Politics

June 13, 2013

Michaud closer to joining governor race

The congressman takes steps to gauge voter support before deciding whether to take on Gov. LePage and Cutler in 2014.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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In this October 2012 file photo, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, poses for a photo before a "Get Out the Vote" rally for Democratic candidates at the Lewiston Armory. Michaud moved closer Thursday to running for governor of Maine, launching an exploratory committee and a campaign-style website.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's 1st Congressional District, considered running for governor but decided this spring not to enter the race.

Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby College in Waterville who has monitored Maine politics for several decades, said he believes Michaud will run and predicted his entrance will "change the tone of the race."

"It's just step one," Maisel said of the exploratory committee.

While some potential candidates opt not to run after forming a committee, Maisel said, "When it happens, it is for a reason. Something comes up in the interim that causes them to back out."

Mark Brewer, a political scientist at the University of Maine, said he's still not convinced that Michaud will run.

"The pressure on him to do something has been enormous, but forming a committee and holding a press conference to say 'I'm running' are two different things," Brewer said.

Michaud's "trouncing" of Republican Kevin Raye -- the popular former president of the Maine Senate -- in last year's election shows that the 2nd District seat is likely his "as long as he wants it," Brewer said.

Although Michaud is a strong candidate for governor, he said, "that's not his to win."

Even without committing to the race, Michaud wasn't shy about taking a swipe at LePage.

"We need a chief executive willing to work with both sides and work with diverse groups to solve the problems the state is facing today," Michaud said in an interview. "You have to be open-minded."

LePage won in 2010 largely by locking in votes from mainstream Republicans, conservatives and tea party members while Democrats and moderates split between Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell.

The limited polling done so far on Maine's next gubernatorial race shows that LePage could win another close race, against Michaud and Cutler.

In a prompt response to Michaud's announcement, LePage's senior political adviser, Brent Littlefield, said "now is not the time to turn back to the failures of the past" as the governor works to create jobs, repay debts to Maine hospitals and strengthen the economy.

"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 in a prepared statement.

Woods, the only declared Democratic candidate, criticized Michaud's non-committal announcement, saying the last thing Maine needs is more committees.

"I respect Rep. Michaud and his service to Maine," Woods said in a prepared statement. "But he is attempting to keep one foot firmly planted on first base (maintaining his congressional security and seniority) while asking Maine voters to allow him to stretch all the way to second as he 'considers' running for governor. That may serve his political interest, but in my opinion, not Maine's critical need for respectful and effective governance."

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

kmiller@pressherald.com

Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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