Saturday, May 25, 2013
By Kaitlin LaCasse, who is executive director of OneMaine
PORTLAND — Mainers have a long tradition of voting for candidates we think will best serve our community, state and country, regardless of political affiliation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaitlin LaCasse is the executive director of OneMaine.
Maine voted for President Obama in 2008, and we have a Republican governor, two Republican senators and two Democratic members of the U.S. House.
In this year's Senate race, the leading candidate is an independent.
Mainers may lead the nation in political independence, but the rest of the American electorate is catching on fast.
A recently released poll from the political organization No Labels found that 54 percent of voters say they will choose candidates who emphasize problem solving over party affiliation.
According to a No Labels news release, 94 percent of independents identify as problem solving voters, along with 30 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of Republicans.
In Maine, those percentages likely are even higher.
True to our heritage of self-reliance, pragmatism and independence (small "i"), Mainers tend to not give political affiliation much weight when entering the voting booths.
For one reason, we often know the candidates personally.
We're a state of 1.3 million people with a citizen legislature.
If you have ever been to your town or county fair, farmers market or diner, you've probably met someone who has been on the ballot.
Chances are, you're friends, family, neighbors or colleagues with one or two, as well.
Fewer and fewer people are enrolled in political parties or vote in party primaries.
In Maine this year, only 11 percent of registered Democrats and only 13 percent of registered Republicans voted in their party primaries.
Nonetheless, candidate endorsements, funding and other elements of campaign support are still routed primarily through the political parties or special interest organizations to which most voters pay less and less attention.
That's where OneMaine comes in.
OneMaine is a new organization that believes that Maine politics will be more inclusive and more effective when voters support state legislators who are less partisan and who consistently work across party lines to develop solutions that move Maine forward.
And we believe that Maine voters will be more supportive of legislators who are less partisan.
Most Mainers already support those kinds of candidates, just not in an organized way.
OneMaine is trying to change that.
In her Portland Press Herald editorial page piece, "Why I'm leaving the Senate" (March 4), Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe wrote, "Two truths are all too often overshadowed in today's political discourse: Public service is a most honorable pursuit, and so is bipartisanship."
We agree, Sen. Snowe.
Snowe continued with, "for change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building, but also a political reward for following these tenets.
"That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail."
OneMaine is a mechanism for "the people" to do just that – to demonstrate that we support the candidates who are willing and able to work together – regardless of political affiliation – to tackle Maine's largest challenges.
We aren't asking anyone to abandon their principles or party affiliation or to give up their values or point of view.
OneMaine will support candidates of all stripes who are willing to work together to find common ground.
OneMaine has invited all candidates for the Legislature to seek a OneMaine endorsement.
Through an interview process, OneMaine will endorse candidates who are receptive to differences of opinion and are committed to working with other legislators, regardless of political affiliation, and who pledge to work toward the common good by putting the needs of Maine's communities ahead of the partisan objectives of political parties.
We look forward to getting to know the candidates, and endorsing those who are dedicated to working together. Most Mainers already support those kinds of candidates who work across party lines to develop solutions that move Maine forward, just not in an organized way.
OneMaine is trying to change that.