40 states will gather Tuesday in Washington to participate in a No Labels summit. They also can listen in on Monday's telephone town hall, which is expected to attract thousands of participants.
"We want our leaders to put their party labels aside and start to solve some of the nation's problems," Jacobson said. "Our message is, if you don't, then we will punish you" at the polls.
As for Cutler, he said he has no immediate plans to seek political office. The Cape Elizabeth resident has been spending some of his spare time traveling the state on what he described as a "thank you tour," aimed at expressing his gratitude to his supporters.
"That has been fun," said Cutler, who finished a close second to Republican Paul LePage in last year's five-way gubernatorial race.
"I am thinking about the future, but it's not entirely clear what that will be yet. I have the luxury of time to think about it," Cutler said.
He doesn't envision a new political party evolving from No Labels. "I think political parties are becoming increasingly irrelevant," he said. "But I do think the political homeless need a place and a means to congregate, to share their ideas and to have some influence over the political process."
For some Maine residents, that could start Monday night.
People can register to participate in the telephone town hall by going to Cutler's Facebook page -- www.facebook.com/Eliot Cutler and clicking on the No Labels Telephone Town Hall link.
No Labels can be reached directly at (202) 588-1990. To learn more about the organization, go to nolabels.org.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: