Sunday, December 8, 2013
A governor elected by less than a majority of voters may not have what we like to call a "mandate," but a plurality victory need not be an impediment to effective governing.
Past plurality governors of Maine understood that they needed to be responsive to all the people of the state -- those who voted for them and those who didn't.
That didn't mean they couldn't pursue their political and governmental agendas, or try to keep promises they made in their campaigns. It simply meant they occasionally had to modify their larger ambitions and compromise when consensus was elusive.
The current governor seems reluctant to embrace that concept. Paul LePage, elected with 38 percent of the vote in a razor-thin victory over Eliot Cutler in a five-candidate race, has so far conducted himself as if he thinks he won in a landslide.
He steps on toes, insults opponents, impanels secret discussion groups and brashly pursues policy initiatives that, in some cases, are very likely opposed by a majority of Mainers.
It could be arrogance. It could be inexperience. As mayor of Waterville before becoming governor, he had more or less free rein -- and public approval -- to impose his will on the city.
Not so as governor. He needs to lead the entire state, not just the minority of voters who elected him.
We know that a plurality governor can govern successfully. We hope that LePage can learn how to do it.