Politics

June 15, 2013

History, geography factors for Michaud in governor's race

Candidates from Maine's rural 2nd District often have had no trouble winning statewide races.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Jan Barrett
click image to enlarge

In this November 2011 file photo, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, surprises Jan Barrett, of Lewiston, Maine, with a copy of the mention of her father, Lt. Thomas Plourde, in the Congressional Record in his office before the ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011. Michaud is inching closer to joining Maine';s gubernatorial race.

Photo by Bill Clark

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In the 1994 Senate race, for instance, Republican U.S. Rep. Olympia Snowe, from the 2nd District, beat Rep. Tom Andrews, despite his popularity in the 1st District.

But Palmer said the dynamics of a race involving Michaud, LePage and Cutler are hard to parse.

"It's going to be a very, very difficult race to predict, certainly this far out," Palmer said. "What you could see is Mike Michaud cutting into Governor LePage's strength in the 2nd District."

LePage's political adviser, Brent Littlefield, offered a glimpse of the Republican's likely strategy against Michaud on Thursday.

"In his three decades as a politician, Michael Michaud has supported tax increases, job killing regulations and helped grow the deficit and debt in Washington to the point where it now reaches nearly 17 trillion dollars," Littlefield said.

Cutler, meanwhile, attacked LePage and the party politics that he said are financed and controlled by special interests.

Recent history shows that candidates who come from the rural 2nd District have no problems winning statewide races.

Five of the last eight governors and six of the last eight senators were from areas that are now part of the 2nd District.

Undoubtedly, that is due in part to geography, because the 2nd District is much larger than the 1st, although federal law requires the districts to have roughly equal populations.

Does the north-south divide still matter in statewide races?

"Perhaps not as much as it used to, but to some degree," Palmer said.

Michaud said Thursday that he has heard from Mainers of all political stripes -- Democrats, Republicans and independents -- from all over the state who are urging him to run.

"A really diverse cross-section of Mainers, so I felt it was time to take the next step to get into more depth about what people want the next governor to do," Michaud said in an interview.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents the 1st District, is vouching for her colleague after opting not to run for governor.

"Mike has served the people of Maine well in Congress and has been a tireless fighter for veterans, working families and small businesses," Pingree said in a prepared statement. "I value his friendship and I know he will continue to serve Maine people well whatever he chooses to do -- either in Congress or Augusta."

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC 

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