June 7, 2010

Governor's Race: Independents can vote Tuesday, but they need to know the rules

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA - If you're not enrolled in either party, you can still vote in Tuesday's gubernatorial primary.

Some candidates are working hard to make direct appeals to independents, but it's important to know the facts about the process before you decide.

You can just show up and vote in either primary, but you must enroll in that party first. And, you must stay a member of that party for three months before you can drop your party affiliation, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

And, unenrolled voters who want to weigh in on the bond questions or the tax reform people's veto can vote on just the referendum questions without having to join a party.

As of June 1, independents made up the largest voting bloc among Maine registered voters, with 385,388. Democrats are next with 329,610. Republicans have 270,601 and Green Independents 34,398.

The deadline to switch parties has passed, and some voters took the opportunity to make a change at some point this year.

There are many categories, but four columns stand out:

1,200 people went from unenrolled to Republican.

658 people went from unenrolled to Democratic.

956 people went from Democratic to Republican.

346 people went from Republican to Democratic.

Pick up Wednesday's newspapers to find out what this will mean for the candidates on Tuesday's ballot.

PINGREE BACKS MITCHELL

House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, last week officially announced her support for Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, one of four Democrats running for governor.

Although Pingree, who will take a break from politics after finishing her term as speaker in December, said she will "enthusiastically" support any Democratic nominee, she's banking on Mitchell in the primary.

"Libby's leadership in the Senate is why we passed tax reform," Pingree said. "Libby's leadership in the Senate is why we passed marriage equality. She is ahead of the curve, and tough enough to lead on difficult issues."

MILLS POLL RESULTS

State Sen. Peter Mills, one of seven Republicans running for governor, released a poll he commissioned last week that shows him leading the others in the field.

But most voters -- 24 percent -- still said they were undecided.

Mills' campaign paid the Maine Center for Public Opinion, a new political research and marketing firm based in Portland, to conduct the poll. The center interviewed 915 likely Republican voters. The results have a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

The results: Mills, 22 percent; Les Otten, 17 percent; Steve Abbott, 13.9 percent; Waterville Mayor Paul LePage, 10.7 percent; Bill Beardsley, 5.9 percent; Bruce Poliquin, 4.9 percent; and Matt Jacobson, 1.4 percent.

Earlier in the week, Pan Atlantic SMS Group released an independent poll, with a much smaller sample, that showed 47 percent undecided and Otten in the lead with 17 percent, followed by LePage at 10.3 percent, Mills at 8.4 percent and Abbott at 8.3 percent.

RICHARDSON REMINDER

Technically, five Democrats will be on the ballot, but only four are still in the race.

Democrat John Richardson pulled out in April after the ethics commission found problems with his application for Clean Election funds. But it was too late for the ballots, which had already gone to the printers.

Town and city clerks have been instructed to count votes for Richardson and report them to the state, but he's no longer a candidate, said Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn.

The Democratic candidates are Patrick McGowan, Elizabeth Mitchell, Steven Rowe and Rosa Scarcelli. 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

scover@centralmaine.com

 

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