Politics

September 25, 2013

Eliot Cutler announces gubernatorial run

The independent who came within 2 percentage points of winning the Blaine House in 2010 says: 'This time we will.'

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 2)

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With wife Melanie Cutler behind him, Eliot Cutler announces his independent candidacy for Maine governor at a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 24., 2013 at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Read Eliot Cutler's gubernatorial announcement speech

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, said there are a couple of ways to read Cutler's undecided numbers. On one hand, he said, it's possible that the public doesn't have a strong view of him, even though some voters broke his way in the 2010 election. 

"Maybe those people didn’t have a fully formed opinion of Eliot Cutler," Brewer said. "All they knew was that Libby Mitchell was sinking like a stone and they didn’t want Paul LePage." 

So far, the prevailing narrative from Democrats is that Cutler is a spoiler. In May, Peter Shumlin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said a vote for Cutler is a vote for LePage. 

But Cutler, in an interview with the National Journal, said it was wrong to presume that all of his supporters were Democrats. 

"There's a real possibility, if not a likelihood, that during the course of this campaign many people who voted for LePage – independents, Republicans – in 2010 and who are to one degree or another dissatisfied with his performance in office are going to come to the opinion that either he shouldn't or can't win reelection," Cutler told the National Journal. 

Ted O’Meara, Cutler’s campaign manager, said Tuesday that the Republican movement to his candidate was an emerging storyline of the campaign. 

Republicans, meanwhile, are attempting to portray Cutler as a Democrat cloaked as an independent, saying there's little difference between he and Michaud. Brent Littlefield, in a statement issued Tuesday, used the word "liberal" five times in a response to Cutler's campaign kickoff. 

"Liberal Eliot Cutler’s announcement, his book, and his campaign offer the same glossed-over liberal ideas that failed Maine for decades," Littlefield said. "Smooth talking won’t make his liberal ideas of increasing welfare spending work any better than they have worked for Michaud when he helped run state government or Baldacci when he held the Governorship.

Cutler, responding to the statement, blasted back. 

“They call a person who disagrees with them a ‘liberal’ and every program ‘welfare’,” said Cutler, deploying air quotes. “You know it’s like crying wolf. I think Maine people have had enough with that.”

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler

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