January 31, 2013

Letters to the editor: Cutler doesn't deserve 'spoiler' label

With the national election behind us, talk of the next governor's race has begun in earnest, and although potential candidates are in the early stages of building their campaigns, letters are flying regarding the futility of another run by Eliot Cutler.

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People who predict that Eliot Cutler would split the Democratic vote if he runs for governor in 2014 fail to factor in the changes in the political landscape since Cutler’s 2010 Blaine House bid, a reader says.

2010 File Photo/Gregory Rec

Some believe that Cutler will prove to be a spoiler, splitting the Democratic vote and allowing Gov. LePage to cruise to victory again.

This, however, is a different year, and it will be a different election.

The Republican Party has essentially become two parties -- the conservative, traditional, pro-business party, and the tea party, the extremist, uncompromising, ultra-conservative party. Their split, in large part, has contributed to the gridlock in government, and the majority of Republicans seem to be growing weary of their tea party association.

Given the choice between Eliot Cutler and Gov. LePage, I suspect Cutler will draw from the more traditional Republican vote and leave the extremist vote to LePage.

On the Democratic side, if Gov. Baldacci throws his hat back in, he will no doubt be a competitor. However, we've been here before. It will be difficult for Baldacci to convince voters that he has fresh ideas after having served as governor for eight years.

Other prominent Democrats are circling but have not announced yet, so we'll see what they bring to the table.

As a whole, Maine voters continue to exhibit a strong independent streak, where they measure the candidates by their words and actions. It's clear where we've been with both Govs. LePage and Baldacci.

It's time to put party labels aside and listen to the candidates. Hear what their vision is for the state of Maine and look at their experience. Don't ask a candidate to leave the race simply because he's not a Democrat or a Republican. Instead, let's ask our candidates to bring their best. And then decide.

Dennis Welsh

Yarmouth 

In the article describing Eliot Cutler's possibly running for governor ("Cutler may take step toward governor run," Jan. 23), I'd like to address how numbers have been politicized, rather than numbers representing facts.

It is a fact that in 2010, Cutler received more votes than Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell. The phrase "... siphoned votes from Mitchell ..." is an assumption, not a fact, and presumes that an independent is not a legitimate status.

In essence, there seems to be an acceptance in this country that we have a two-party system and anything else is outside the system and not acceptable.

If this were true, we would not allow any voter registration outside these two parties. This simply isn't true anywhere in this country. Most elections even provide a slot for write-in candidates, who typically don't garner enough votes to be considered spoilers.

But looking at the numbers in the three polls that were cited addresses the point that Gov. LePage seems to be at about the same place now as he was in 2010. That's a numerically factual statement.

If Cutler were only 1.8 percentage points behind in the 2010 election, it is a numerical fact that he is not that close in these polls. But Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant's calling him a spoiler is a political labeling that can't be justified by the poll numbers.

The conclusion that should be drawn is that the other candidates in these polls drew votes away from Cutler. Otherwise, he would be closer to LePage -- not necessarily 1.8 points behind, but closer.

So it seems that Cutler's early statement of intention has started a labeling campaign, not subtle at all. Identifying him as a spoiler might be expected as a political statement, but basing this identification on the poll numbers cited reflects a false use of polling numbers.

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